Relevant Statutes & Case Law


  • MCL 600.916—Unauthorized practice of law

  • MCL 450.681—Practice of law by corporations and voluntary associations prohibited; exceptions; penalty

Case Law

The following are some of the significant cases regarding the unauthorized practice of law; all are in format:

  • Bay County Bar Association v. Finance System, Inc.—Where a corporation and an individual, who was not licensed as an attorney, in operating collection agencies, took assignments of claims from their customers and brought suits on the assigned claims, in which the customers retained an interest, the corporation and individual were engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.

  • Detroit Bar Association v. Union Guardian Trust Co.—The statute authorizing trust companies to act as agents or attorneys in management of estates and serve as trustees, empowers them to perform ordinary and incidental services relative to trusts assumed by them for statutory fees only, without violating the UPL statute.

  • Dressel v. Ameribank—Preparing the legal documents for a banking or mortgage transaction the lender is involved in and charging the customer a fee for the documents does not constitute the unauthorized practice of law.

  • Dubuc v. Michigan Board of Law Examiners (Cite 342 F.3d 610)—Michigan Bar as a state agency is entitled to immunity under the 11th Amendment. Executive Director of the SBM is not entitled to 11th Amendment immunity. Absolute immunity provisions of the Michigan Supreme Court Rules Concerning the State Bar of Michigan do not immunize Executive Director of the SBM from suit in federal court alleging federal constitutional violations.

  • Ginger v. Cohn (Cite 426 F.2d 1385)—After disbarment attorney had no standing to continue to represent bankrupt corporation.

  • In re Ernest J. Desilets (Cite 291 F.3d 925)—A lawyer not licensed to practice in Michigan may practice bankruptcy law generally in Michigan if properly admitted to practice before the federal court of the state.

  • In the Matter of Bright (171 B.R. 799)—U.S. District court case regarding UPL and non-lawyer bankruptcy petition preparer.

  • Ingham County Bar Association v. Walter Neller Company—Title insurance companies have no authority to engage in activities "incidental" to their business, whether or not they charge for the service.

  • Office of Disciplinary Counsel v. Frank J. Marcone (please refer to LexisNexis)—Federal practice—lawyer not admitted to state in which court sits.

  • Peters Production, Inc. v. Desnick Broadcasting Company—Recognizing that a corporation is a legal entity separate from its officers, shareholders, or other constituents, Michigan law does not allow a non-lawyer officer or shareholder of a corporation to appear in court proceedings on behalf of the corporation.

  • Shenkman v. Bragman—The filing of a wrongful death action by a Personal Representative of a deceased estate in pro per (without an attorney) constitutes the unauthorized practice of law.

  • State Bar of Michigan v. Cramer—Not only court appearances, but also out-of-court conduct may be prohibited pursuant to unauthorized practice of laws and rules.