News and Information
May 06, 2008

Virginia Supreme Court To Review Unauthorized Practice Of Law Opinion 213

Pursuant to Part Six: Section IV, Paragraph 10(g) of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, the Virginia Supreme Court is expected to consider for approval, disapproval, or modification, UPL Opinion 213, Attorney on Associate Status Representing Multiple Ownership Interests in Negotiation and Drafting of Easement, that was proposed by the Standing Committee on Unauthorized Practice of Law and approved by the Council of the Virginia State Bar on June 19, 2008.

UPL Opinion 213

This proposed opinion generally addresses whether a retired member of the Virginia State Bar who is on Associate membership status and who owns an undivided interest in a tract of land can verify the ownership of other undivided interests, negotiate and prepare an easement deed acting, not only for himself, but on behalf of the entirety, representing all interests, and reimburse expenses out of the sale of tax credits.

Pursuant to UPR 6-103 (A)(1)1, a non-lawyer can act for him/herself pro se and draft legal instruments related to a real estate transaction as long as he/she is the owner of the property or a party to the transaction involving the property but he/she cannot act for anyone else. The language “affecting his property” in UPC 6-5 would allow the landowner to draft a legal instrument (such as an easement) which affects the piece of property he actually owns and to represent himself and his own interests in such a transaction but it does not authorize a non-lawyer to act on behalf of another landowner and affecting another landowner’s property, even if the various pieces of property are all part of a whole. This language cannot be construed to broaden the scope of what a non-lawyer can do for another. This would be inconsistent with Rule 6 itself as well as with the Definition of the Practice of Law generally and would be considered the unauthorized practice of law.

Inspection and Comment

The opinion may be inspected at the office of the Virginia State Bar, 707 East Main Street, Suite 1500, Richmond, Virginia 23219-2800, between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Copies of the opinion can be obtained from the offices of the Virginia State Bar by contacting the Office of Ethics Counsel at 804-775-0557, or can be found at the Virginia State Bar’s Web Page at http://www.vsb.org.Any individual, business or other entity may file or submit written comments in support of, or in opposition to, the opinion by filing nine copies with the Clerk of the Court and three copies with Karen A. Gould, the Executive Director of the Virginia State Bar, not later than August 21, 2008.

 

1 See Unauthorized Practice Rule 6, Part 6, §I, Rules of Supreme Court of Virginia.

Updated: Jul 23, 2008