Georgia Sux by the way…
Ok, the unauthorized practice of law in Georgia. I recently, was contacted by the State of Georgia Bar. Apparently, after being paid for research of an issue, a lady filed a Quiet Title action in Walton County, Georgia.
Being that she filed the action, Pro Se, they had her fill out a form. On the form, it asked if anyone had assisted her. She put my name, business name, telephone number, and address on the form. She did not really think much about it.
A few days later, she received a call from the State of Georgia Bar. An investigator questioned her about my assistance. She told the man the truth. She had paid me for research. As soon as the man hung up from talking to her, he called my house.
When I talked with this man, he explained to me that when the lady filled out the form, and put my name, address, etc on the form, and the Walton County Superior Court Clerk read the form, she showed it to the Judge. The Clerk was instructed to turn me into the Bar, for unauthorized practice of law. I explained to this investigator, that I had been contacted by a lady, who is a Captain in the Army, has a PhD, and is centralized over at CDC, she told me that she needed some research. I performed the required research, gave her the research material, collected my pay for the research, and we parted ways. What the lady did with the research, I don’t know, it was not my concern. She did not have a lawsuit when I talked with her, and if she filed one afterward, it had nothing to do with me.
This investigator dude, explained to me what unauthorized practice of law is. Like ddduuuuhhhh! Unauthorized practice of law, can be anything that the State Bar says it is. That is basically what it is. If you give any legal advice, if you prepare documents that are to be filed into a Court by any person, and on, and on, and on. Of course there is also, claiming to be an attorney when you aren’t. I told the investigator dude, that I had done nothing of the kind, that research is research, and I do research on subjects having nothing to do with law, but yes, I can and do, legal research as well. Then he told me that he is not an attorney, he is a Georgia Bar investigator. The investigator went on to explain the Georgia laws on unauthorized practice of law.
The investigator dude further advised that the company name that I was using “ProLegal Svcs”, gives the appearance of being a law firm. Hell, I have done a search on that term, spelled exactly the same way, and there are hundreds of companies all across the country using that same name, some have nothing at all to do with the law. He tells me though, that I am not allowed to use that name any longer. Hell, I wish he had told me that prior to my buying the domain name. Nevertheless, he gave me all kinds of legal advice.
Ok, so this investigator, who specified that he is not an attorney, called me up to invesitgate and was doing the very things he accused me of, and he called it unauthorized practice of law. What is wrong with this picture? He can do it, because he is an investigator for the Georgia Bar, but he can investigate me, because some Superior Court clerk that had no idea of what she was talking about, accused me of uanauthorized practice of law.
So the investigator dude, said that he believed that what I was telling him was the truth, that it was the exact same story that the lady who filled out the form had told him. He further told me that I can no longer use the name ProLegal Svcs. He advised that any name I choose, cannot have “legal services” anywhere in the name, because that means I am a lawfirm. He also said that he was going to mail out to me the Georgia codes on unauthorized practice of law, some cases on the subject, and an Affidavit stating that I understand what the Georgia Law states about unauthorized practice of law, and that I understand that the first charge is a misdemeanor. Ok, fine.
The following day, the mail lady pulled into the driveway and blew the horn. James ran out and retrieved the package. He was giving me that “what did you order now?” look. Hell, I hadn’t ordered anything that was going to be delivered that day. We opened it up, and it is a large 3 ring notebook, like the kind you used in high school, those three big ring binder notebooks, that you snap open and add papers onto the rings. It was crammed full of cases where GA Bar has prosecuted the hell out of people for unauthorized practice of law.
One biggie about that, is that the people prosecuted, had all broken numerous other laws as well. I mean there were drug dealers, theives, car theives, rapists, people pretending to be judges, and running a court room, disbarred attorneys claiming to still be an attorney, all kinds of criminals. Hell, I hadn’t done any of those things. I don’t think one case, was an innocent person who had been paid for research. Then, I read the Affidavit that I was instructed to sign in front of a Notary, and the notary sign and seal the document, and I was to mail it back to the investigator dude at the Bar. The problem is, in that affidavit I admit to guilt for something that I didn’t do. They have me, under Oath, in front of a Notary, swearing that I broke Georgia Law, when in truth and fact, I didn’t.
So, there are two attorneys that I work with off and on. I sent it separately to both attorneys. The first attorney to respond, only said “Looks like a witch hunt to me”.
The second attorney said, “they are full of shit, they want you to admit guilt of a felony, I would not send it back to them”. I questioned what would happen if I failed to send it back, and his attitude is that if I let them walk all over me now, when I have done nothing wrong, the witch hunt for this ole girl won’t end. They will keep on me, until they can manage to come up with more violations, and added to the signed and notarized document where I have already admitted guilt, will give them grounds to put me in jail.
Sounds like good advice, from one of my attorneys to me. A few weeks later, the first attorney emailed, and asked what happen with the Bar. I told him that I decided not to send it back. He told me that he was glad, that they were just on a witch hunt. Since that time, the second attoney, the one that said not to send it back, has needed some assistance, and being a virtual freelance legal assistant/paralegal, I was there to assist him.
YALL BE CAREFUL OUT THERE, THEY ARE LURKING JUST AROUND THE CORNER!
Soon, I will post the Georgia laws on unauthorized practice of law. I want to download them from WestLawNext first. 🙂