Consumer Tips & Alerts
Don’t Risk your Legal Rights During the Coronavirus
Things are difficult in the world right now. But if you have legal questions or concerns during this time, there are lawyers available to help you. Many lawyers are still available to help clients in need, even if they are not able to come into the office. Lawyers may be scheduling meetings by phone or video conference, or using email to stay in touch with clients and respond to questions.
You should be cautious about people who are not licensed to practice law who say that they can provide legal services during this time. Unlicensed individuals who provide legal advice may be engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. Also, unlicensed individuals may not provide correct legal information and could actually cause harm to your legal rights. Sometimes, the harm caused cannot be undone, even if you hire a lawyer later.
You can find out if a person is licensed to provide legal services by checking the State Bar of Michigan online directory (the directory lists all persons licensed to practice law in Michigan. If a person is not in the directory, that person is not licensed to practice in Michigan at this time.) You can also call the State Bar of Michigan at (517) 346-6300. Advice about finding the right lawyer for you is available through the Lawyer Referral Service. You can find more information about the unauthorized practice of law by visiting the Unauthorized Practice of Law home page.
Lawyers are here to help you, always.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Do I need a lawyer or can I do it myself?
A. Under the law, a person is always entitled to represent himself. It is often difficult to represent yourself in all but the most simple of cases. You may also jeopardize important legal rights if not properly advised by an attorney. In family law cases, the local Friend of the Court and/or the Circuit Court Clerk's Offices will have pre-printed, standardized forms that can be purchased for a reasonable fee for people interested in representing themselves. In addition, State Court Administrative Office-approved forms are available online. Beware of non-lawyers who offer assistance in drafting legal documents for a fee. (See below)
Q. Can a person who is not a lawyer draft documents or help me with my case?
A. In Michigan, the only individuals who can draft legal documents for other people or give legal advice are lawyers licensed to practice law in Michigan. Beware of non-lawyer individuals or companies that draft legal documents for a fee, including divorce, bankruptcy, and estate planning documents such as wills and trusts. Any non-lawyer who drafts legal documents, gives legal advice, or gives the impression that they are an attorney when they are not may be guilty of the unauthorized practice of law. View a list of individuals and companies that have been found to have engaged in the unauthorized practice of law as well as more information about how to avoid being victimized by these companies and individuals.
Q. How can I get an unauthorized practice of law complaint form?
A. Click here to obtain a form to document your complaint. You will be asked to provide dates, specific facts regarding what happened, and all documents, including cancelled checks.
Q. How can I get an unauthorized practice of law Friend of the Court complaint form?
A. Click here to obtain a form to document your complaint. You will be asked to briefly describe how your office became aware that a non-lawyer drafted legal documents and/or gave legal advice, and attach copies of the documents in question.
Q. How do I find a lawyer?
A. The State Bar of Michigan Lawyer Referral Service is designed to assist members of the public who want to hire an attorney and can afford to pay for legal services. You may dial (800) 968-0738 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, to speak with a lawyer referral representative or submit an online referral request. Visit the LRS web page for further details.
Q. What if my attorney took my money but didn't perform any services?
A. The Client Protection Fund of the State Bar of Michigan may reimburse, up to a certain limit, individuals who have been victimized by the intentional wrongful conduct of a licensed Michigan attorney, with whom they had an attorney client relationship.
Q. I want to file a complaint against an attorney, where do I start?
A. The Attorney Grievance Commission processes complaints regarding Michigan Lawyers. Attorney Grievance Commission, PNC Center, 755 W. Big Beaver Rd., Ste. 2100, Troy, MI 48084; phone (313) 961-6585.
Q. I want to file a complaint against a judge, where do I start?
A. The Judicial Tenure Commission processes complaints against Michigan Judges. Judicial Tenure Commission, 3034 W Grand Blvd, Ste 8-450, Detroit, MI 48202; phone (313) 875-5110.