Problems with a Non-Lawyer

What should I do if I am harmed by a non-lawyer acting like a lawyer?
What is the purpose of the investigation and prosecution of the unauthorized practice of law?
How do I make a charge to the State Bar of Arizona, regarding a non-lawyer?
What happens after I submit a charge?
If I suffer a loss as a result of the unauthorized practice of law, can the State Bar get my money back?
Will filing a charge against a non-lawyer cost me?
Will there be a trial?
What kinds of actions can be taken against a non-lawyer?
Will the non-lawyer know about my charge?
Are the records regarding UPL cases open to the public?

 


  

What should I do if I am harmed by a non-lawyer acting like a lawyer?

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 charge regarding the conduct of the non-lawyer.  The State Bar will review the allegations and determine whether it is appropriate to investigate and file a charge against the individual who appears to be engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.  Alternatively, 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.

What is the purpose of the investigation and prosecution of the unauthorized practice of law?

The purpose of the unauthorized practice of law system is to protect the public.  The State Bar of Arizona and the courts can prevent an individual or company from continuing to engage in the unauthorized practice of law by issuing a civil injunction or by entering into an agreement to cease and desist engaging in the practice of law. 

The State Bar of Arizona, as an administrative agency, does not and cannot give individual legal service or advice to any person making allegations.  Nor can the State Bar of Arizona assist you in getting money damages.

However, the court may require restitution as part of its judgment.  Any other loss you may have sustained as a result of the conduct of the non-lawyer cannot be recovered through a Bar unlicensed practice of law proceeding.  If you have suffered a financial or property loss, your rights must be enforced by the usual legal methods against the person responsible for the loss.

In addition, the State Bar has no authority to review a court decision on a particular matter and the Bar's unauthorized practice of law system should never be used as a substitute for an appeal of such cases.

How do I make a charge to the State Bar of Arizona?

You may make allegations regarding the unlicensed practice of law by contacting unauthorized practice of law for the State Bar of Arizona at 4201 N. 24th Street, Suite 100, Phoenix, Arizona, 85016-6266, or by telephone at 602.340.7280.   Be certain to provide the Bar your name, address, and phone number as well as the name, address and phone number of the non-lawyer if you have that information.  Try to set forth the facts on which your allegations are based.  Include copies of any court papers, documents, letters or other materials that pertain to your allegations with your charge.  Please do not send original documents.  You can obtain a charge form by calling 602.340.7280, requesting one via email to lawyerinfo@staff.azbar.org, or click here.

What happens after I submit a charge?

All matters received by the State Bar of Arizona are reviewed by the State Bar UPL Counsel to determine if the Bar has jurisdiction to investigate the allegations.  If the State Bar of Arizona has jurisdiction, the inquiry is considered a charge.  The charge may be referred to an investigator of the State Bar for investigation or may be investigated by UPL Counsel.  If the Bar determines that there is probable Cause to establish a violation of the rule by clear and convincing evidence, the charge may be prosecuted in Superior Court.

If I suffer a loss as a result of the unauthorized practice of law, can the State Bar get my money back?

The State Bar is authorized to seek an order of restitution in appropriate cases.  If a lawsuit is filed, the State Bar may request restitution but it will not seek to recover money damages for you. The State Bar seeks in its lawsuit to enjoin the unauthorized practice of law in the future.  Sometimes as a result of an unauthorized practice lf law investigation, the matter is resolved by an agreement with the respondent that includes restitution to the complaining person.  However, the State Bar cannot promise such a result.

Will submitting an inquiry against a non-lawyer costs me?

No cost or fee is charged for submitting an inquiry against a non-lawyer.  Some of your time to attend hearings and testifying at trial may be required.

Will there be a trial?

If the State Bar recommends litigation, UPL Counsel will file a formal complaint against the non-lawyer before the superior court.  If there is no agreement reached by the State Bar and the non-lawyer there will be a trial on the complaint.

The judge of the superior court will hear all relevant evidence, which may include the complainant's testimony, that of the non-lawyer, and any other witnesses.  The judge then reaches a decision and files an order. 

What kinds of actions can be taken against a non-lawyer?

If it is determined that the conduct does not involve the unlicensed practice of law, that it is an isolated incident which is not likely to be requested and will not result in a likelihood of future public harm, that the individual is no longer in Arizona, or that the complaining party does not wish to cooperate with the investigation, the State Bar will close the case.

If it is determined that the individual did engage in the unlicensed practice of law and that the activity is likely to continue, the State Bar may request that the individual sign a cease and desist agreement that can be entered as an order of the court.  The non-lawyer will acknowledge that the conduct is the unlicensed practice of law and will agree to refrain from engaging in the conduct in the future.

If the conduct involves the unlicensed practice of law and the individual will not sign a cease and desist agreement, the State Bar may recommend filing a civil action in the superior court seeking a civil injunction, which orders the non-lawyer to stop engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.  The Bar can also bring an action before the superior court for contempt.

If the conduct of the non-lawyer appears to be a violation of the consumer fraud statute, the matter may also be referred to the Office of the Attorney General for their review and investigation.  If the conduct of the non-lawyer appears to violate Section 110 of the United States Bankruptcy Code, the matter may also be referred to U.S. Bankruptcy Trustees.  Complains that allege unauthorized practice of law in the area of immigration may be referred to the Office of the Attorney General for their review and investigation.  Unauthorized Practice of Law in immigration matters is a violation of Arizona Revised Statutes that make such practice a felony.

Will the non-lawyer know about my charge?

Typically the non-lawyer will be sent a copy of your charge during the course of the investigation.  Additionally, if the non-lawyer asks who complained, your name will be given.  Anonymity may only be granted in extreme circumstances and should be discussed with the UPL attorney before submitting the charge.

Are the records against non-lawyers open to the public?

Once an inquiry is reviewed and a case is opened, pursuant to Rule 80(b) Ariz. R. Sup. Ct. the state bar file, shall be open to the public.  This rule must be consulted to determine the information that is available to the public.




Copyright ©2004-2019 State Bar of Arizona