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Task Force on the Model Definition of the Practice of Law

Comments on Draft Definition

Comment Submitted via Email

Dear Mr. Garwin

I think this definition is too far reaching.

We at Watchful Eye Investigation LLC, help citizens recover assets. Often we are talking to heirs and would fall under every item listed below (copied from the " Definition").

(c) A person is presumed to be practicing law when engaging in any of the following conduct on behalf of another:

(1) Giving advice or counsel to persons as to their legal rights or responsibilities or to those of others;

(2) Selecting, drafting, or completing legal documents or agreements that affect the legal rights of a person;

(3) Representing a person before an adjudicative body, including, but not limited to, preparing or filing documents or conducting discovery; or

(4) Negotiating legal rights or responsibilities on behalf of a person.

Most investigators have at some time or another helped people recover their lost assets. Just the mere fact that we direct the person on where to sign the documents or that we tell the person the money we found is theirs and they are legally entitled to it, puts our businesses in jeopardy under this definition.

In Oregon, on estate matters (depending on the value), a citizen may recover their assets as an heir and represent other heirs of the estate. Few people know this. You do not need an attorney to file a small estate, however, it is helpful if someone tells you how to do it. The documents are self explanatory but you need to know which documents are required and where to file them.

In the state of Florida it is not possible for a citizen to file an estate (over $5,000.00), without the help of a lawyer yet the documents required are so basic and logical I am shocked that the law is so rigid.

A definition that excludes a citizen the right to help themselves or the right to help others is detrimental to all. Under this definition a parent cannot advise their children of their rights, they can't help a relative or friend write a contract, they can't file legal documents on behalf of a relative or friend, they cannot talk to the insurance adjuster on behalf of their teenager about an accident.

All of us fall under these definitions at sometime or other. The Pro Se Law Center: "Pro Se means "on one's own behalf." A 1991 American Bar Association study of self-represented litigants showed:

Persons with incomes less than $50,000 are more likely to represent themselves. About 20% of self-represented litigants report they can afford an attorney but do not want one. Self-represented persons are more likely to be satisfied with the judicial process than those who are represented by attorneys. Almost 75% of those who represented themselves in court said they would do it again. Self-representation, when combined with the power of modern information technology can be an important means of providing increased access to the legal system."

Thank you for taking the time to read my request.


Patricia A Vollbrecht
Watchful Eye Investigations LLC
Milwaukie OR 97267-3617