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Unauthorized Practice of Law (UPL)

What is the "practice of law"?

What is the "unauthorized practice of law"?

What is the difference between legal information and legal advice?

Who can provide legal advice and practice law in Arizona?

What entity has jurisdiction over the practice of law?

Who regulates the conduct of nonlawyers?

How do I report the unauthorized practice of law in Arizona?

What happens after I submit a charge about the unauthorized practice of law?

 

 

What is the "practice of law"?

The practice of law is defined by Arizona Supreme Court Rule 31(a)(2)(A), which states:

"Practice of law" means providing legal advice or services to or for another by:

  1. preparing any document in any medium intended to affect or secure legal rights for a specific person or entity;
  2. preparing or expressing legal opinions;
  3. representing another in a judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative proceeding, or other formal dispute resolution process such as arbitration and mediation;
  4. preparing any document through any medium for filing in any court, administrative agency or tribunal for a specific person or entity; or
  5. negotiating legal rights or responsibilities for a specific person or entity.

What is the "unauthorized practice of law"?

The unauthorized practice of law is defined by Arizona Supreme Court Rule 31(a)(2)(B). That rule can be summarized as follows:

“Unauthorized practice of law” includes but is not limited to:

  1. engaging in the practice of law by (a) persons who are not members of the State Bar of Arizona (including disbarred lawyers); or (b) lawyers who have been suspended from the practice of law in Arizona; or (c) in-house counsel for a single for-profit or non-profit corporation, association or other organizational entity; or
  2. using the designations “lawyer,” “attorney at law,” “counselor at law,” “law,” “law office,” “J.D.,” “Esq.,” or other equivalent words by the following, the use of which is reasonably likely to induce others to believe that the person or entity is authorized to engage in the practice of law in this state: (a) any person who is not a member of the State Bar of Arizona (including disbarred lawyers); (b) lawyers who have been suspended from the practice of law in Arizona; or (c) in-house counsel for a single for-profit or non-profit corporation, association or other organizational entity.

What is the difference between legal information and legal advice?

It is important to know the difference between legal information and legal advice. Legal information is a statement of the law or legal procedure. Legal advice results from the application of the law to facts specific to a person’s situation.

You may obtain general legal information from nonlawyers, which might assist you in deciding how to address a particular legal situation, but nonlawyers are prohibited from giving legal advice (including advocating on your behalf or recommending the form or document you should file in court).

Only lawyers can give you legal advice. When you hire a lawyer, you will receive advice specific to your problem. To confirm that someone is a lawyer authorized to practice in Arizona, click here.

Here are some tips to help you decide the difference between legal information and legal advice.

  • Legal information includes facts about the law or court procedures, which is generic and applies to everyone or a class of people in a particular situation. Legal information communicates facts about court procedures, legal resources, court records and due dates. Legal information may be found in informational pamphlets and copies of statutes or other law.
  • Legal advice includes any written or oral statement that (a) interprets some facet of the law, court rules or court procedures, or recommends a specific course of conduct a person should take in an actual or potential legal proceeding; (b) applies the law to an individual’s specific factual situation; or (c) requires the person giving the advice to have knowledge of the law and legal principles beyond familiarity with legal requirements and procedures.

Tip: If you have already decided what legal action you want to take, legal information may help you understand the tasks you must undertake and the procedures you need to follow to accomplish the desired outcome

Who can provide legal advice and practice law in Arizona?

Only active members of the State Bar of Arizona and other persons authorized by the Arizona Supreme Court’s rules may provide legal advice in Arizona.

What entity has jurisdiction over the practice of law?

The Arizona Constitution grants the Arizona Supreme Court with jurisdiction over the practice of law and the unauthorized practice of law.

Who regulates the conduct of nonlawyers?

Arizona Supreme Court Rule 31 gives the State Bar of Arizona the authority to investigate allegations of the unauthorized practice of law and to file actions and proceedings related to such activities. The State Bar can enter into consent agreements with nonlawyers, file complaints (or lawsuits) in superior court, and prosecute persons and entities in superior court for engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.

How do I report the unauthorized practice of law in Arizona?

You may obtain information about filing a charge (or complaint) about a nonlawyer by contacting the State Bar of Arizona at (602) 340-7292 or (602) 340-7280, or by sending an email message to lawyerinfo@staff.azbar.org

What happens after I submit a complaint about the unauthorized practice of law?

Initially, , you will speak with a State Bar staff member regarding your concern that someone has engaged in or is engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. You may also speak with a State Bar lawyer regarding your concerns. If there is insufficient evidence to support a finding of the unauthorized practice of law, the matter will be closed. If, however, there is enough evidence indicating that a person or entity has engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, a State Bar lawyer will contact and obtain information from you and the nonlawyer. After an investigation, the matter may be closed, a consent agreement may be filed, or a complaint may be filed in superior court by a State Bar lawyer. Once a complaint is filed in court, the case may be dismissed, the individual may consent to the entry of a cease and desist order and permanent injunction, or a trial may be held. If the matter proceeds to trial, you may be asked to testify. There is no right to a jury trial in superior court for engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. A judge rules on both factual and legal issues. Either party may appeal a superior court judge’s ruling to the Arizona Court of Appeals.

For more information contact the State Bar of Arizona by email at lawyerinfo@staff.azbar.org.

Mailing address:  State Bar of Arizona

                          Unauthorized Practice of Law

                          4201 North 24th Street, Suite 100

                          Phoenix, AZ 85016-6266

 

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