Unauthorized Practice of Immigration Law (UPIL): A State-by-State Overview of Legal Mechanisms | CLINIC

Unauthorized Practice of Immigration Law (UPIL): A State-by-State Overview of Legal Mechanisms




What Is This

The “Unauthorized Practice of Immigration Law (UPIL): A State-by-State Overview of Legal Mechanisms to Combat these Deceptive Practices” resource is intended for immigration attorneys, recognized and accredited representative, and community-based organizations assisting noncitizen clients who have been victims of unauthorized practice of immigration law. Unauthorized practitioners of immigration law are often referred to as “notarios,” which is notary public in Spanish, or immigration “consultants.” These individuals can delay immigration matters, at best, and pose a threat to the ability of a noncitizen to successfully qualify for immigration benefits, at worst. Victims of unauthorized practice of immigration law also face indescribable loss, including dashed hopes for legal status in the United States, depletion of limited financial resources, and possibly deportation from the United States.


Who We Are

The “Unauthorized Practice of Immigration Law (UPIL): A State-by-State Overview of Legal Mechanisms to Combat these Deceptive Practice” resource is the product of two organizations: the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC).

To filter the list below to a specific state, choose it here.

ALABAMA

 

UPL Statute Summary

Alabama Code 1975 § 34-3-1. Unlawful Practice of Law

If any person shall, without having become duly licensed to practice, or whose license to practice shall have expired either by disbarment, failure to pay his license fee within 30 days after the day it becomes due, or otherwise, practice or assume to act or hold himself out to the public as a person qualified to practice or carry on the calling of a lawyer, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and fined not to exceed $500.00, or be imprisoned for a period not to exceed six months, or both.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL

Victims may contact the Consumer Affairs Section of the Office of Attorney General.  You may file a complaint here or mail it to:

Office of Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange
Consumer Protection Section
P.O. Box 300152
Montgomery, AL 36130

Liability may be found under the Alabama Deceptive Trade Practices Act, accessible here.

The Alabama State Bar also has a UPL Committee which receives, reviews, investigates, and acts on complaints alleging the unauthorized practice of law by individuals or entities not licensed to practice law in the State of Alabama, and assists in educating attorneys, judges, and the public regarding unauthorized practice of law issues. You may contact them here.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

Ineffective assistance of counsel can be reported to the Alabama State Bar here (information available in English and Spanish).

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Office of Attorney General:

Office of Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange
Consumer Protection Section
P.O. Box 300152
Montgomery, AL 36130
Hotline: 1-800-392-5658
Tel: 334-242-7335
Fax: 334-242-2433

Alabama State Bar Association:

415 Dexter Avenue
Montgomery, AL 36104
Tel: (334) 269-1515
Toll Free: (800) 354-6154
Fax: (334) 261-6310

Notary Public Information:

Contact your local probate judge.  Contact information is accessible here.

 

Becoming a Notary Public

  • Must be 18 years of age and resident of Alabama
  • Must obtain a $10,000 notary bond
  • Must apply to the probate judge for your county.  Contact information can be accessed here.

The Secretary of State has a search tool of recently issued commissions or to locate any current Alabama notary, which can be accessed here.

ALASKA

 

UPL Statute Summary

Alaska Statute 08.08.230. Unlawful Practice a Misdemeanor.

  1. A person now an active member of the Alaska Bar and not licensed to practice law in Alaska who engages in the practice of law or holds out as entitled to engage in the practice of law as that term is defined in the Alaska Bar Rules, or an active member of the Alaska Bar who willfully employs such a person knowing that the person is engaging in the practice of law or holding out as entitled to so engage is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.
  2. This section does not prohibit the use of paralegal personnel as defined by rules of the Alaska supreme court.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL

Liability could be found under the Alaska Consumer Protection Act, accessible here.

