Standing Committee on Unauthorized Practice of Law

Sharon D. Nelson, chair


The Standing Committee on Unauthorized Practice of Law is charged with two duties: Investigating complaints alleging that individuals or business entities are engaged in the unauthorized practice of law; and issuing opinions as to whether specific conduct constitutes the unauthorized practice of law.

This fiscal year, 52 UPL investigations were opened and of these new complaints, thirty-one have been closed with six resulting in a signed letter agreement. Of these new complaints, one has been referred to the Office of the Attorney General for civil prosecution or to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and two have been referred to commonwealth’s attorneys for criminal prosecution.

A total of forty investigations were carried over from prior fiscal years. Of these, thirty-nine were closed. There were seven referrals to the Office of the Attorney General and none were referred to a commonwealth attorney for prosecution.

During this year, assistant ethics counsel also reviewed and answered thirty complaints in which counsel determined that, based on the information provided, there was no unauthorized practice of law in Virginia warranting a formal investigation by the committee.

The committee received no new opinion requests in Fiscal Year 2012.

I would like to thank the committee members — Vice Chair Christine L. Poarch, Robert R. Bock, Wells Huntington Byrnes Sr., Adam D. Elfenbein, William J. Viverette, Nancy Rodrigues, Sharon Marcella Bolling Pigeon  and Sean C. Workowski for their hard work and dedication to the mission of the committee during the past year.

Updated: Aug 09, 2012