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What to know about the unauthorized practice of law

On Behalf of | Jun 3, 2021 | Administrative Law |

Showing that you have good character is part of passing the state bar exam. The California State Bar website lists many types of conduct that would cause you to lose the character test. One of these transgressions is practicing law when you have no license to do so. 

Receiving a license to practice law means you have acquired the qualifications to make you a reliable legal counsel. Unlicensed law practitioners put their clients at risk of receiving bad information. So you may wonder what would qualify as practicing law without authorization. 

Definitions from the state bar

According to the state bar, you could practice law without authorization if you made a court appearance on behalf of someone as a legal representative even though you have no license or credentials that bestow the ability to practice law in California. Even if you do not appear in court as legal counsel, you could also run into trouble by presenting yourself to the public as someone who can practice law. 

Unauthorized law practice extends to other activities attached to legal representatives. These would include providing legal advice to another person without a law license or preparing a legal contract or other legal instrument. 

Possible exceptions

If you wonder if you have violated these standards at some point, keep in mind that it depends on the circumstances. The American Bar Association explains that there are certain professions that require knowledge of the law. For instance, if you had worked as a claims adjuster or an employee of a financial institution, you likely needed legal advice to perform your duties. 

Additionally, you may have done some duties as a paraprofessional. Your job may have required some law-related activities authorized by the jurisdiction in which you serve. These situations should not run afoul of state bar standards, though cases will vary from individual to individual. 


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