Complaints under this Act would need to be filed with the Attorney General.  The complaint form as well as a description of the process can be accessed here.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

Ineffective assistance of counsel can be reported to the Alaska State Bar here.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Attorney General:

Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth
1031 West 4th Avenue, Suite 200
Anchorage, AK 99501
Tel: 907-269-5100
Fax: 907-276-3697
Email: attorney.general@alaska.gov

Notary Public Information:

Notary Public Office

Office of the Lieutenant Governor

PO Box 110001

Juneau, AK 99811
Tel: (907) 465-3520
Fax: (907) 465-3532

 

Becoming a Notary Public

  • Must be 18 years of age and legally residing in the United States
  • May not within 10 years before the commission takes effect have been convicted of a felony or incarcerated for a felony conviction.
  • If ever had a Notary commission revoked or have been disciplined for notarial misconduct in Alaska or any other jurisdiction, must contact the office before submitting application.
  • Each time you apply for a notary commission you must submit a new $1,000 notary bond. The notary bond is a specific contract document that must be completed and submitted as part of the application process. No bond or insurance that your employer is already holding will function as your notary bond. It will always be necessary for you to acquire a new bond and to submit it with each application.
  • Must complete the application form, notary bond, and submit a $40 application fee.
  • Application can be found here.

The Office of the Lieutenant Governor has a search tool of recently issued commissions or to locate any current Alaska notary, which can be accessed here.

ARIZONA

 

UPL Statute Summary

A.R.S. §41-329. Notary public title; foreign language; violation; classification.

A. Every notary public who is not an attorney who advertises, by any written or verbal means, the services of a notary public in a language other than English, with the exception of a single desk plaque, shall post or otherwise include with the advertisement a notice in English and the other language. The notice shall be of conspicuous size, if in writing, and shall state: "I am not an attorney and cannot give legal advice about immigration or any other legal matters."

B. A notary public who violates subsection A of this section is guilty of a class 6 felony and the notary public's commission shall be permanently revoked.

A.R.S. § 12-2701. Definitions

In this chapter, unless the context otherwise requires:

  1. "Immigration or naturalization matter" includes all matters implicating any law, action, filing or proceeding related to a person's immigration or citizenship status in the United States.
  2. "Original document" means any document of the United States government or any department or agency of the United States government, any foreign government, any state government or any political subdivision of any state, any United Nations document or any other document, including signed affidavits, that would demonstrate physical presence by a person in the United States.
  3. "Unauthorized practice of immigration and nationality law" means:
    1. The act of any person appearing in any case, either in person or through preparation or filing of any brief or other document, paper, application or petition on behalf of another person or client before or with the immigration and naturalization service, or any officer of the immigration and naturalization service, the executive office for immigration review or the board of immigration appeals, without authorization under this chapter.
    2. The study of the facts of a case and the applicable laws, coupled with giving advice and auxiliary activities, including the incidental preparation of papers, without authorization under this chapter, but does not include the lawful functions of a notary public, nonprofit organization or service consisting solely of assistance in the completion of blank spaces on printed immigration and naturalization service forms by a person whose remuneration, if any, is nominal and who does not hold himself out as qualified in legal matters or in immigration and naturalization procedure.

 

Immigration and Nationality Law Practice Act

A.R.S. § 12-2703 Scope of remedies; violation; classification

  1. It is unlawful for any person to render for compensation any service constituting the unauthorized practice of immigration and nationality law or to otherwise violate this chapter.
  2. A person having an interest or right that is or may be adversely affected under this chapter may initiate an action for civil remedies. The provisions of this article are in addition to all other causes of action, remedies and penalties that are available in this state.
  3. The attorney general shall initiate appropriate proceedings to prevent or to stop violations of this chapter.
  4. Section 13-703, subsection A and subsection B, paragraph 1 do not apply for the purpose of enhancing the sentence of a person who is convicted of two or more offenses under this section.
  5. A person who violates this chapter is guilty of a class 6 felony.

A.R.S. 12-2704. Unlawful practices; investigation

An act or practice in violation of this chapter constitutes an unlawful practice under section 44-1522. The attorney general may investigate and take appropriate action pursuant to title 44, chapter 10, article 7.

