The practice of law is limited to those who have meet their state’s requirements of education, moral character, and understanding of the law. They then become licensed to practice law, one who does not hold this licence and practices law is committing UPL. UPL is the unauthorized practice of law anyone who practices law without a licence may be held to their states disciplinary procedures. Injunction, criminal prosecution, citations for contempt of court and writs of quo warranto are some of the actions states take for those who commit UPL.
Paralegals or legal assistants are “a distinguishable group of persons who assist attorneys in the delivery of legal services”. They are not licensed to practice law.
In the scenario giving, Polly Paralegals response is the only thing that can determine if she has committed UPL. If Polly Paralegal responds to Mr. Smiths question by stating “Yes, Mr. Smith in the state of North Carolina adultery has grounds for a divorce.
”, then yes Polly is committing UPL. Polly would be using her knowledge in the legal field to answer Mr. Smith’s question. If on the other hand, Polly tells Mr. Smith that she is not able to give him an answer to his question, he should seek an attorneys advice then no she is not committing UPL. Polly would not be giving any legal advice to Mr. Smith therefore, there is no practice of law taking place.
The same situation will apply to Polly with Mrs. Smiths question. Depending on how Polly Paralegal answers the question will determine if she commits UPL or not. Due to the fact that Polly knows both Mr. and Mrs. Smith and is considered a friend to them, the likelihood of her committing UPL is much higher. Not knowing how Polly Paralegal responds to Mr. and Mrs. Smiths questions there is no way to determine if she has or will commit UPL. When Polly Paralegal decided to become a paralegal she agreed to abide by a set of rules and guidelines that her state set for paralegals. Doing so gives her knowledge of how she should respond to Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Polly is aware of her options as a paralegal and a friend.
In conclusion, there is no way to determine if Polly did or did not in fact commit UPL. The scenario giving gives too little detail of the conversations between Polly and Mr. Smith as well as Polly and Mrs. Smith. If Polly decides to give the answer Mr. and Mrs. Smith are looking for she knows she will be violating ethics and could lose her job. Polly has not yet given the Smiths an answer therefore she has not yet committed UPL. With further knowledge of Pollys response then one can determine if she chose to or not to commit UPL.
National Federation of Paralegal Associations, Inc. (2006). Retrieved November 12, 2014, from http://chromeextension://ecnphlgnajanjnkcmbpancdjoidceilk/www.paralegals.org
USLegal. (2011). Paralegal Law & Legal Definition. Retrieved from http://definitions.uslegal.com/p/paralegal/