Member Services Orientation Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What do I do after being sworn in?
A. After being sworn in, you must join the State Bar of Michigan by submitting a membership application, your original order of admission, and the current year’s license fee.
Q. What are the possible membership statuses?
A. Active: Active attorneys are authorized to practice law in Michigan and have the option to receive a Bar Card, which facilitates access to Michigan courts and jails. In addition, they receive access to full SBM benefits including section membership, publications, and services.
Inactive: Inactive attorneys are considered members in good standing but are not authorized to practice law in Michigan effective October 1 of the license year. They do not have the option to receive a Bar Card, but they do have access to all other State Bar of Michigan benefits, including section membership. To qualify for inactive status, attorneys must not have practiced law in Michigan since September 30 of the previous fiscal year. Attorneys who choose inactive status for three or more years must be recertified by the Board of Law Examiners before returning to active status and may be required to retake the Michigan bar exam and undergo the character and fitness process.
Emeritus: Emeritus attorneys are no longer authorized to practice law or receive referral fees in Michigan. They do not have the option to receive a Bar Card, but they do have access to all other State Bar of Michigan benefits, including section membership. Emeritus attorneys do not pay license fees and are not required to renew their status. To qualify for emeritus status, attorneys must have been a member of the State Bar of Michigan for at least 30 years or be at least 70 years old. They must also not be subject to pending disciplinary action in any jurisdiction. Qualified attorneys who choose emeritus status must retake the Michigan bar exam to return to active status unless they are eligible for admission under Board of Law Examiners Rules 5(A) or 8.
Resigned: Resigned attorneys are no longer authorized to practice law or receive referral fees in Michigan. They do not have the option to receive a Bar Card, nor do they have access to any other State Bar of Michigan benefits. Resigned attorneys do not pay license fees and are not required to renew their status. Attorneys who are not subject to pending disciplinary action in any jurisdiction may resign from membership. To be readmitted as an active member, an attorney who has resigned must retake the Michigan bar exam to return to active status unless they are eligible for admission under Board of Law Examiners Rules 5(A) or 8.
Suspended or Revoked: Attorneys may have their license suspended or revoked for reasons including non-completion of license renewal, non-payment of fees, or disciplinary action. These are a non-voluntary status. Members with suspended or revoked licenses are no longer authorized to practice law or receive referral fees in Michigan.
Q. When will I be billed for licensing fees after the first year?
A. The fiscal year for the State Bar of Michigan is October 1 through September 30. Every State Bar member's licensing fee notice is sent before September 20, to your email address of record, for the next Bar year beginning October 1.
Q. What if I don't pay my fee?
A. Members who do not pay their licensing fee will be suspended for non-payment and will be ineligible to practice law in Michigan. A certified letter of delinquency is mailed each year to members who fail to pay their fees by November 30. The member’s name is included on a list of attorneys suspended for non-payment of licensing fees that is disseminated to the courts of Michigan, Attorney Grievance Commission, Attorney Discipline Board, clerk of the Supreme Court, and published in the Michigan Bar Journal and on the Bar's website. If the member is not subject to a disciplinary order and the suspension is for less than three years, the member is automatically reinstated upon the payment of licensing fees and late charges owing from the date of suspension to the date of reinstatement plus a reinstatement fee.
Q. How long can I remain on inactive status or suspended?
A. A member who is suspended or remains on inactive status for three years or more, must apply for recertification with the Board of Law Examiners. More detailed information can be found in Supreme Court Rules Concerning the State Bar of Michigan.
Q. What is the Client Protection Fund?
A. The State Bar of Michigan's Client Protection Fund was established in 1966 for the purpose of reimbursing clients who have been victimized by the few attorneys who misappropriate funds entrusted to them. The goal of the fund is to promote public confidence in the administration of justice and the integrity of the legal profession by compensating those who have been victimized by dishonest lawyers. The Client Protection Fund is not a substitute for malpractice insurance; it only reimburses the willful taking of a client's money or property with an intent to defraud within the scope of an attorney-client relationship.
Q. Why does Michigan have an assessment for the Client Protection Fund?
A. The 1999 Conference of Chief Justices National Action Plan on Lawyer Conduct and Professionalism recommended that all client protection funds create a structure to ensure a stable source of funds and to make full reimbursement of client claims the goal of each state's fund. To that end, in 2003 the funding for the State Bar of Michigan Client Protection Fund changed to an assessment-based program bringing it in line with the majority of other states fulfilling the recommendation of the conference. Prior to this change, Michigan was one of only fifteen states that financed the Client Protection Fund through a line item budget appropriation from the Bar's general budget with the last appropriation in 1998.
Q. How can I access the Client Protection Fund rules?
A. The rules are available on the Client Protection Fund web page.
Q. How can I get an application for the Client Protection Fund?
A. View the Claim Application online or call the Client Protection Fund administrator at (517) 346-6379 to request an application.
Q. What is an address of record?
A. It is the address that you provide to us where you can be reached. Per MSC Rule 2 you must submit a physical address (not a P.O. Box) and this address is published online in the SBM attorney directory. You can also provide a secondary address to receive mail and other correspondence from the SBM.
Q. What happens if I move out of state or no longer wish to practice law in Michigan?
A. You can request, in writing, to go on inactive status as long as you are not subject to any disciplinary action in any jurisdiction.
Q. How do I change my name?
A. The request must be in writing along with a copy of the marriage license, divorce decree, social security card, or driver's license. Please include the exact way you would like your name to read.
Q. How do I change my address?
A. Members can update their address in the online Member Area at any time or by sending an Address Change Form. All changes to member records must be initiated by the member in writing.
Q. How can I get a Certificate of Good Standing?
A. All members looking for a certificate of good standing from the State Bar of Michigan must submit their order online to pay by credit/debit card or by paper form for checks. The cost is $15 per certificate. Other options may have additional charges and will be noted. More Information
Q. How do I request a certified copy of my bar application?
A. The fee for this service is $25. Use this form or call (888) SBM-For-U (888-726-3678) for information about obtaining a copy of your Affidavit of Personal History.
Q. How do I remove my name from promotional mailings?
A. You can update your preferences in the Contact Information & Preferences Form
Q. How can I get a replacement Bar card?
A. Call (888) SBM-For-U (888-726-3678) for more information about replacing your bar card.
For additional information, please call a Member Services representative at (888) SBM-For-U (888-726-3678).