A.R.S. 13-604. Class 6 felony; designation

  1. Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, if a person is convicted of any class 6 felony not involving a dangerous offense and if the court, having regard to the nature and circumstances of the crime and to the history and character of the defendant, is of the opinion that it would be unduly harsh to sentence the defendant for a felony, the court may enter judgment of conviction for a class 1 misdemeanor and make disposition accordingly or may place the defendant on probation in accordance with chapter 9 of this title and refrain from designating the offense as a felony or misdemeanor until the probation is terminated. The offense shall be treated as a felony for all purposes until such time as the court may actually enter an order designating the offense a misdemeanor. This subsection does not apply to any person who stands convicted of a class 6 felony and who has previously been convicted of two or more felonies.
  2. If a crime or public offense is punishable in the discretion of the court by a sentence as a class 6 felony or a class 1 misdemeanor, the offense shall be deemed a misdemeanor if the prosecuting attorney files any of the following:
    1. An information in superior court designating the offense as a misdemeanor.
    2. A complaint in justice court or municipal court designating the offense as a misdemeanor within the jurisdiction of the respective court.
    3. A complaint, with the consent of the defendant, before or during the preliminary hearing amending the complaint to charge a misdemeanor.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

Ineffective assistance of counsel can be reported to the Arizona State Bar. They prefer that you first read the information on this page, then go to the complaint form.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL

Victims may contact the Consumer Protection Section of the Office of Attorney General. You may file a complaint online or mail it and supporting documents to:

Office of Arizona Attorney General
Consumer Protection
1275 West Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ 85007

Liability under the Arizona Immigration and Nationality Unfair Practices Act, accessible here.

The Arizona State Bar also has a UPL Committee, which has the authority to bring an action to enforce rules regarding non-lawyers engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.  You may file a complaint regarding the conduct of the non-lawyer and the state bar will review the allegations and determine whether it is appropriate to prosecute the individual.  A complaint form can be accessed here.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Office of Attorney General:

1275 West Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007-2926
Tel: (602) 542-5025 
Fax: (602) 542-4085

Arizona State Bar Association:

4201 N. 24th Street, Suite 200
Phoenix, AZ 85016-6288
Tel:  (602) 252-4804
Toll Free: (866) 482-9227
Fax: (602) 271-4930

Notary Public Information:

Secretary of State, Attn: Notary Division
1700 W. Washington St., Floor 7
Phoenix, AZ 85007-2808

 

Becoming a Notary Public

To qualify for an Arizona notary public commission, an applicant:

  • Must be 18 years of age
  • Must be a citizen or a legal permanent resident of the U.S.
  • Must NOT have a conviction for a felony UNLESS your civil rights have been restored, or a conviction of a lesser offence involving moral turpitude or of a nature that is incompatible with the duties of a notary public
  • Must be able to read and write English
  • Must be an Arizona Resident for income tax purposes
  • If you have had a professional license revoked or suspended for misconduct or dishonesty or any cause that substantially relates to the duties or responsibilities of a notary public, or if you have had your notary commission revoked or suspended, the Secretary of State may refuse to grant you a commission.

The application for notary publics can be accessed here.

The Secretary of State has a search tool of recently issued commissions or to locate any current Arizona notary, which can be accessed here.

ARKANSAS

 

UPL Statute Summary

Arkansas Code § 4-109-103.  Use of Notario and similar terms, Notice required

  1. Any notary public who chooses to use the term "notario" or "notario publico", or any similar terms, in any advertisement shall include in the advertisement the following notice:

    "I AM NOT A LICENSED ATTORNEY AND CANNOT ENGAGE IN THE PRACTICE OF LAW. I AM NOT A REPRESENTATIVE OF ANY GOVERNMENTAL AGENCY WITH AUTHORITY OVER IMMIGRATION OR CITIZENSHIP AND I CANNOT OFFER LEGAL ADVICE OR OTHER ASSISTANCE REGARDING IMMIGRATION."
     
