Michigan Bar Associations

In the state of Michigan there are countless local bar associations, including the Grand Rapids Bar Association, Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association, Oakland and Ingham County Bar Associations, and even “special purpose” bars such as Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan, Michigan Lawyers Alliance, Wayne County Criminal Defense Bar Association, and Michigan Defense Trial Counsel.  While the number of Michigan Bar Associations are too numerous to mention, we’ll discuss a few of them below.

Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association.  The oldest bar association in the state and one of the three oldest in the U.S., this bar was organized before Michigan became a state, in 1836 when Andrew Jackson was President.  Originally known as the Bar of the City of Detroit, the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association was formally incorporated 125 years ago, established to “promote the due administration of justice, maintain the dignity of the profession and cultivate social intercourse among its members” in 1881.  Even today, this bar association is highly dedicated to community service and committed to maintaining strong relationships with the judiciary and members.

Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan, or CDAM, is the largest statewide criminal defense lawyer organization in the state and a 501(C)(3) nonprofit.  CDAM works frequently with lawmakers regarding changes to legislature and actively promotes expertise in constitutional and criminal law, procedure, and focuses on improving trial and appellate advocacy.  CDAM hosts the Trial Practice College and also sponsors educational opportunities at a wide array of conferences.  These conferences include presentations from many of the most knowledgeable and skilled lawyers in specific practice areas of criminal defense.  The Trial Practice College is where criminal defense attorneys are taught the differences between trying to win cases, and trying cases to win.


Michigan Defense Trial Counsel, or MDTC.  MDTC was created for civil defense attorneys who are licensed in the state and devote the majority of their practice defending civil litigation clients, whether individuals or corporations.  The primary focus of MDTC is helping civil defense lawyers who practice in Michigan increase their knowledge and improve their skills through the various events and tools provided by MDTC.  Members of this bar association may join a specific section such as commercial litigation or appellate law.

WCCDBA, Wayne County Criminal Defense Bar Association.  Serving as a conduit for the sharing of information between prosecutors and the defense bar, WCCDBA advocates on behalf of criminal defense lawyers who play a vital role in justice administration.  According to the bar’s Mission Statement, Article II the organization’s purpose is to promote improvements in the administration of justice in the Criminal Division of the Third Circuit Court.

Ingham County Bar Association.  ICBA provides services and programs designed to improve the judicial system in the greater Lansing community, and was founded in 1895.  The Ingham County Bar Association provides professional and educational programs to its members, working to foster quality legal services in the Lansing area.  Members of ICBA enjoy many benefits including BRIEFS, a monthly publication focusing on happenings in the local legal community and in-depth articles on various law topics, seminars and continuing legal education in various practice sections including criminal law, family law, immigration law, litigation, and others, and also hosts social events designed to bring members of ICBA together.

These are just a handful of the dozens of Michigan Bar Associations, and each serves its own purpose. Bar associations play different roles; some are responsible for regulating the legal profession in their own jurisdiction, while others are dedicated to serving members of their organization.  In many instances, a bar association is both.  There are integrated bars that are qualified to establish admission and conduct rules by the particular state’s highest court, and city or county local bar associations that conduct the business of attorneys.  Most bar associations in Michigan have websites where you can get more information.  A list of local and special purpose bar associations can be found at the State Bar of Michigan website.