Michigan Bar Reciprocity

Rule 5 of the Michigan Rules for the Board of Law Examiners governs admission to the Michigan Bar for attorneys licensed in other jurisdictions. The Policy Statements from the Michigan Board of Law Examiners also provide guidance. The process in Michigan is called Admission Without Examination. Attorneys licensed in another jurisdiction must have actively practiced law as a principal occupation or business for three of the past five years.

Reciprocal Jurisdictions

The process in Michigan is not based on bar reciprocity with other jurisdictions. Attorneys meeting the requirements may apply for admission.

Attorneys from these states may be Admitted Without Exam in Michigan

Additional Requirements

Michigan’s additional reciprocity requirements include:

Intent to Practice Law in Michigan. Attorneys must intend to practice law in Michigan and intend in good faith to maintain an office in Michigan. An office in Michigan is a location where a telephone is regularly answered and provides for receipt of mail and service of pleadings. The Board will look at a lease, the attorney’s letterhead, or proof of residency. Satisfactory proof of an office must be received within three years.*

*Effective January 1, 2013, intent to have an office in Michigan will no longer be a requirement.

Law professors must intend to teach as a full-time instructor at a reputable and qualified Michigan law school.

Undergraduate Degree. Attorneys must have completed at least 60 semester hours (90 quarter hours) toward an undergraduate degree from an accredited school before entering law school.

Law Degree. A J.D. degree from a reputable and qualified law school at the time the degree was conferred that is incorporated in the United States, its territories, or the District of Columbia, and requires three school years of study for full-time students and four years of study for part-time or night students. A school year must be 30 weeks.

ABA approved law schools are reputable and qualified. Other schools may seek Board approval as reputable and qualified, including law schools that no longer exist. The Policy Statements issued by the Board of Law Examiners detail the requirements for non-ABA approved law school graduates.

Character and Fitness. Attorneys must meet the applicable character and fitness standards. The character and fitness report is conducted by the NCBE.

Good Standing and Prior Bar Exam. Attorneys must be in good standing where admitted.

Practice of Law. Attorneys licensed in another jurisdiction must have actively practiced law as a principal occupation or business for three of the past five years. For good cause, the Board may increase the five-year requirement. “Practice of law” includes:

  • Military Attorneys (on active duty, other than training or reserve duty, in the United States armed forces as a judge advocate, legal specialist, or legal officer)
  • Law Professors teaching at ABA approved law schools*
  • Judicial Clerks
  • Corporate Counsel*

*Law Professors and Corporate Counsel. Attorneys in an institutional setting that fail to meet the duration and practice requirements may apply for a special certificate. Attorneys must meet the other requirements for Admission on Motion. A special certificate allows an attorney to continue employment if he/she becomes an active member of the State Bar. If the attorney leaves his or her current employment, the special certificate automatically expires. Attorneys may apply to renew the special certificate if the new employment also qualifies. Practice under the special certificate does not count towards the law practice duration requirement.

  • Not specifically enumerated but likely included: Judges, Government Attorneys
  • Does not include: Practice under a special certificate or special legal consultant. Practice before an agency or department that does not require a law license.

MPRE. The Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) is not required.

Michigan Bar Reciprocity Application Procedure

Attorneys eligible for Admission on Motion in Michigan must complete the Application.

Applications are initially reviewed to determine if the materials facially meet Michigan’s requirements. If the application is returned, attorneys may seek waiver of a requirement by showing good cause by a standard of clear and convincing evidence. Once the NCBE character report process begins, all fees become nonrefundable.

Applications may be accepted at any time. The application takes approximately four months to process.