VIRGINIA UPL OPINION 71


Activities of Business Organizations Which Hire Attorneys.

A general business corporation proposes to locate an attorney in a geographical area where a loan is to be made; instruct the attorney to examine the public records to ascertain any liens that may affect a proposed loan; and then have the attorney report any liens and their assessed value to the business corporation. The business corporation then reports the attorney’s finding to the lender. If the loan is made, the attorney records the deed of trust and serves as trustee. For these services the attorney receives a fixed fee from the business corporation. The committee concludes that the lawyer’s services and the activities of the business corporation do not constitute the unauthorized practice of law.

It is not the unauthorized practice of law for a business organization to hire local attorneys to appear before the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC). The VEC is not a proscribed tribunal, within the definition of UPC 1-1 since Virginia Code §60.1-124.1 authorizes the appearance of a non-lawyer on behalf of another before the VEC. Consequently, the business organization is not involved with the unauthorized practice of law by hiring local attorneys to provide the same services which it is authorized by statute to provide with lay personnel. The committee is concerned over possible misconceptions by the customers of the business organization since the organization may not hire lawyers to perform legal services for its customers except as specifically authorized by the statute. [UPC 6-2, UPC 6-3, UPR, Definition (A)]

Committee Opinion
December 12, 1984
Updated: Aug 28, 2006