The ABA Standing Committee on Client Protection just released a survey it conducted on unlicensed practice of law programs ( UPL) in United States jurisdictions in 2011-12.
Only 29 jurisdictions responded to the survey. Twenty-three of the 29 actively enforce UPL regulations, although some jurisdictions indicate that insufficient funding or resources make enforcement challenging. Nine jurisdictions stated that enforcement is inactive or non-existent.
Of the jurisdictions reporting, 21 states permit some form of limited practice by non-lawyers. Here is the summary from the report:
Twenty-one jurisdictions authorize nonlawyers to perform some legal services in limited areas. Sixteen permit legal assistants, legal technicians or paralegals to perform some legal services under the supervision of a lawyer; six jurisdictions permit nonlawyers to draft legal documents. Other allowable nonlawyer activities include: real estate agents/brokers may draft documents for property transactions or attend real estate closings; nonlawyers may attend (and in some states participate in) administrative proceedings; and participate in alternative dispute resolution proceedings. Many of these jurisdictions do not classify these activities as the practice of law.
There are only six jurisdictions in the US that permit nonlawyers to prepare legal documents,
(without providing legal advice). These jurisdictions are California, Arizona, the District of Columbia, Florida, Maine, and Missouri. In these jurisdictions the “nonlawyers” are referred to as – “Legal Document Preparers” or “Legal Technicians”.
I’ll review this further shortly.