Republican attorney challenges requirement to join State Bar of Michigan

Aug 23, 2019

An attorney says she should not have to join the State Bar of Michigan in order to practice law, and she's filed a lawsuit to strike down the requirement.

Lucille Taylor, who filed the lawsuit, is a lawyer with a long history in state Republican politics. She's married to former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Cliff Taylor and served as legal counsel for Gov. John Engler in the 1990s. 

Taylor says sometimes she agrees with the positions taken by the State Bar of Michigan.

“But it should be my choice to be a member or not be a member,” she said. “I shouldn’t be required to do so in order to practice my profession.”

Taylor says she does not object to the portion of her dues that pay for policing the legal profession in Michigan. But she also says 20 other states as well as Washington DC do that without requiring lawyers to join an association.

“I believe in Michigan, we are the only type of trade or profession where you cannot practice your trade or profession without paying membership dues, and that should change,” she said.

The case relies heavily on a US Supreme Court decision that says public employees cannot be forced to pay union dues.

In a statement, the State Bar of Michigan said the role it plays is different than a union’s and that its rules protect the First Amendment rights of attorneys:

“The State Bar of Michigan strictly follows the rules established by the Michigan Supreme Court to protect the First Amendment rights of licensed Michigan lawyers developed in response to controlling U.S. Supreme Court law …”