  2. The notice shall be provided in both English and Spanish.

Arkansas Code § 16-22-208. Unauthorized Practice of Law

  1.  Any person, not a member of the Bar of Arkansas, who shall commit or who shall conspire to commit any act defined by the law of this state to be barratry or maintenance, or who shall solicit for himself or for another person who is not a member of the Bar of Arkansas in any manner or by any method the handling of claims or litigation involving injuries to persons or damage to property, in such a manner as would constitute the practice of law, shall be deemed to have submitted himself to the personal jurisdiction of any circuit or chancery court having territorial jurisdiction of the county where the act was committed for disciplinary proceedings in the same manner as if he were a member of the Bar of Arkansas.
  2. In addition to any other lawful action the court might take in proceedings under this section, the court shall be authorized to enter an injunction restraining the commission of any acts mentioned in subsection (a) of this section and may enforce the injunction with contempt proceedings as provided by law in other cases.
  3. It is declared to be the intent of this section to be in aid of and subordinate to the right of the Supreme Court of Arkansas to regulate and define the practice of law and prevent and prohibit the unauthorized or unlawful practice thereof by appropriate rules, orders, and penalties.

 

Licensing Agency UPL Awareness

Per Arkansas notary law, a commission will be revoked if a notary public “knowingly uses false or misleading advertising in which the notary public represents that the notary public has powers, duties, or privileges that the notary public does not possess by law” OR “is found by a court of this state to have engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.”

A summary of the state’s notary public law can be accessed here.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL

Possible liability under the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA), which can be found here.

One must contact the Attorney General’s office’s Consumer Protection Division. A consumer complaint may be filed online here.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

Ineffective assistance of counsel can be reported to the Arkansas State Bar using this form.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Attorney General:

Attorney General’s Office
323 Center Street, Suite 200
Little Rock, AR 72201
Consumer Hotline: (501) 682-2341; (800) 482-8982
Crime Victims and Outreach Hotline: (501) 682-1020; (800) 448-3014

Arkansas Bar Association:

2224 Cottondale Lane
Little Rock, AR 72202
Tel: (501) 375-4606; (800) 609-5668
Fax: (501) 375-4901

Secretary of State:

Arkansas Secretary of State
State Capitol
Little Rock, AR 72201-1094
Tel: (501) 682-3409

 

Becoming a Notary Public

To be eligible to be a notary public in Arkansas, one must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older.
  • Be a bona fide citizen of the United States or a permanent resident alien (if resident alien, recorded Declaration of Domicile must be attached).
  • Be a legal resident of Arkansas or of an adjoining state and employed in Arkansas.
  • Be able to read and write English.
  • Have not had a commission as a notary revoked during the past 10 years.
  • Have never been convicted of a felony.
  • Review the law concerning notaries public and understand the duties of a notary public.
  • Send in completed application, accessible here. Along with $20.00 application fee.
  • Obtain a $7,500 surety bond or contract purchased from a bond or insurance company of your choice authorized to do business in Arkansas.  Enclose a copy of the bond, not the application for the bond.

The Secretary of State has a search tool of issued commissions or to locate any current Arkansas notary, which can be accessed here.

CALIFORNIA

 

Immigration Consultant Statute

California has a distinct profession established by state law called “Immigration Consultants,” which is not the same as being a notary public (compare the requirements for each below).  These professionals have to comply with their own particularized set of rules and are regulated by the Secretary of State and state laws, accessible here. A person engages in the business or acts in the capacity of an immigration consultant when that person gives non-legal assistance or advice on an immigration matter.  

An immigration consultant cannot hold themselves out as lawyers and may be subject to a civil penalty for each violation as stated in section 22445 of the law or injunctive relief under section 22446.5.

 

Becoming an Immigration Consultant

Prior to engaging in the business or acting in the capacity of an immigration consultant, a person must obtain a $50,000 bond from a corporate surety (admitted to do business in California) and file a copy of the bond with the Secretary of State's office, along the Immigration Consultant Disclosure form. In addition, a person engaging in the business or acting in the capacity of an immigration consultant must satisfy a background check conducted by the Secretary of State.

Please refer to the Immigration Consultant Check List for the requirements to register with the Secretary of State as an immigration consultant.

