Unauthorized Practice of Law

1030 Words Oct 11th, 2011 5 Pages
Unauthorized Practice of Law:
The paralegal and UPL

Polly Paralegal finds himself in an ethical dilemma when Mr. Stan Smith asks him “Do the grounds for divorce in North Carolina include adultery?” A day later, the wife of Stan Smith asks if she has grounds for divorce in the same state because her husband has committed adultery. If Polly Paralegal answers that question for either one of his friends he will be committing UPL or Unauthorized Practice of Law. The consequences for UPL can be devastating to a paralegal and the entire law office that the paralegal that is employed by.
It is Paralegal Polly’s obligation to know and follow the rules and regulations put forth by the State Board. The rules are said and stated for Board
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One scenario where this could fall into play would be: An attorney is in a rush to submit a preparation form and delegates the paralegal to sign the form. If the paralegal does so, they will be committing the unauthorized practice of law because they are not permitted to sign legal forms and furthermore, if signing the supervising attorney’s name, they are committing fraud.
In some states UPL is not only criminalized in itself, but another charge of falsely claiming to be a lawyer even thought this is not how the paralegal intended the situation to turn out. In the innocence of trying to help out a friend by sharing their legal know how, they in turn can be persecuted, lose their jobs or even their careers. Any person of the public can put in their opinion about a legal situation, or tell a person what they think they should do and it would not be considered unauthorized practice of law. However, when a person is a paralegal, any spoken or written opinion about what a person should do in a legal situation can be considered UPL. Whether it is a friend, family member, or just someone a person knows, the situation stays the same. It is clear that only an attorney should provide legal counsel, legal representation or sign legal documents. A paralegal may do ninety percent of the work on a client’s case but in the end the attorney is the only one who can do these things. Polly Paralegal needs
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