Non-lawyer Providing Contract Procurement, Financing, Sales and Marketing Services to Inventor and Patent Counsel.

A Virginia lawyer inquired as to whether a non-lawyer, who had previously been admitted to practice in Virginia but who had allowed his membership to lapse, would be engaged in the unauthorized practice of law by the provision of services to an Inventor. Such services would include the procurement of contracts and financing, assistance in the formation of the business, development of sales and marketing plans, and serving as liaison between the Inventor and his outside patent counsel. The inquiry indicated, however, that despite the enumeration of services to be provided, the non-lawyer actually provided only those services related to the procurement of contracts and financing related to the Inventor’s business.

The committee opined that the enumerated activities did not constitute the unauthorized practice of law. The Committee cautioned, however, that the non-lawyer’s description, as part of the marketing agreement, as having been admitted to practice in Virginia would be construed as “hold[ing] himself out as authorized or qualified to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia.??? Such holding out would be impermissible and violative of both Part Six, Section I, ¶A of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia [Unauthorized Practice Rules: Practice of Law in the Commonwealth of Virginia] and §54.1-3904 of the Code of Virginia. In addition, the committee cautioned that it would constitute the unauthorized practice of law for the non-lawyer to render advice to the Inventor as to whether or not to incorporate, to prepare articles of incorporation and by-laws, or to issue stock certificates. See UPL Op. 67.

Committee Opinion
July 2, 1991


Updated: Aug 28, 2006