A renewal or continuation of an immigration consultant surety bond must be filed with the Secretary of State prior to the expiration of the surety bond. If the renewal or continuation is not filed with the Secretary of State prior to the expiration of the surety bond, the person covered by the bond may not engage in the business or act in the capacity of an immigration consultant until he or she again has complied with all of the qualification requirements, including the submission of a new surety bond, disclosure statement, and the passing of a background check. Surety bond continuation certificates or similar documents purporting to renew surety bonds that are received after the expiration of the applicable surety bond will be returned unfiled.

A person can also be disqualified from acting as an immigration consultant for any of the following reasons:

You can search for current Immigration Consultants here.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL

The AG’s Office of Immigrant Assistance provides education and outreach services to immigrant communities. The office can also direct complaints to appropriate law enforcement agencies and help immigrant communities to understand and use the legal system to seek redress.

The Office of the Attorney General has brought legal actions against dozens of "immigration consultants" for taking advantage of immigrant clients by illegally portraying themselves as lawyers, engaging in false advertising and violating state laws regulating immigration consultants.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

Ineffective assistance of counsel can be reported to the State Bar of California. The form and instructions to submit a complaint may be accessed here.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Immigration Consultant Information:

California Secretary of State
Special Filings

P.O. Box 942870

Sacramento, CA 94277–0001
Tel: (916) 653-3984

Attorney General’s Office, Office of Immigration Assistance

Attorney General's Office
California Department of Justice
Attn: Office of Immigration Assistance
P.O. Box 944255
Sacramento, CA 94244-2550
Tel: (888) 587-0557

 

Notary Public Disciplinary Guidelines

The Secretary of State is responsible for appointing and commissioning notaries public in the State of California. In the performance of such duties, the Secretary of State strives to ensure that applicants and commissioned notaries public possess the requisite honesty, credibility, truthfulness, and integrity to fulfill the responsibilities of the position. The Secretary of State has issued Disciplinary Guidelines to guide this mission. The disciplinary guidelines are intended to facilitate due process and uniformity in reviewing notary public applications, investigating alleged violations of notarial law, and instituting administrative actions against notaries public and notary public applicants. The guidelines reflect the specific civil penalties established for certain violations of notary public law in Government Code sections 8213.5, 8213.6, 8214.15, 8214.21, and 8214.23, and Civil Code sections 1185 and 1189, where applicable. A civil penalty may be imposed in conjunction with a revocation or suspension of a commission or the denial of an application submitted by a person who may have held a notary public commission in the past or as the sole disciplinary sanction taken against a notary public. California law establishes a number of infraction, misdemeanor, and felony offenses applicable to notaries public in addition to the sanctions discussed in these guidelines. For more information, review Government Code sections 6203 and 8200 et seq., Civil Code section 1185 et seq., and Penal Code sections 115 et seq., 470 et seq., and 530.5.

The Notary Public Disciplinary Guidelines 2012, last revised and effective November 16, 2012. Two of these Notary Public Disciplinary Guidelines specifically discuss immigration matters: 1). 8214.1(m) Violating Government Code section 8223, and 2). 8214.1(p) Violation of Government Code Section 8219.5: Advertising in Language Other than English.

8214.1(m) Violating Government Code section 8223: Immigration Matters

Notaries public must be aware of restrictions connected to immigration matters and must fully understand those restrictions when advertising their services in order to avoid misleading the public or misrepresenting the authority of notaries public. In summary, Government Code section 8223 provides that a notary public with expertise in immigration matters or who provides immigration services cannot advertise in any manner that he or she is a notary public.

Example: A notary public advertises both immigration and notary public services, not necessarily in the same advertisement.

