Practice of Law Board
The Practice of Law Board investigates complaints about the unauthorized practice of law.
The Practice of Law Board was created by the Washington State Supreme Court in 2001 to investigate unauthorized practice of law complaints, issue advisory opinions, and recommend to the Supreme Court ways nonlawyers can improve access to law-related services. The Board has 13 members appointed by the Supreme Court. At least four board members must be non lawyers. The Practice of Law Board investigates complaints about the unauthorized practice of law. These complaints include nonlawyers advertising legal services, nonlawyers pretending to be lawyers, unsupervised paralegals offering legal services, and out-of-state lawyers representing Washington residents when not authorized. The Board received many written, phone, and email inquiries about what law-related services nonlawyers and out-of-state lawyers can perform. If you would like to file a complaint, please visit our unauthorized practice of law page. This page also contains links to people and businesses the board has found to be engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.
As a general rule, out-of-state lawyers cannot represent Washington clients in mortgage modification actions. A Washington client is a person who owns real property located in Washington. Make certain the person you are working with is authorized to assist you before you send money. Here is an explanation of who can and cannot complete mortgage modifications in Washington. If you are a Washington homeowner facing foreclosure, WSBA's Home Foreclosure Legal Aid Program may be able to assist you. The Consumer Protection Division of the Washington State Attorney General's Office also investigates problems with mortgage modification services.
Quéjese si un Notario le Defraudó!
The Board also receives questions about notarios. In other countries, notarios may be lawyers with additional training in a specific area. In the United State, notarios are not lawyers and cannot provide any type of legal services, including immigration assistance. Fraudulent notarios use the confusion about this title to take money from people. The American Bar Association is working to combat this fraud. The Washington State Attorney General is also working on this issue. See the related press release. The Practice of Law Board investigates unauthorized practice of law involving notarios and immigration law.
In Washington, paralegals can generally work only under the supervision of a lawyer. Unsupervised paralegals can generally perform the same tasks as other nonlawyers. Anyone can sell legal forms and make general statements about the law. Only lawyers can choose, draft or complete legal forms, or advise you about legal forms. Paralegals sometimes advertise unauthorized services on Craigslist, websites, or in newspapers or yellow pages ads. These unauthorized services may also register with the Better Business Bureau. Recently, prosecutors in Pierce and King county have successfully prosecuted unsupervised paralegals for engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.
The Board issues advisory opinions about what law related services nonlawyers can perform. If you would like to request an advisory opinion, or view the opinions the boar has issued, please visit our advisory opinion page. The Board will also post new opinions on this page when public input is requested.
Next Meeting: March 14, 2014, 9:30 a.m.–3 p.m. at the WSBA offices.
Public Session: March 14, 2014 Meeting Materials
Executive Session: March 14, 2014 Meeting Materials (password protected)
Public minutes will be posted here as approved by the Board.
Chair: Scott A. Smith
Staff Liaison: Julie Shankland
Rule Creating the Board
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