The Law for Lawyers Today

The Law for Lawyers Today

Ethics, Professional Responsibility and More

Category Archives: Licensing

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LinkedIn profile helps draw bar discipline in two states for lawyer who wasn’t licensed

Posted in Licensing, Social Media and Internet, Unauthorized practice
I love LinkedIn, but here’s a potential hazard — what you say there can and will be used against you if you’re engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. A Colorado lawyer found that out the hard way:  he was suspended in Pennsylvania for a year, and got the same discipline in Colorado, where he… Continue Reading

Ethics opinion nixes use of verein names in TX, but firms say “Business as usual.”

Posted in Disqualification, Law Practice Management, Multi-jurisdictional practice, Unauthorized practice
As we've predicted before, the increasing globalization of high-level legal practice continues to create questions about forms of legal practice – in particular, vereins, a structure aimed at letting firms based in different countries operate under a unified brand. Mega-firms Fulbright & Jaworski and Dentons have faced motions to disqualify centered on structural issues, and now a Texas ethics opinion issued last month questions whether lawyers in the Lone Star state can use a verein name on pleadings.… Continue Reading

Out-of-state lawyer disciplined for e-mail negotiations; no safe harbor from unauthorized practice, says MN court

Posted in Multi-jurisdictional practice, Unauthorized practice
Has your mother-in-law ever asked you for legal help? Giving legal advice to family members can be challenging for lots of reasons -- but it comes with the territory when you have a law license. A Colorado lawyer, however, recently got into disciplinary trouble for helping his Minnesota in-laws in a small collection matter. In a badly flawed decision, the Minnesota Supreme Court decided that he'd engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.… Continue Reading

Filing administrative appeal without being admitted results in dismissal

Posted in How Not to Practice, Licensing
The client of a Colorado lawyer who filed an administrative appeal in North Dakota without being admitted there got a harsh result — the North Dakota Supreme Court ruled in Blume Construction v. State that the lawyer’s action was the unauthorized practice of law, and therefore that the client’s appeal was void. Admission ticket required Blume Construction had been assigned a… Continue Reading

“Good … luck sweetie” letter, unauthorized practice, draw discipline complaint

Posted in How Not to Practice, Licensing, Unauthorized practice
Be aware of your jurisdiction’s limits on what a “retired” lawyer can and cannot do, and obey them — or risk being tagged for the unauthorized practice of law.   And, oh yeah — communicate politely.  That’s a  dual lesson a lawyer in Illinois may be about to learn, according to a disciplinary complaint filed in December. Retired… Continue Reading

Five legal ethics developments to watch in 2016

Posted in Competence, Conflicts, Law Practice Management, Multi-jurisdictional practice, Privilege, Social Media and Internet
What was the most important development in the legal ethics arena over the past five years?  I was honored to be asked by LexBlog, the folks who provide our blog platform, to share my views on this topic on the LXBN network, which has 8,000+ blog authors.  But of course, the invitation also made me think about… Continue Reading

LegalZoom GC sees self-help model as legal-services solution; others see problems

Posted in Licensing, Social Media and Internet, Unauthorized practice
With the goal of positioning his on-line legal forms company as a solution to America’s access-to-justice problem, Chas Rampenthal, General Counsel of LegalZoom, zoomed through my home state last week, with two speaking engagements.  I caught his speech at a breakfast meeting at my home-town bar association, the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association (@clemetrobar). A panacea for the under-served? Despite… Continue Reading

Unauthorized practice — a continuing risk for unregistered in-house lawyers

Posted in In-house Counsel, Licensing, Unauthorized practice
We’ve written before to remind in-house lawyers that even if you don’t sign pleadings or appear in court on behalf of your corporate employer, you are still practicing law when you give advice and participate in business transactions on your employer’s behalf.  If you do so without being duly licensed, you are straying into unauthorized practice, in… Continue Reading

Unauthorized practice? H&R Block exits immigration form business under Bar pressure

Posted in Licensing, Unauthorized practice
H&R Block announced in January that it would offer immigration document preparation services in some of its Texas stores.  The business model depended on customers going into the stores, where “trained immigration assistants” would help them use proprietary computer software to fill out the forms. After barely getting off the ground, though, the tax-help giant… Continue Reading

Licensing requirements trip up in-house lawyer

Posted in In-house Counsel, Licensing, Unauthorized practice
Small lapses can sometimes snowball into big problems, as an in-house Pennsylvania lawyer for a large pharmaceutical company found out when she was suspended for six months for the unauthorized practice of law. The lawyer failed to comply with her yearly continuing-legal-education requirements; as a result, she was placed on inactive status in 2009, and… Continue Reading

Filing complaint before being admitted pro hac vice voided pleading, says Ohio court of appeals

Posted in Multi-jurisdictional practice, Unauthorized practice
If your opposing counsel is from out of state and jumps the gun by filing a complaint before being admitted pro hac vice, can you get the complaint tossed?  According to a recent opinion from the Seventh District Ohio Court of Appeals, the answer is “yes.”  By implication, the opinion also points to some limits… Continue Reading

LegalZoom: Unauthorized practice? Or new legal services model?

Posted in Licensing, Unauthorized practice
Does a company like LegalZoom, that provides low-cost do-it-yourself legal documents, necessarily stray into the unauthorized practice of law?  The ABA Journal reports here, summarizing recent salvos in the LegalZoom war. Under LegalZoom’s business model, customers create legal documents by answering on-line questionnaires.  Then, LegalZoom employees review the answers, and out comes a will, or an… Continue Reading
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