8214.1(p) Violation of Government Code Section 8219.5: Advertising in Language Other than English

Advertising in words other than in English may result in a misrepresentation due to “literal translation” of a word or phrase from one language to another without regard to the true meaning of the word or phrase in the language which is being translated. The literal translation of the phrase “notary public” into Spanish, hereby defined as “notario publico” or “notario,” is prohibited. Such a literal translation often creates a false assumption that the notary public is an attorney and can charge fees in conjunction with professional legal services. A notary public who is not an attorney shall not advertise the services of a notary public in a language other than English by signs or other means of written communication with the exception of a single desk plaque, unless the sign or other written communication is accompanied by a notice in English and in the other language that sets forth the following: (1) the statement that: “I am not an attorney and, therefore, cannot give legal advice about immigration or any other legal matters;” and (2) the fees set by statute which a notary public may charge. See Discussion of Advertising Violations on page 32.

Example 1: Advertising as a notary public in a language other than English without providing the requisite notice in English and in the other language that the notary public is not an attorney and cannot give legal advice about immigration and any other legal matters and also without setting forth the statutory fees that can be charged by the notary public for notarial services.

Example 2: Using the words “notario publico” in any writing.

 

Becoming a Notary Public

Every person appointed as a notary public in California shall:

  • be 18 years of age or older (there is no maximum age set by statute)
  • be a legal California resident
  • complete a course of study approved by the Secretary of State
  • satisfactorily complete and pass a written examination prescribed by the Secretary of State
  • clear a background check
    • All applicants are required to disclose on their application any arrests for which trial is pending and all convictions. Convictions dismissed under Penal Code section 1203.4 or 1203.4a must be disclosed.
    • The Secretary of State will recommend denial of an application for the following reasons:
      • Failure to disclose any arrest or conviction;
      • Conviction of a felony where not less than 10 years have passed since the completion of probation;
      • Conviction of a disqualifying misdemeanor where not less than 5 years have passed since the completion of probation; or
      • A determination that the facts of a particular case warrant denial, such as the nature and severity of the act or the presence of aggravating factors.

A listing of Notary Publics is available here. More information on the Notary Public process is available here.

Secretary of Sates – Notary Public Office

1500 11th Street, 2nd Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
Tel: (916) 653–3595

COLORADO

 

UPL Statute Summary

Colorado Revised Statutes § 12-55-110.3. Advertisements for services - unauthorized practice of law – prohibited conduct - penalties.

  1. (a) A notary public who is not a licensed attorney in the state of Colorado and who advertises, including by signage, his or her services in a language other than English shall include in the advertisement the following notice, both in English and in the language of the advertisement:

    I AM NOT AN ATTORNEY LICENSED TO PRACTICE LAW IN THE STATE OF COLORADO AND I MAY NOT GIVE LEGAL ADVICE OR ACCEPT FEES FOR LEGAL ADVICE.

    (b) All written advertisements shall include the language exactly as written in paragraph (a) of this subsection (1). Such language shall be clearly visible. Oral advertisements or solicitations, including those on radio or television, shall contain the same message but shall not be required to use the exact language.
  2. A notary public who advertises in a language other than English shall post a list of fees permitted by law for notarial services. Such list shall be written in English and in the language of the advertisement and shall be posted in a highly visible location at the notary's place of business. Such list shall include the notice included in paragraph (a) of subsection (1) of this section.
  3. (a) A notary public who is not a licensed attorney in the state of Colorado shall not represent or advertise himself or herself as an immigration consultant or an expert on immigration matters.

    (b) A notary public who is not an attorney licensed to practice law in Colorado is prohibited from:

(I) Providing any service that constitutes the unauthorized practice of law;

(II) Stating or implying that he or she is an attorney licensed to practice law in this state;

(III) Soliciting or accepting compensation to prepare documents for or otherwise represent the interest of another in a judicial or administrative proceeding, including a proceeding relating to immigration to the United States, United States citizenship, or related matters;

(IV) Soliciting or accepting compensation to obtain relief of any kind on behalf of another from any officer, agency, or employee of the state of Colorado or of the United States; or

(V) Using the phrase "notario" or "notario publico" to advertise the services of a notary public, whether by sign, pamphlet, stationery, or other written communication or by radio, television, or other nonwritten communication.

(VI) Engaging in conduct that constitutes a deceptive trade practice pursuant to section 6-1-727, C.R.S.

