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Opinions Concerning Unauthorized Practice of Law

Ethics opinions from the State Bar of Michigan Standing Committees on Professional and Judicial Ethics concerning a lawyer's duty to prevent and report unauthorized practice of law.

State Bar Ethics Opinions

    The State Bar Committees on Professional and Judicial Ethics are authorized to provide written opinions on response to a request from a member of the State Bar concerning the member's own prospective conduct, or in response to a judicial officer concerning an ethics question arising in a proceeding pending before the judicial officer. The Committee is not authorized to provide opinions on past conduct or on questions of law.

    Informal opinions are drafted by individual committee members and are circulated to the committee for comment before release to the inquirer; the opinions are denoted "RI" to indicate informal opinions interpreting the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct, and "CI" to indicate informal opinions interpreting the former Michigan Code of Professional Responsibility. Formal opinions have interest or wide reaching implications for the entire bar, and are approved by the State Bar Board of Commissioners prior to release; the opinions are denoted "R" to indicate formal opinions interpreting the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct, and "C" to indicate opinions interpreting the former Michigan Code of Professional Responsibility.

    State Bar Ethics Opinions have no force and effect of law and may not be relied upon as an absolute defense to a charge of ethical misconduct.

Updated through August, 1997


    JI-26 Judicial Duties to Prevent Unauthorized Practice of Law
    RI-55 Lawyer Appearing in Non-lawyer Capacity
    RI-101 Duty to Report Participation in Deposition
    RI-103 Employee Performing in Administrative Agency Representation
    RI-128 Using Non-lawyer as Intermediary
    RI-144 Firm Name Including Foreign-Licensed Lawyer
    RI-191 Trust Services by Non-lawyers
    RI-298 Title Office/UPL
    C-211 Law Firm Hiring Disciplined Lawyer in Non-law Capacity
    C-239 Duty to Report Appearance in Proceeding
    CI-456 Inside Counsel Performing Services for Corporate Customers
    CI-551 Judicial Duty to Deny Appearance
    CI-602 Employment of Disciplined Lawyer
    CI-683 Lay Intermediary
    CI-689 Appearance by Non-lawyer Corporate Officer
    CI-740 Inside Lawyer Performing Services for Customers
    CI-807 Inside Lawyer Drafting Trusts

Additional References:

  • Article, Disciplined Lawyers and the Unauthorized Practice of Law, Vol 68 No 11 MBJ 1108 (1989).
  • Ethics Spotlight, Ethics and Legal Assistants, Vol 71 No 8 MBJ 826 (1992).
  • Article, What is the Unauthorized Practice of Law and How is it Regulated?, Vol 76 No 6 MBJ 580 (997).

Notice to Lawyers:
State Bar of Michigan ethics opinions are advisory and non-binding in nature. This index is a complete historical catalog. Some of the listed ethics opinions, though not expressly superseded in subsequent ethics opinions, may be nonetheless outmoded or no longer sound due to subsequent changes in case law, statutes, or court rules. Practitioners are urged to thoroughly research all sources to determine the current validity of any given ethics opinion.



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