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

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

In a puzzling ruling handed down on May 25, a Florida district court judge ruled that the court lacked jurisdiction to address whether a Massachusetts lawyer who appeared on behalf of his defendant client at a Florida mediation was engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.
Continue Reading Florida district court rules it lacks jurisdiction to determine unauthorized practice charge

Color speech bubbles with censored swearing wordsBe 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

Tensed Businesswoman Using Computer At DeskWith 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

U.S. MapWe’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

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 groundU.S. Department of Homeland Security Logo, though, the tax-help

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

Signing documentDoes 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,