  1. Knowing and willful violation of the provisions of this section shall constitute a deceptive trade practice pursuant to section 6-1-105, C.R.S., and shall also constitute official misconduct pursuant to section 12-55-116.

 

Licensing Agency UPL Awareness

A notary complaint form can be accessed here.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL

Possible liability under the Colorado Consumer Protection Act, which can be found here. One must contact the Attorney General’s office, which will allow the Better Business Bureau to handle the complaint. A consumer complaint may be filed online here.

One may contact the Colorado Bar Association’s Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee. The 2006 Annual Report of the Colorado Supreme Court Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel states:

“The Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee may direct trial counsel to seek a civil injunction by filing a petition with the Supreme Court or, in the alternative, offer the respondent an opportunity to enter into a written agreement to refrain from the conduct in question, to refund any fees collected, and to make restitution. Additionally, trial counsel may institute contempt proceedings against a respondent that is engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. See C.R.C.P. 238.

In 2006 the Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee took action on 26 unauthorized practice of law matters, and 22 complaints were dismissed by Regulation Counsel, for a total of 48 completed matters. See Table 28.”

See Colo. R.P.C. Rule 5.5. Unauthorized Practice of Law: Multijurisdictional Practice of Law.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Attorney General:

Attorney General’s Office
Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center
1300 Broadway, 10th Floor
Denver, CO 80203
Tel: (720) 508-6012
Fax: (720) 508-6033
uccc@state.co.us

Colorado Bar Association:

1900 Grant Street, Suite 900
Denver, CO 80203
Tel: (303) 860-1115

Secretary of State:

Colorado Department of State
1700 Broadway
Denver, CO 80290
Tel: (303) 894-2200 & press 4
Fax: (303) 869-4871
notary@sos.state.co.us

 

Becoming a Notary Public

To be eligible to be a notary public in Colorado, one must:

  • Be a resident of Colorado.
  • Be 18 years of age or older.
  • Have never been convicted of a felony.
  • Have not been convicted of a misdemeanor involving dishonesty in the past five years.
  • Be able to read and write the English language.
  • Never have had a notary commission revoked.

The application and supporting materials must be scanned and submitted online, accessible here.

The Secretary of State has a search tool of issued commissions or to locate any current Colorado notary, which can be accessed here.

CONNECTICUT

 

UPL Statute Summary

Connecticut General Statutes §51-88. Practice of law by persons not attorneys.

  1. A person who has not been admitted as an attorney under the provisions of section 51-80 shall not:
  1. Practice law or appear as an attorney-at-law for another, in any court of record in this state,
  2. make it a business to practice law, or appear as an attorney-at-law for another in any such court,
  3. make it a business to solicit employment for an attorney-at-law,
  4. hold himself out to the public as being entitled to practice law,
  5. assume to be an attorney-at-law,
  6. assume, use or advertise the title of lawyer, attorney and counselor-at-law, attorney-at-law, counselor-at-law, attorney, counselor, attorney and counselor, or an equivalent term, in such manner as to convey the impression that he is a legal practitioner of law, or
  7. advertise that he, either alone or with others, owns, conducts or maintains a law office, or office or place of business of any kind for the practice of law.

