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Author Topic: Where is the legal line  (Read 869 times)

RCD

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Where is the legal line
« on: Jan 27, 2006, 02:53:56 PM »
Hello Soc,

     I have become successful is self representation thanks in latge part to your direct advice and input.  I say that I have become successful because, first I am winning and second, because, three times now attnys have approached me and asked me what firm i am working with.  

     The last time I was approached, after declairing that I am not an attny and am working pro per, the attny asked me for a contact number which I provided.  

     Today I received a call from that attny who asked me if i would be interested in doing research and document prep for estate planning and trusts.  Further discuyssion revealed that I would be interviewing clients, collecting information, then researching and preparing draft documents that would later be reviewed by the attny and ultimately filed as appropiate.  

     Suggested compensation was interesting, however, I am concerned that these activities may be bumping up against the line of practicing without a liscence.  

     All work will be reviewed by a liscensed attny, is that enough?  Work comes from Michigan, Indiana and Ohio.

so here is the question:  can a layman do all the work to prepare documents that will be filed in court under the supervision of a liscensed attny without crossing the legal line?

I hope the answer is yes ....

Blessings and Success

RCD


socrateaser

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RE: Where is the legal line
« Reply #1 on: Jan 27, 2006, 03:45:47 PM »
>so here is the question:  can a layman do all the work to
>prepare documents that will be filed in court under the
>supervision of a liscensed attny without crossing the legal
>line?

An attorney must not engage or assist another in the unauthorized practice of law. However, an attorney may supervise another person as long as that person does not provide legal advice, and the attorney stays in close contact with the client and remains personally responsible for the final work product.

An assistant may fill in forms for a client, take statistical information, do research, and even write memorandums of law (but only for the attorney -- not for the client). But, the assistant cannot question a client for information in order to elicit the facts necessary to obtain a legal conclusion, because an assistant is not a lawyer, and cannot be expected to know the right questions to ask -- similar to a nurse who takes info about a patient, but doesn't make a diagnosis and doesn't engage in an in depth investigation into a patient's condition.

Obviously, there is some gray area here -- and as the cost of legal services continues to rise, paralegals are becoming more knowledgeable and are getting more sophisticated in dealing with clients, just as nurses are getting more sophisticated in dealing with patients.

Ultimately, it's up to the lawyer to supervise and decide what the paralegal can and cannot do. A little mistake will go unnoticed -- a big mistake will lead to suspension or disbarrment.

But, as for you, if you are relying on the instructions and supervision of an attorney, then you cannot be held personally liable for unauthorized practice of law -- unless you start moonlighting -- then you would be subject to legal sanction, which in some jurisdictions is a civil penalty (OR), while in other's, it's a misdemeanor (CA).

RCD

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Thank You - nm
« Reply #2 on: Jan 27, 2006, 08:24:28 PM »
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