News and Information
May 06, 2008

Virginia Supreme Court To Review Unauthorized Practice Of Law Opinion 214

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 214, Non-Lawyer Representation, for Compensation, of a Party to Arbitration, 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 214

This opinion generally addresses whether it is the unauthorized practice of law for a non-lawyer Certified Public Accountant (“CPA”) to represent a claimant in an arbitration proceeding before the National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc. (“NASD”) against the Claimant’s former brokerage firm and former stock broker. The CPA is not a licensed attorney in any jurisdiction and is not, and never has been an employee of the claimant.

In this proposed opinion, the UPL Committee concluded that the CPA is not a licensed attorney in any jurisdiction, nor is or has he ever been an employee of the Claimant. He is independently offering to provide to customers from the public, services related to arbitration, including representation, and charging a fee for those services and representation. Among the services he is providing are counseling the client regarding potential legal claims against the brokerage company, drafting a statement of claim, drafting discovery requests and then representation at the hearing where he will introduce exhibits, conduct examination of witnesses, including expert witnesses, objecting to exhibits and making legal argument. Based on the Definition of the Practice of Law in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Part 6, §I of the Rules of the Virginia Supreme Court and the decisions of the UPL Committee in UPL Opinions 92, 200, and 206, the conduct of this CPA is 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.

 

Updated: Jul 23, 2008