Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia Part 6, § I
PROHIBITION AGAINST UNAUTHORIZED PRACTICE OF LAW: No non-lawyer shall engage in the practice of law in the Commonwealth of Virginia or in any manner hold himself or herself out as authorized or qualified to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia except as may be authorized by rule or statute. The term “non-lawyer” means any person, firm, association or corporation not duly licensed or authorized to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Any person or entity who practices law without being licensed or otherwise authorized to practice law shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Va. Code § 54.1-3904.
Read the full rule.
The full text of UPL Opinions can be found at UPL Opinions and can be searched by a topical index.
UPL Opinions are also published in two separate unnumbered volumes of the Michie Code of Virginia (1991 and 1996 added volumes) and are supplemented annually with a pocket part. In addition, the opinions are published as they are issued in the Virginia Lawyer Register. The Geronimo Case Finder and Michie's Law on Disk also include the UPL Opinions in their CD-ROM libraries. The Virginia UPL Opinions are included in WestLaw's database. All information identifying the requesting party is redacted prior to publication and such information is kept confidential.
UPL Library Proposed UPLs
A member of the bar may request a UPL Opinion by completing the "UPL Opinion Request Form," which is available for download below, or by contacting Kristi Hall at (804) 775-0557 or [email protected] and arranging to have the form faxed or emailed.
Unauthorized Practice of Law Opinion Request Form
Ethics counsel screen incoming complaints and open files for investigation if there is probable cause to believe that a nonlawyer is engaging in UPL. Investigations are assigned to the same professional investigators who investigate disciplinary complaints against attorneys. Ethics counsel make recommendations for the disposition of UPL complaints based upon information obtained during the investigation, including the investigators' written reports. Ethics counsel may dismiss the complaint if there is insufficient evidence of UPL or may recommend (a) dismissing the complaint with a letter of caution; (b) issuing a letter agreement in which the Respondent agrees to cease the activity challenged as UPL; or (c) referring the investigation to the attorney general, a commonwealth’s attorney, or other appropriate agency for action. The clerk of the Disciplinary System conducts an independent review of the investigation results and ethics counsel’s recommendations. The clerk may veto or modify the recommendations. The clerk’s decisions shall be final, and not subject to review by ethics counsel.
An Unauthorized Practice of Law Complaint can be submitted by completing the "Complaint of the Unauthorized Practice of Law" form, which is available for download below, or by contacting Kristi Hall at (804) 775-0557 or [email protected] and arranging to have the form faxed or emailed.
Unauthorized Practice of Law Complaint Form
“Notarios” are unauthorized legal consultants who typically charge exorbitant fees for immigration services they never provide. By the time the victim discovers that the notary has defrauded him or her, the case is already harmed and it is often too late to repair the damage. As a result of this unauthorized assistance, the immigrant may even lose the opportunity to apply for immigration relief.
In response to the “notario” problem, the Virginia State Bar, through its former Standing Committee on Unauthorized Practice of Law, proposed an extensive education initiative directed at the communities most affected by this type of fraud. The goal is to provide immigrants throughout Virginia with the information necessary for selecting an authorized immigration representative and/or lawyer, thereby decreasing the number of immigrants who fall victim to this type of unauthorized practice of law.
For more information on the Virginia State Bar’s education initiative, please see the Immigration Fraud web page.