APPEALS, Representation by non-attorney agent, Unauthorized practice of law.
CITE AS: State Bar of Michigan v Galloway; 422 Mich 188 (1985).
Appeal pending: No
Plaintiff: State Bar of Michigan
Defendant: James Galloway (Gates McDonald and Co.)
Docket No: NA
SUPREME COURT HOLDING: The last sentence of Section 31 allows non-attorney agents to represent employers in any proceeding before the MESC including representation before the Referees without engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.
FACTS: In 1963 the State Bar of Michigan obtained a permanent injunction enjoining Gates McDonald from representing employer clients at MESC hearings. In 1981 Defendants sought dissolution of the injunction. The circuit judge denied the motion but the Court of Appeals reversed.
In another case the Michigan Hospital Association brought an action to permit its non-attorney agents to represent member hospitals in MESC proceedings. The circuit court granted the relief requested but a panel of the Court of Appeals reversed.
Those conflicting Court of Appeals decisions were considered by the Supreme Court.
DECISION: Non-attorney agents are allowed to represent employers in hearings before MESC Referees and in any proceeding before the MES Commission without engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.
RATIONALE: The statute provides: "any employer may be represented in any proceeding before the Commission by counsel or other duly authorized agent." "Counsel" clearly means attorney. "Other duly authorized agent" provides for representation by non-attorney agents. This specific statutory enactment erected an exception to the to the older, more general statutes prohibiting the unauthorized practice of law.