As with most states, Utah requires individuals to be properly licensed, active members of the Utah Bar and maintain their good standing with the Bar in order to practice law. Individuals who do not meet those requirements are not allowed to practice law in Utah, but that doesn’t stop people from trying to help others with their problems. The results of this well-meaning help can mean innocent victims are faced with significant consequences and those who violate the unauthorized practice rules are faced with monetary sanctions. But what, exactly, is the unauthorized practice of law?
Friends, Family, and Businessmen
For lawyers, the most entertaining type of unauthorized practice is when a family member, preacher, or other trusted individual offers to represent someone’s interest by writing documents or appearing before the court. Entertaining because it makes for great stories, but unfortunate for the individual trusting the non-lawyer with their representation. Lawyers have both education and experience that helps them navigate the legal process and individuals without these credentials are likely to make missteps that will jeopardize the interests of those they are trying to help.
Businessmen also want to be able to represent their business in court. There are some situations where this is legal and others where a business must have an attorney represent it. A good business litigation attorney can help you understand when you can appear and represent your business and when it is to your advantage to have professional help.
Another common source of unauthorized practice of law comes from those who work closely with the legal field and feel like they have enough exposure to give advice. While they may be experts in a very small area of interest, they likely do not have the breadth of understanding to know when someone’s situation has gone past their expertise. This is why, when you call a lawyer’s office, the secretary or paralegal answering the phone may not be able to answer your questions without first talking to the attorney in the office.
There are certain types of specialized licenses that allow individuals to handle certain matters. Patent agents, for example, can help inventors file patent applications. Immigration Consultants can help families and businesses looking to move to the U.S. Accountants can generally give excellent advice on taxes and help you interact with the IRS. Each of these professions is also licensed and practitioners should have a good understanding of what is within their field and what would be the unauthorized practice of law.
If you’re facing a civil lawsuit, experienced business litigation lawyers, like the team from Dunn Law Firm, can help you argue and defend a variety of business and civil litigation issues. Reach out to the Dunn Law Firm by calling (435) 628-5405 and set up a free consultation today.