VIRGINIA UPL OPINION 147
Paralegal Company Providing Support Services to Attorney's Conducting Real Estate Closings.
It is not the unauthorized practice of law for a real estate paralegal company [“Company???] to provide assistance to an attorney in closing real estate loans which have been referred to the paralegal company by that attorney [“Closing Attorney???] using the following procedure:
1. Closing Attorney receives sales contract from real estate agents; reviews contract; opens file; determines which items can be accomplished by Company (e.g. survey, title insurance, private pay-off information); contracts real estate agent; and forwards file to Company for processing.
2. Company receives Closing Attorney’s file; requests title search; orders survey; notifies lending institution; and receives package from lending institution unless lending institution sends package directly to closing Attorney who forwards package to Company.
3. Company completes non-legal documents (e.g. tax information, name affidavit, W-9 forms, commitment letter, HUD-1 statement); contacts client to determine name of hazard insurance company.
4. Company forwards note and deed of trust requests to Closing Attorney; if lending institution has completed documents, Company provides those to Closing Attorney for review prior to closing.
5. Company receives survey and forwards to title insurance company. Upon receipt of title binder, same if forwarded by Company to seller’s Attorney for completion of deed and seller’s documents. Deed and seller’s documents are reviewed by Closing Attorney and lender prior to closing.
6. Completed approved package carried by Company to Closing Attorney for review prior to meeting with clients. Single charge for closing is made and shown on “title examination??? line of HUD-1 statement. [See also Legal Ethics Opinion No. 1220.]
7. Clients meet with Closing Attorney to sign all required documents; package is returned to Company with any changes to be made noted by Closing Attorney; documents requiring recordation are recorded by Company with instructions from Closing Attorney; Company does not record until Closing Attorney determines procedure once any encumbrance is disclosed.
8. Following recording, Company assembles various executed documents and certified copies of documents required by lender and delivers same to lender within required time.
9. Company writes disbursement checks out of Closing Attorney’s escrow account upon request (Company has no signatory power over Closing Attorney’s account); Closing Attorney reviews and signs checks to be disbursed.10. Upon receipt, Attorney transmits recorded instruments to Company which prepares cover letter for Closing Attorney’s review and signature before forwarding to appropriate individual/institution.
April 19, 1991
Updated: Aug 28, 2006