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Home > Actions on Rule Changes and Legal Ethics Opinions > revisions to Part 6, §I of the Rules of the Supreme Court of VA on the unauthorized practice of law.

Adopted | revisions to Part 6, §I of the Rules of the Supreme Court of VA on the unauthorized practice of law. Approved by the Supreme Court of Virginia April 26, 2019. Effective July 1, 2019.

On April 26, 2019, the Supreme Court of Virginia approved the rewrite of the Unauthorized Practice of Law Rules and amended Section I. Effective July 1, 2019.

View the Supreme Court order (pdf)
 


March 6, 2019:

At its meeting on February 23, 2019, Virginia State Bar Council approved by unanimous vote the proposed rewrite of the Unauthorized Practice of Law Rules. Prior to approval, Council unanimously approved amending the proposed amendments in two regards: (1) Paragraph 3.A. Exceptions, was amended by the addition at the end of the paragraph to include non-lawyers or paralegals employed by legal aid societies; and (2) Paragraph 5.D, Comments, was amended to correct the reference to Paragraph 3(Q) to Paragraph 3(R). The proposed rule changes has been presented to the Supreme Court of Virginia for approval.

view the petition to the Supreme Court of Virginia (PDF)

 


 

October 18, 2018:

Pursuant to Part 6, § IV, ¶ 10-2(C) of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, the Virginia State Bar’s Standing Committee on Legal Ethics (“Committee”) seeks public comment on proposed revisions to Part 6, §I of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, The Practice of Law in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Unauthorized Practice of Law.

Following a year-long review by a Virginia State Bar Study Committee to Revise the Unauthorized Practice of Law Rules (“the Study Committee”), the Study Committee recommended revisions to the definition of the practice of law and the deletion of Unauthorized Practice of Law Rules 1-9 with replacement by an entirely different format. The Study Committee reviewed the existing definition of the practice of law and the nine existing individual UPL rules. It reviewed other jurisdictions’ UPL definitions and rules and reviewed state and federal law that create exceptions to the UPL Rules for certain activities performed by non-lawyers. The Study Committee determined that a better format was necessary, including a general definition of the practice of law followed by sections describing exceptions to and exclusions from that definition and finally comments and annotations explaining and providing examples of these exceptions and exclusions. Some content from the existing rules was included in the proposed revisions. All of the revisions include conduct or activity that has been and continues to be the subject of UPL complaints and the current rules and UPL Opinions.       

The proposed definition more succinctly and clearly sets out the general prohibition against the unauthorized practice of law, a definition of the practice of law, exceptions (i.e., activity that is the practice of law but which nonlawyers and foreign lawyers may perform), exclusions (i.e., activity that is not considered the practice of law), commentary, and annotations.

At its May 16, 2018 meeting, the Standing Committee on Legal Ethics unanimously approved the Study Committee’s proposal anddetermined that it addresses regulation of unauthorized practice of law in Virginia more comprehensively, clearly and concisely than the existing definition and rules.    

At its meeting on August 1, 2018, the Standing Committee on Legal Ethics considered the comments received and approved the proposed rule, as amended in light of certain comments, for consideration by Council at the February 23, 2019 meeting.

See the proposed rule here (pdf)

The proposed rule may also be inspected at the office of the Virginia State Bar, 1111 East Main Street, Suite 700, Richmond, Virginia 23219-0026, between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Copies of the proposed rule revisions can be obtained from the offices of the Virginia State Bar by contacting the Office of Ethics Counsel at 804-775-0557.

Updated: April 29, 2019