Unauthorized Practice of Law
In order to complete this assignment we must first recognize what Unauthorized Practice of Law is when it comes to paralegals - Unauthorized Practice of Law introduction. There is no set definition on what UPL is but as a paralegal there are guidelines to go by. Some ways they can violate the practice of law would be an individual holding themselves as an attorney when they are paralegals, giving legal advice as an attorney would, or representing clients in a court of law. All of the previous are violations and can be subject to several disciplinary actions [ (Unauthorized Practice of Law, 2010) ]. It has been named illegal due to the damages on may suffer due to bad legal advice.
In some states it is considered a criminal offense and could be given a jail sentence. With that in mind let us discuss the questions at hand. Polly is a paralegal having two individuals asking about divorce when it comes to adultery. Each individual has separate questions asked at different times. Polly has to be sure she doesn’t give legal advice to engage in the unauthorized practice of law. Polly has a legal duty to uphold when it comes to discussing any legal questions or matters, even if it is for friends and family. She knows as a paralegal she cannot give any legal advice to either one of the individuals.
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So, let’s look at the questions that where asked. Mr. Smith’s question is as follows: “Do the grounds for divorce in North Carolina include adultery”? Now depending on how Polly answers this she should not have to worry about UPL. If she provides basic information that would be able to be found on the internet or other sources, she should be fine [ (UPL pamphlet) ]. If she wants to engage in this conversation with Mr. Smith should first state that she is only a paralegal and by law she cannot give any legal advice. She can direct him where to look for the information to further his knowledge on the matter.
Doing any of these actions does not engage in the unauthorized practice of law. Our second question is from Mrs. Smith. After she found out that her husband has committed adultery. She wants to know is she has grounds for divorce. Now this one is a bit trickier than the other. To give proper advice would be giving legal advice. Mrs. Smith would have to know the ins and outs of divorce when it comes to adultery and Polly legally cannot supply the answer. Once again, Polly has the responsibility to let Mrs. Smith know that she is not a lawyer and she can’t give any legal advice.
Information that involves the grounds for any law suit of any matter is considered legal advice. Although Mrs. Smith may feel that a simple yes or no will not hurt Polly, it will. One thing Polly can do that is not UPL is to advise Mrs. Smith to seek legal representation [ (Orlik, 2007) ]. This action can save Polly a lot of hassles and the chance of getting disciplined. Now the reasoning behind prohibiting the unauthorized practice of law is not to hurt lawyers and anyone legally practicing law. These were put into place to help from personally damaging cases and individuals alike.
What if you were given advice and used it to help with your case. Then come to find out that this advice or information was not at all correct and cost you your case. You would be very adamant to return to the individual to find out what had happened. Then you also find out that this person was not legally able to practice law in any manner. You would be furious and would want this person to pay for his/her actions. This is an example of why it is very important why someone that is not authorized to give legal advice should not do it. It is ethically and morally wrong and one should pay for his/her actions.