To practice law in North Carolina, “One must graduate from an accredited law school and be admitted to the bar through the bar exam or county, which means that one state allows another state’s attorney if the attorney has practiced law a certain number of years,” said Wanda Copley, New Hanover County attorney.
Paralegals can perform some legal work such as title searches under the supervision of an attorney, Copley said.
R. Lynn Coleman, Wilmington assistant city attorney, said there is no precise definition of the practice of law in state statutes or case law.
However, Coleman said, two North Carolina statutes provide examples of the activities that constitute the practice of law.
According to the N.C. Bar Association, only active members of the North Carolina State Bar may engage in the practice of law in North Carolina.
“Any person other than an active member of the North Carolina State Bar who engages in the practice of law for another commits the unauthorized practice of law in violation of Chapter 84 of the North Carolina General Statutes, unless the acts are performed under the direction and active supervision of a licensed North Carolina attorney. It is a class 1 criminal misdemeanor to engage in the unauthorized practice of law,” according to the bar association website.
A non-lawyer may represent himself on any legal matter.
“A person commits the unauthorized practice of law only by performing acts constituting the practice of law for another person or entity,” according to the state bar.
Information included in the “FAQ” section of the state bar website states that the state bar “has the authority by statute to investigate allegations of unauthorized practice of law, as well as the district attorney.”
The state bar may seek injunctive relief, and district attorneys can prosecute charges of unauthorized practice of law as a class 1 criminal misdemeanor.
The Authorized Practice Committee of the North Carolina State Bar investigates complaints of unauthorized practice of law. To discuss matters relating to the unauthorized practice of law, contact David Johnson at the N. C. State Bar at (919) 828-4620.
Date posted: December 2, 2010
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