Colorado Supreme Court
Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel
Promoting Professionalism. Protecting the Public.
Help Stop the Unauthorized Practice of Law
Lawyers reporting unlicensed practitioners can reduce harm done to the public and the courts.
By KIM IKELER
The unauthorized practice of law causes many recurring problems. Non-lawyers without the educational and ethical qualifications of those admitted to the Bar purvey useless and potentially harmful legal documents and provide incompetent advice. Both the public and the courts suffer.
To prevent this harm, the Colorado Supreme Court prohibits the unauthorized practice of law and has established a regulatory system to restrain it. Pursuant to Colorado Rule of Civil Procedure 228, the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel investigates reports of the unauthorized practice of law. When there is reasonable cause to believe that unlicensed persons have practiced law, and the matter cannot be otherwise resolved, OARC prosecutes those persons. Remedies include injunction, restitution and fines.
To succeed, OARC needs the help of the legal profession to report the unauthorized practice of law. Listed below are some examples and the consequences.
· A notario takes thousands of dollars from vulnerable clients to select and prepare immigration forms. The forms are incorrect and are rejected by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
· An unsupervised paralegal operates a business selecting and preparing bankruptcy forms. As part of her services, she advises clients how to conceal assets from creditors.
· A jailhouse lawyer continues his “practice” after leaving prison. He charges money to prepare incompetent pleadings for his clients.
· An unlicensed person prepares prolix pleadings on behalf of a friend and appears in court on the friend’s behalf. This interference unduly extends the case.
· A non-lawyer who espouses an alternative legal system prepares pleadings to be filed by relatives to delay an eviction action. The court’s time is wasted.
· A financial advisor sells his clients trust and estate documents prepared by non-lawyers. Drafting mistakes could cause future harm to the clients or their heirs.
· An unlicensed person endeavors to negotiate with an insurance company to settle another’s personal injury claim. Resolution of the claim is delayed.
If you learn that an unlicensed person is practicing law by giving legal advice or exercising legal discretion on behalf of another, report the situation to OARC. You can call the office at (303)457-5800 or send a letter with a brief description and any supporting documents to:
Unauthorized Practice of Law
Colorado Supreme Court Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel
1300 Broadway, Ste. 500
Denver, CO 80203.
Your involvement in submitting this information is a vital part of the Colorado Supreme Court’s efforts to ensure that unauthorized practice of law does not occur.
Kim Ikeler is Assistant Regulation Counsel with the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel with an emphasis on the unauthorized practice of law.