Unauthorized Practice of Law

Christine Lockhart Poarch, chair

The Standing Committee on Unauthorized Practice of Law is charged with two duties: 1) it investigates complaints alleging that individuals or business entities are engaged in the unauthorized practice of law; and 2) it issues opinions as to whether specific conduct constitutes the unauthorized practice of law.

This fiscal year, thirty-nine new UPL investigations were opened and of these new complaints, sixteen have been closed with six resulting in a signed letter agreement. Of these new complaints, none have been referred to the Office of the Attorney General for civil prosecution or to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and six have been referred to commonwealth’s attorneys for criminal prosecution.

A total of eighteen investigations were carried over from prior fiscal years. Of these, fourteen were closed with four resulting in a signed letter agreement.  There were four referrals to the Office of the Attorney General and three were referred to a commonwealth attorney for prosecution.

During this year, assistant ethics counsel also reviewed and answered thirty-four complaints in which counsel determined that, based on the information provided, there was no unauthorized practice of law in Virginia warranting a formal investigation by the committee. 

The Committee received one new opinion request in fiscal year 2014. 

I would like to thank the committee members — Vice Chair Adam David Elfenbein, Robert R. Bock, Roger Craig Hurwitz, William J. Viverette, Nancy Rodrigues, Elliott P. Park, Susan M. Butler, and Guy C. Crowgey for their hard work and dedication to the mission of the committee during the past year.

Updated: Aug 18, 2014