Professional Ethics Programs

Professional ethics programs advance our bar association's founding purposes "to cooperate with the State Bar of Michigan in promoting the ethical practice of law in accordance with the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct" and "to honor the dignity of the legal profession and judicial system."

For the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct, click here.


Ethics Helpline—(877) 558-4760

The SBM Ethics Helpline is reserved for attorneys, judges, and law students to discuss ethics issues. Members may contact the SBM Ethics Helpline at (877) 558-4760 to receive a confidential, informal advisory opinion from a staff attorney regarding an ethics issue pertaining to the inquirer's prospective conduct. The opinions of staff counsel are non-binding and advisory only.

Ethics Opinions By Topic:

Topics include:

Abuse of Judicial Office

Administration of Justice, Conduct Prejudicial to

Administrative Agency Practice

Administrative Duties of Judicial Officers

Administrative Hearing Officer

Admission to the Bar

Advancing Funds to Client

Adverse Parties


Advice to Client

Advice to Third Person

Alcohol Abuse

Alternate Dispute Resolution

Ancillary Services


Appearance of Impropriety



Association With Nonlawyer

Attorney-Client Privilege

Attorney-Client Relationship

Recent Ethics Opinion(s)

JI-151. A full-time staff attorney or law clerk may not simultaneously serve as a part-time magistrate or referee, even in a different jurisdiction, when both roles may require performance during regular business hours.  References: MCJC 1; MCJC 2(A); JI-29; JI-42; JI-77; RI-1; MCR 6.003(4); MCR 9.201(B)(2).  Click here for more info:

Madeleine Thomas Award

Madeleine Thomas died tragically in a rafting accident on a family trip.  She was a passionate advocate and provided many charitable organizations with legal services. Her greatest work centered on domestic violence.  

Because of Madeleine, the Woman’s Resource Center has become the multifaceted service and education organization it is today.  After Madeleine’s passing, several attorneys discussed the positive effects of recognition.  While understanding that each one of us willingly gives personally of their time, expertise, and financial support, it is also usually work that goes unnoticed by the general public.  

The Bar Association  recognizes one attorney for the Madeleine Thomas Award each year.  The criteria for the award include service to the community, non-profit work, and, actions and personal contributions that make our community better.

This award to reinforces the positive work by our membership that would otherwise go unnoticed by our membership and the general public.

Past Winners



Brenda Quick (Law Professor)


Joseph C. Fisher (Alward, Fisher, Rice, Rowe, & Graf)


Marian Kromkowski (Kromkowski & Posner, P.C.)


Maura Brennan (Indian Legal Services) and Dan O'Neil (Thompson O'Neil Law Firm)


George R. Thompson (Thompson O'Neil Law Firm)


Charlie Koop (Antrim County Prosecutor)




Chuck Judson (Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge)


Thomas Phillips (Walton, Smith, Phillips & Dixon)


Pat Wilson  (Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge)


Stephen Chambers (Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge)


Ronald Sondee (Sondee, Racine & Doren)


Jo Bullis (WRC)


Patrick Heintz (Bishop & Heintz)


Jerome Colligan (Bishop & Heintz)