Unauthorized Practice of Law

Adam David Elfenbein, Chair

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

In this fiscal year, twenty-four (24) new UPL investigations were opened and of these new complaints, two (2) have been closed. Of these new complaints, none (0) have been referred to the Office of the Attorney General for civil prosecution or to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and none (0) have been referred to a commonwealth’s attorney for criminal prosecution.

A total of twenty-five (25) investigations were carried over from prior fiscal years. Of these, ten (10) were closed with none (0) resulting in signed letter agreements.  There were two (2) referrals to the Office of the Attorney General.  There was one (1) referral to a commonwealth attorney for prosecution, and no (0) referrals were made to the United States Attorney’s office.

During this year, Assistant Ethics Counsel also reviewed thirty-one (31) complaints, twenty-six (26) of which were determined by counsel, based on the information provided, not to be the unauthorized practice of law in Virginia warranting a formal investigation by the Committee. 

Throughout this year, the VSB consulted with the Office of the Attorney General on the U.S. Supreme Court decision in N.C. Dental Board Examiners v. FTC, 135 S. Ct. 1101 (2015) and its ramifications on the actions of the Standing Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law.  By order of the Supreme Court of Virginia, the committee was sunsetted and the procedures for investigating UPL complaints were amended so that bar staff will conduct UPL investigations and refer matters requiring enforcement to the Office of the Attorney General or a Commonwealth’s Attorney.

I would like to thank the Committee members, Liaisons and Staff — Guy Cameron Crowgey, Roger Craig Hurwitz,  David Brant Neumeyer, Nancy Rodrigues, Elliott P. Park, Susan M. Butler, Levar Stoney, Lee Hendricks Turpin, James M. McCauley, Barbara B. Saunders and Kristi R. Hall for their hard work and dedication to the mission of the Committee during the past year and in all the years they have served this Committee.

Updated: Aug 03, 2016