Unauthorized Practice of Law
The State Bar is committed to tracking, preventing, and educating people about the unauthorized practice of law ("UPL") in Arizona. The State Bar has dedicated staff to this function.
Only members of the State Bar of Arizona and other persons who comply with the Arizona Supreme Court's rules regarding the practice of law may practice law in Arizona and, with very limited exceptions, only attorneys admitted to the State Bar of Arizona may provide legal advice in Arizona.
The practice of law is defined in Arizona Supreme Court Rule 31 (a)(2)(A):
Practice of law means providing legal advice or services to another by:
- Preparing any document in any medium intended to affect or secure legal rights for a specific person or entity;
- Preparing or expressing legal opinions;
- Representing another in a judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative proceeding, or other formal dispute resolution process such as arbitrations and mediations;
- Preparing any document through any medium for filing in any court, administrative agency or tribunal for a specific person or entity; or
- Negotiating legal rights or responsibilities for a specific person or entity.
The definition of the practice of law is consistent with decisions of the Supreme Court of Arizona.
Unauthorized Practice of Law
The unauthorized practice of law includes using a designation such as:
- "lawyer," "attorney at law, "counselor at law," "law," "law office," "J.D.," "Esq.," or other equivalent words by any person not authorized to practice, if its use is reasonably likely to induce others to believe that the person is authorized to engage in the practice of law in this state.
Certified Legal Document Preparers
The Legal Document Preparer Program certifies legal document preparers in Arizona. Legal Document Preparers are certified individuals who prepare or provide legal documents without the supervision of an attorney. Legal Document Preparers may provide general legal information but may not give legal advice.
Effective July 1, 2003, all individuals and businesses preparing legal documents without the supervision of an attorney in good standing with the State Bar of Arizona, must be certified pursuant to Rule 31 and Arizona Code of Judicial Administration §7-208. For more information on this program, go to www.azcourts.gov/cld/LegalDocumentPreparers or call (602) 452-3378.
Fraudulent "notarios" - a term coming from the Spanish term for public notaries, and referring to non-lawyer immigration consultants - have long scammed immigrants in need of legal help. Federal authorities have rarely attended to the problem, and there is no federal statute which addresses the practice of immigration law by those unauthorized to do so.
Tips to Avoid Being Victimized by a Notario
Comprehensive Immigration Reform has not passed. Beware of any "legal representatives" claiming there is a secret new law that can help you.
Talk to a qualified immigration attorney and walk away if they cannot show you their license. You can go to www.azbar.org to verify their credentials.
Never sign any forms with false information and ask for proof, like a receipt, that your paperwork has been filed with the government.
Don't pay cash up front. Ask for a written contract spelling out all the fees.
Anyone who believes they have been victimized can call the Department of Homeland Security tip line at 1-800-347-2423 or visit http://www.ice.gov/tips. In addition, the Arizona Attorney General's Office has both civil and criminal enforcement authority over notarios. Its contact number is: (602) 542-5025. The Federal Trade Commission takes reports at www.ftc.gov/complaint or 1-877-382-4357.
The State Bar of Arizona has the authority to bring an action to enforce rules regarding non-lawyers engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.
You may wish to file a complaint regarding the conduct of the non-lawyer. The State Bar will review the allegations and determine whether it is appropriate to prosecute the individual who appears to be engaging in the unauthorized practice of law or the Bar may refer, coordinate, and assist the investigation and prosecution of the matter by the Office of the Attorney General, United States Bankruptcy Trustees, Certified Legal Document Preparer Program or other agencies.
Unauthorized Practice of Law Advisory Opinions
The State Bar's UPL (unauthorized practice of law) Advisory Committee now provides attorneys and consumers with non-binding written advisory opinions. The opinions interpret the UPL Supreme Court Rules and the Certified Legal Document Preparer Code.
Summaries of Recent Opinions
UPL 12-01 - Scope of Legal Services to HOA's (March 2012)
Except under limited circumstances, non-lawyers employed by community association management companies would be engaging in the unauthorized practice of law by drafting documents for and providing legal services to homeowner and condominium associations under Rule 31, Ariz. R. Sup. Ct., and Arizona Code of Judicial Administration § 7-208.
UPL 10-02 - Out of State Attorney Practicing Law in the State of Arizona
This is an Advisory Opinion regarding whether an attorney admitted to practice law in a jurisdiction other than Arizona may practice the law of that other jurisdiction while residing in the state of Arizona.
