Unauthorized Practice of Law
Mr. and Mrs. Smith both started the issue of UPL for Polly Paralegal when they both called her. Mr. Smith called Polly Paralegal to see what the grounds for a divorce are in North Carolina. He didn’t get ahold of her so he left her a message on her answering machine. Later that day Mrs. Smith calls and leaves a message on Polly’s answering machine also, asking if she has grounds for a divorce in North Carolina because she found out her husband committed adultery.
There are a couple of issues here. The first issue is if Polly Paralegal contacts Mr. Smith and does more than take information for her to give to the supervising attorney then she will be engaging in UPL. The second issue is they both called a mutual friend who has legal knowledge and asked for legal advice knowing she’s not an attorney and can’t answer their questions. The third issue is if Polly contacts both Mr. and Mrs. Smith about their divorce then that creates a conflict of interest.
In every state it is illegal for a paralegal to practice law, they are not attorneys. If Polly Paralegal contacts them and gives them legal advice she would be engaging in UPL because she would be acting as an attorney but she is not an attorney. The best thing for her to do is tell them she cannot give them legal advice because she is not an attorney but she can get the information and give it to her supervising attorney so he or she can help Mr. and Mrs. Smith with their divorce situation. In order to find out if Polly Paralegal would be engaging in UPL if she answers Mr. and Mrs. Smith you have to know what UPL is and the rules. UPL is short for unauthorized practice of law. UPL is basically when an attorney practices law where they are not licensed to and paralegals are not allowed to give legal advice. Attorneys can only practice law in the states where they are licensed. Paralegals...
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