– Below are ethicalEsq-f/k/a postings and annotated web resources on this topic. Find our full list of annotated ethics links by clicking the Client Rights & Legal Ethics link on the Navigation Bar.
- bar & guild (April 26, 2005)
- Posting 02/24/05 carolyn and monica join the UPL posse
- Posting 02/15/04 For-Profit Self Help Chain Invades NYC
- Posting 10/06/03 Tracking Down the Source of Wacky Debtor Legalisms and UPL
- Posting 09/02/03 A Cogent Dissent to the ABA’s Approach to Defining the Practice of Law
- Posting 08/15/03 ABA’s Misplaced Paternalism
- Posting 07/29/03 DOJ & FTC Support Nonlawyers Doing Real Estate Closings in N.C.
- Posting 07/21/03 Competition & Ethics Issues on ABA Agenda in S.F.
- Posting 07/03/03 Nonlawyers Still Closed Out of N.C. Closings, Except for Ministerial Tasks
- Posting 07/01/03 Do New UPL Rules Protect Consumers or Lawyers in Arizona?
FTC and DOJ on Defining “Practice of Law” The Federal Trade Comm’n and Dept. of Justice presented joint comments (12/20/02) on the ABA’s draft Model Definition of the Practice of Law. The federal antitrust agencies concluded that the proposed definition was overly broad and would injure consumers and competition. The agencies urged the Task Force to permit lay competition that is in the public interest and craft an appropriate definition after careful review of the harms and benefits of lay participation in providing law-related services.
ABA Task Force on the Model Definition of the Practice of Law The Task Force made its Recommendation and Report in March ’03. The Recommendations are discussed in a Posting on 7/01/03. An appendix included State Definitions of the Practice of Law.
Lawyers Try to Reestablish Their Monopoly [scroll down to 2nd article; formerly at Nolo.com] This article, by attorneys Stephen R. Elias and Ralph Warner, describes and decries current efforts before the ABA to define “the practice of law,” and gives a brief history of the organized bar’s efforts to keep nonlawyers from performing law-related tasks.
Lawyer vs. NonLawyer In an article appearing in Legal Times (02-03-2003), James C. Turner, Executive Director of the legal reform group HALT, argues against the ABA’s proposed model rule defining “practice of law” and its corollary of “unauthorized practice.” Turner says the proposed model rule “poses a major threat to the rights of millions of American consumers who choose to handle their routine legal tasks with the help of nonlawyer resources.” In 2002, HALT opposed attempts by Arizona attorneys to curb competition from non-lawyers by expanding the definition of the “unauthorized practice of law.” On its UPL Project Home Page, HALT set forth its approach and principles:
One of the most effective ways to increase consumer choice in legal services would be to
abolish unauthorized practice statutes. As the simple and routine legal needs of millions of
Americans continue to go unmet each year, it is critical that consumers be able to utilize
independent paralegals and other nonlawyer resources.
At the core of HALT’s efforts to reform restrictions on unauthorized practice are three
The unauthorized practice of law means saying you are a lawyer when you are not;
Innovative partnering between lawyers and nonlawyers is permissible with client consent after full disclosure of work and fee arrangements; and
A client or customer complaint should be required before unauthorized practice of law proceedings can be initiated.
Scriveners in Cyberspace In this Hofstra law review article (44 pp., pdf), Prof. Catherine J. Lanctot takes a close look at the issues raised by online document preparation (especially interactive programs that present solutions to a consumer’s individual fact situation) and the regulation of the unauthorized practice of law. Included is a detailed history of the organized bar’s attempts to prohibit nonlawyers from providing consumers with law-related information and services.
- Also, see Prof. Lanctot’s article in the Duke Law Journal, (Cited: 49 Duke L. J. 147) Attorney-Client Relationships in Cyberspace: The Peril & the Promise: Nolo v. Texas This article contains a brief summary of the battle between Nolo.com and the Texas bar — when Texas lawyers tried unsuccesfully a few years back to ban Nolo’s publications from being sold or distributed in the state, claiming they amounted to the unauthorized practice of law.