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August 14, 2018

Task Force on the Model Definition of the Practice of Law

Comments on Draft Definition

Comment Submitted via Email

I've eagerly awaited this project, as Arizona, a state in which I am licensed, does not currently have an unauthorized practice statute, and is attempting to enact one.

Here is the problem that I have with the proposal:

First, the definition itself is nearly meaningless. I cannot find a way to structure the sentence so that it excludes, for example, teaching law to students in undergraduate school, law school, or in a CLE setting.

Second, the examples take in people whose activities historically have not been considered the practice of law:

  1. The police are required by law to advise people about their legal rights, as are child advocates, social workers, victim advocates, and many ombudsmen;
  2. Real estate agents regularly draft or complete documents that affect legal rights, and this is permitted in a majority of states without requiring that the agent be or work with an attorney;
  3. My understanding is that CPAs can represent their clients before certain adjudicative bodies, and I believe that other professionals can do so as well;
  4. Finally, parents regularly negotiate legal rights on behalf of their children, children do it on behalf of elderly parents, and spouses do it on one another's behalves (as do many partners and co-owners of businesses.)

For these reasons, as important as this project is, I do not think that the current definition will result in a workable, bright-line test between what is and is not the practice of law.


Corinne Cooper
Professor Emerita of Law