UPL 10-01 - Out-of-State Lawyers Authorized to Practice Law Under Rule 38(f)
This is an Advisory Opinion regarding Rule 38(f) of the Rules of the Arizona Supreme Court regarding the question of whether out-of-state lawyers must be active in at least one jurisdiction.
UPL 09-01 - Registered In-House Counsel Court Appearance Limitation
This is an Advisory Opinion regarding Rules 31, 38 and 42, of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Arizona regarding the authorization and limitation of registered in-house court appearances.
UPL 07-02 - Temporary Practice of Law
This is an Advisory Opinion regarding Rule 31 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Arizona regarding lawyers not admitted to practice in Arizona living in Arizona part-time and advising ongoing Arizona clients regarding matters of federal law.
UPL 07-01 - Contingency Fee by Certified Legal Document Preparer
This is an Advisory Opinion regarding Rule 31 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Arizona interpreting provisions of Rule 31 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Arizona, and § 7-208 of the Arizona Code of Judicial Administration, applicable to Certified Legal Document Preparers.
UPL 06-04 - Representation by Non-Arizona Attorney in Private Arbitration
This is an Advisory Opinion regarding Arizona Supreme Court Rules 31, 33, and 42 (ER 5.5) pertaining to whether a non-Arizona attorney is engaging in the unauthorized practice of law by representing a client in a securities arbitration conducted by a private dispute resolution service as required by the National Association of Securities Dealers or the New York Stock Exchange.
UPL 06-03 - Certified Legal Document Preparer and Paralegal
This is an Advisory Opinion regarding Rule 31 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Arizona regarding whether an attorney may ethically employ a paralegal who independently operates a certified legal document preparer business, and whether the paralegal can prepare documents for the attorney's clients as a certified legal document preparer.
UPL 06-02 - Legal Document Preparer Designation and Limitations
This is an Advisory Opinion regarding Rule 31 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Arizona and Arizona Code of Judicial Admin. § 7-208 regarding the designation "paralegal," and services provided by a certified legal document preparer.
UPL 06-01 - Preparation and Submission of No-Action Letter
This is an Advisory Opinion regarding Rule 31of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Arizona regarding whether an individual is engaging in the unauthorized practice of law by preparing no-action letters, which involve the Securities Division of the Corporation Commission, if the individual is not an active member of the State Bar of Arizona.
UPL 05-01 - Tax Payer Representative's Requests
This is an Advisory Opinion regarding Rule 31 of the Rules of Supreme Court of Arizona regarding whether an attorney practicing outside the State of Arizona, who is not a licensed Arizona attorney, or CPA or IRS agent, is engaged in the unauthorized practice of law by submitting a request to the Arizona Department of Revenue for private tax payer ruling or information letter on behalf of an out-of-state client.
UPL 04-03 - Non-lawyer In-house Employee Legal Services
This is an Advisory Opinion regarding Rule 31 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Arizona and Arizona Code of Judicial Admin. § 7-208 regarding the services provided by non-lawyer in-house employees of a company (not a law firm).
UPL 04-02 - Property Management Companies
This is an Advisory Opinion regarding Rule 31 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Arizona regarding a property management company's preparation of late payment notices, eviction notices, and demand letters seeking payment of rent, as well as the preparation and recording of liens, and participation in mediations regarding unpaid rent.
UPL 04-01 - Preparation of Mechanic's Lien Notices
This is an Advisory Opinion regarding Rule 31 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Arizona regarding the preparation, service, and recording of mechanics lien notices.
About the UPL Advisory Committee
The UPL Advisory Committee issues written advisory opinions. All opinions rendered are non-binding and advisory only, based on the Committee's reading of the Arizona Supreme Court Rules regarding the Practice of Law and the Certified Legal Document Preparer Code. Although non-binding, these opinions constitute an important resource for Arizona attorneys and the public to identify applicable rules, point out relevant UPL Advisory opinions, provide other resources, and give guidance on practice of law questions.
Request a UPL Opinion
The request for a written advisory opinion must be in writing, and either mailed, faxed, or hand-delivered to an office of the State Bar of Arizona. The request should include all of the operative facts upon which the request for opinion is based, and identify the specific unauthorized practice of law question. Please include the name and address of the person, and organization where relevant. The Committee will not consider or issue advisory opinions for matters pending in any Arizona court or other tribunal; however, it may requests as to pending issues from a court or tribunal directly.
For More Information
Contact Ward Parker, UPL Attorney for the State Bar of Arizona at 602.340.7292, or email email@example.com.
State Bar of Arizona
4201 N. 24th Street, Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85016-6266