The practice of law by unauthorized persons is a serious issue affecting Utah and beyond. This is particularly true in immigration matters.
The Unauthorized Practice of Law (UPL) Committee investigates UPL complaints against individuals and organizations who are not licensed to practice law.
Also known as an attorney, a lawyer is a person who has attended an ABA-approved law school and is admitted to and actively licensed by the Utah State Bar. A lawyer is the only professional who can help with any legal issue, although most lawyers tend to specialize in particular areas of the law, like divorce, immigration, debts, or criminal law.
A Licensed Paralegal Practitioner (LPP) is a person who is licensed by the Utah State Bar to engage in the limited practice of law—without supervision—in the area or areas of (1) temporary separation, divorce, parentage, cohabitant abuse, civil stalking, custody and support, name or gender change, and petitions to recognize a relationship as a marriage; (2) forcible entry and detainer; and (3) debt collection matters in which the dollar amount in issue does not exceed the statutory limit for small claims cases. An LPP has received specialized training and education prior to being licensed. A paralegal who is not an LPP may not practice law except under the direct supervision of a lawyer. More information is found here: utcourts.gov/legal/lpp/.
Check to see if your lawyer or LPP is licensed by the Utah State Bar by visiting the member directory.
The Wrong Help Can Hurt: See more information
A bankruptcy petition preparer (BPP) means a person, other than an attorney or an employee of an attorney, who prepares for a fee, a document for filing by the debtor in the United States Bankruptcy Court.
A BPP may only type bankruptcy documents and must only charge a reasonable fee. A BPP may not collect, receive, or handle the court fees in connection with a bankruptcy case.
A BPP may not give legal advice like telling a person what type of bankruptcy to file or which debts to list.
A BPP who causes legal or economic injuries for their negligent or fraudulent conduct in a bankruptcy case is liable for damages.
More information is found here: justice.gov/ust-regions-r09/file/petition_prep.pdf/.
The Sandbox is a mechanism by which the Utah Supreme Court permits entities to offer new and innovative ideas, methods, and models of legal practice.
Although not a literal sandbox, the legal regulatory Sandbox creates a limited and controlled space outside of the traditional rules governing legal practice. It is overseen by the Office of Legal Services Innovation, an office created by the Utah Supreme Court to assess, recommend, and monitor entities seeking to try new approaches to legal practice.
Only approved entities are allowed to practice law under Utah Supreme Court Standing Order 15.
You can check to see if the business or person you are interacting with has been approved to operate in the Sandbox here: utahinnovationoffice.org/authorized-entities/.
“Practice of law” means representing the interests of another person by informing, counseling, advising, assisting, advocating for, or drafting documents for that person through applying the law and associated legal principles to that person’s facts and circumstances.
“Law” means the collective body of declarations by governmental authorities that establish a person’s rights, duties, constraints, and freedoms and includes:
(A) constitutional provisions, treaties, statutes, ordinances, rules, regulations, and similarly enacted declarations; and
(B) decisions, orders, and deliberations of adjudicative, legislative, and executive bodies of government that have authority to interpret, prescribe, and determine a person’s rights, duties, constraints, and freedoms.
“The Supreme Court by rule shall govern the practice of law, including admission to practice law and the conduct and discipline of persons admitted to practice law.”
“The persons subject to the disciplinary jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the OPC include…any other person not licensed in Utah who practices law or who renders or offers to render any legal services in Utah.”
“No person who is not licensed to practice law in Utah as an attorney at law or as a foreign legal consultant or licensed paralegal practitioner may practice or assume to act or hold himself or herself out to the public as a person qualified to practice law or to carry on the calling of an attorney at law in Utah or licensed paralegal practitioner. Such practice, or assumption to act or holding out, by any such unlicensed person will not constitute a crime, but this prohibition against the practice of law by any such person will be enforced by such civil action or proceedings, including writ, contempt, or injunctive proceedings, as may be necessary and appropriate, which action or which proceedings the Bar will institute after Board approval.”
“[O]nly persons who are active, licensed members of the Utah State Bar in good standing may engage in the practice of law in Utah.”
Defines the practice of law in paragraph (b).
“(1) Unless otherwise provided by law, a person may not practice law or assume to act or hold himself out to the public as a person qualified to practice law within this state if he: (a) is not admitted and licensed to practice law within this state; (b) has been disbarred or suspended from the practice of law; or (c) is prohibited from doing so by court order entered pursuant to the courts’ inherent powers or published court rule.
(2) The prohibition against the practice of law in Subsection (1) shall be enforced by any civil action or proceedings instituted by the Board of Commissioners of the Utah State Bar.
(3) Nothing in this section shall prohibit a person from personally and fully representing his own interests in a cause to which he is a party in his own right and not as an assignee.”
Rule 5.5 of the Utah Rules of Professional Conduct prohibits a lawyer not licensed to practice in Utah from practicing in this state except in limited circumstances.
The Office of Professional Conduct is responsible for disciplining lawyers who violate Rule 5.5. To make a complaint with OPC about a non-Utah licensed lawyer, please visit OPC’s website here: https://www.opcutah.org/
The Unauthorized Practice of Law (UPL) Committee investigates UPL complaints against individuals and organizations who are not licensed to practice law. The Committee meets monthly to evaluate complaints and report on investigations.
Despite the serious consequences that the unauthorized practice of law can have on innocent victims, the unauthorized practice of law is not a crime in Utah. The Committee itself cannot arrest people or impose monetary sanctions. The Committee also cannot file lawsuits on behalf of complainants.
However, upon recommendation of the Committee, the Board of Bar Commissioners may institute any civil action or proceeding to enforce the prohibition against the unauthorized practice of law.