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USA - Michigan International Trade in Legal Services

United States of America - Michigan International Trade in Legal Services

HOME COUNTRY LICENSING QUESTIONS

Is there legislation governing the legal sector

Act 236 of 1961 - REVISED JUDICATURE ACT OF 1961 (600.101 - 600.9948)

Under what title do lawyers practise?

Attorney at law

How does an individual lawyer obtain a "licence" to practise law? How often must this be renewed?

An individual must have a bachelor’s degree and a JD, satisfy character and fitness to practice requirements, and have passed the bar exam.

Does this entitle the holder to practise throughout the country? If the law license only permits one to practice on a sub-national level, please explain the jurisdictional limits

This only automatically entitles the holder to practise in Michigan. The right to practise on a temporary basis in another state or to appear pro hac vice in another state depends on the explicit permission of that state.

Are there certain activities that are "reserved" to those who are licensed to practise law in the jurisdiction?

 

 

 

 

 

600.916 Unauthorized practice of law.
Sec. 916.
The State Judicature Act defines the unauthorized practice of law as ""(1) A person shall not practice law or engage in the law business, shall not in any manner whatsoever lead others to believe that he or she is authorized to practice law or to engage in the law business, and shall not in any manner whatsoever represent or designate himself or herself as an attorney and counsellor, attorney at law, or lawyer, unless the person is regularly licensed and authorized to practice law in this state. A person who violates this section is guilty of contempt of the supreme court and of the circuit court of the county in which the violation occurred, and upon conviction is punishable as provided by law. This section does not apply to a person who is duly licensed and authorized to practice law in another state while temporarily in this state and engaged in a particular matter"".  The State Bar of Michigan defines the unauthorized practice of law as ""When a person or company says or does something on behalf of another person that involves legal discretion or making a decision about legal matters, that is the practice of law. It is the unauthorized practice of law for a person to exercise legal discretion on behalf of another person, or practice law for another person, when they are not legally authorized to do so"". The State Bar has asked the State Supreme Court to codify Michigan's case law on this subject Dressel v. Ameribank, 635 N.W.2d 328 (Mich.App. 2001)
Michigan law prohibits the unauthorized practice of law by individuals. MCL 600.916. Moreover, M.C.L. § 450.681 specifically enjoins corporations from practicing law without a license. . . . However, these statutes fail to define precisely what constitutes the ""practice of law."" Rather, such determinations have been left to the discretion of the courts.
This Court agrees with the majority opinion of the states that charging a fee can take an otherwise incidental act into the realm of the unauthorized practice of law.
 

Do you need to hold local nationality to be eligible to practise law?

No

What legal forms can lawyers work in? (e.g. self employment, partnership, limited liability partnership, multi-disciplinary partnership, incorporation)

A lawyer may practise as a sole practitioner, in a general or limited liability partnership. Fee sharing with non-lawyers is prohibited.

What other ethical or regulatory requirements must a licensed lawyer comply with? 

The Michigan code of professional conduct which is modelled on the ABA model code (see:http://www.michbar.org/professional/)

Do law firms need to receive a "license" (or permission/approval) to practice law?

Not from the Court but may be subject to other notification requirements depending on the form taken (e.g. limited liability company) and the local State code.

Which authority issues licences? Are there different authorities for individuals and firms? 

Licences are issued by the Michigan Supreme Court

   

INDIVIDUAL FOREIGN LAWYERS

Are there any explicit rules or restrictions other than visas on fly in fly out practice of law? Ie. Do you need to obtain a licence for temporary practice?

Foreign lawyers are not permitted to provide fly-in fly-out services, this is only permitted to lawyers from other US states (see Professional Conduct rule 5.5 on Unauthorized Practice of Law)

Can a foreign lawyer obtain a visa to visit clients or to market but not to practice?

 

 

 

Under the WTO commitments of the USA, an individual wishing to practise law on a fly in fly out basis in Michigan would need to be fully admitted to the Michigan Bar or to the Bar of another US State. “Service salespersons” are permitted to enter the USA for periods of up to 90 days. "Service salespersons" are "persons not based in the territory of the United States and receiving no remuneration from a source located within the United States, who are engaged in activities related to representing a services supplier for the purpose of negotiating for the sale of the services of that supplier where: a) such sales are not directly made to the general public and b) the salesperson is not engaged in supplying the service" Entry for persons named in this section is limited to a ninety-day period.

Can a foreign lawyer obtain a licence to establish and practise as a foreign legal consultant and what is the scope of this limited licence?

Yes - a foreign lawyer may become licensed as a foreign legal consultant (see Michigan Board of Bar Examiners, Rule 5E MI R BD LAW EXAM Rule 5(E) (Effective 1986)).  The scope of an FLC licence is limited to home country law and international law to the extent it is incorporated in home-country law. The practice of 3rd-country and Michigan law is not permitted.

Are there any conditions that must be fulfilled once a foreign lawyer has been granted a limited licence (e.g. residency requirement)

In-state residency is required.

Are there any conditions that must be fulfilled for a foreign lawyer to qualify for a limited licence? (e.g. prior practice)

Licensure is subject to meeting requirements of registration, a minimum age of 18 years, an experience requirement (3 of the 5 years preceding registration must have been spent practising law), and providing certification of registration and good standing with home-country bar.

Are foreign lawyers permitted to undertake arbitration and mediation?

 

Are foreign lawyers allowed to appear in court under any circumstances?

 Michigan Supreme Court Rules Concerning the State Bar of Michigan, Rule 15,
Section 2. Foreign Attorneys, Temporary Permission.http://courtofappeals.mijud.net/rules/public/default.asp

Can foreign lawyers requalify as local lawyers?

 

Michigan Compiled Law §600.946

FOREIGN LAW FIRMS

Can a foreign law firm obtain a licence to open an office?

There are no separate requirements on law firms. An FLC is permitted to open an office.

Even if a foreign law firm does not require a legal licence must they register in some form in order to set up an office? (e.g. with a ministry of company affairs etc)

Not applicable

Are there different types of foreign law firm 'licence'  (e.g. Joint Law Venture, stand alone foreign licence etc)

Not applicable

Is there a quota on the number of licences available?

Not applicable

Are there geographical restrictions on foreign firm licences or on the number of branches a foreign firm can have?

No

Are there "scope of practice" rules that apply directly to foreign law firms (as opposed to lawyers themselves)? (e.g. home, host, international law), if so, what are they? No
Are there restrictions on the corporate form a foreign law firm can take? Not applicable
Are there rules about the name a foreign law firm can take? Foreign name is permitted
What entity grants a 'license' to a foreign law firm? If that entity is on the Internet, please provide the URL Not applicable

EMPLOYMENT AND PARTNERSHIP

Are there restrictions on the ownership share of foreign lawyers in a law firm?

Not applicable

May a domestic lawyer be employed by a foreign lawyer or law firm?

Yes - this is explicitly mentioned in the USA's schedule of specific commitments on legal services

Can a domestic lawyer enter into partnership with a foreign lawyer?

Yes - this is explicitly mentioned in the USA's schedule of specific commitments on legal services

Can a domestic lawyer or domestic law firm employ a foreign lawyer?

Not applicable

   

OTHER USEFUL LINKS/SOURCES

Other useful sources or comments or links

 

Verified by

Michigan Board of Bar Examiners (December 2013)