      
  1.  
    1. Any person who violates any provision of this section shall be guilty of a class D felony, except that in any prosecution under this section, if the defendant proves by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant committed the proscribed act or acts while admitted to practice law before the highest court of original jurisdiction in any state, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or a territory of the United States or in a district court of the United States and while a member in good standing of such bar, such defendant shall be guilty of a class C misdemeanor. No person whose admission to practice law under the provisions of section 51-80, or whose admission or permission to practice law pursuant to any other statute or rule of the Superior Court has been suspended, solely on the basis of the failure to pay the occupational tax on attorneys imposed pursuant to section 51-81b or the client security fund fee assessed pursuant to section 51-81d shall be subject to prosecution under this section for engaging in the practice of law during the period of such suspension.
    2. The provisions of subdivision (1) of this subsection shall not apply to any employee in this state of a stock or nonstock corporation, partnership, limited liability company or other business entity who, within the scope of his or her employment, renders legal advice to his or her employer or its corporate affiliate and who is admitted to practice law before the highest court of original jurisdiction in any state, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or a territory of the United States, a foreign jurisdiction as permitted by rule of the Superior Court or in a district court of the United States and is a member in good standing of such bar. For the purposes of this subdivision, “employee” means any person engaged in service to an employer in the business of his or her employer, but does not include an independent contractor.
    3.  In any prosecution under section 53a-8 for soliciting, requesting, commanding, importuning or intentionally aiding in the violation of this section, and in any prosecution under section 53a-48 for conspiracy to violate this section, the state shall have the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had actual knowledge that the person was not admitted to practice law in any jurisdiction at the time such violation occurred.
  2. Any person who violates any provision of this section shall be deemed in contempt of court, and the Superior Court shall have jurisdiction in equity upon the petition of any member of the bar of this state in good standing or upon its own motion to restrain such violation.   
  3. The provisions of this section shall not be construed as prohibiting:
    1. A town clerk from preparing or drawing deeds, mortgages, releases, certificates of change of name and trade name certificates which are to be recorded or filed in the town clerk's office in the town in which the town clerk holds office;
    2. any person from practicing law or pleading at the bar of any court of this state in his own cause;
    3. any person from acting as an agent or representative for a party in an international arbitration, as defined in subsection (3) of section 50a-101; or
    4. any attorney admitted to practice law in any other state or the District of Columbia from practicing law in relation to an impeachment proceeding pursuant to Article Ninth of the Connecticut Constitution, including an impeachment inquiry or investigation, if the attorney is retained by (A) the General Assembly, the House of Representatives, the Senate, a committee of the House of Representatives or the Senate, or the presiding officer at a Senate trial, or (B) an officer subject to impeachment pursuant to said Article Ninth.

 

Connecticut General Statutes § 3-95a. Prohibition re notary offering or providing advice in immigration matters. Use of title of notario or notario publico.

(a) A notary public shall not offer or provide legal advice to any person in immigration matters or represent any person in immigration proceedings unless such notary public (1) has been admitted as an attorney under the provisions of section 51-80, or (2) is authorized pursuant to 8 CFR 292.2 to practice immigration law or represent persons in immigration proceedings.

(b) A notary public shall not assume, use or advertise the title of notario or notario publico, unless such notary public (1) has been admitted as an attorney under the provisions of section 51-80, or (2) indicates in any advertisement or otherwise provides written notice that such notary public is not licensed as an attorney in this state.

(c) Any notary public who violates any provision of this section shall have committed a violation of subsection (a) of section 51-88 and be subject to the penalties set forth in subsection (b) of section 51-88.

 

Licensing Agency UPL Awareness

Any person may file a formal complaint against a notary public. All complaints must be submitted in writing to the Notary Public Unit of the Secretary of the State's Office. A complaint must allege a specific violation of Connecticut Notary Public Law. It must also include photocopies of relevant documents.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL

There is also liability under the 2009 Unfair Trade Practices Act, which can be found here. One must contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Department.  A consumer complaint form in English AND Spanish may be accessed online here. You may submit the form by email or mail to:

Department of Consumer Protection
Complaint Center
165 Capitol Avenue
Room 110
Hartford, CT  06106
Email: dcp.frauds@ct.gov

One may also involve the Connecticut Bar Association’s Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee. The Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law provides oversight for law practitioners not admitted as attorneys in Connecticut, and advises whether an activity is the practice of law. Advice is provided with disclaimers to avoid any implication that it is binding upon the recipient, or recognized by the courts as precedent.  Contact information can be found here.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Attorney General:

Department of Consumer Protection
165 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106-1630
Tel: (860) 713-6100
Consumer info/Complaints: (860) 713-6300
Fax: (860) 713-7239

Connecticut Bar Association:

30 Bank Street
PO Box 350
New Britain, CT 06050-0350

Secretary of State:

Office of the Secretary of the State
State of Connecticut
30 Trinity Street
Hartford, CT 06106
Tel: (860) 509-6200

 

Becoming a Notary Public

To be eligible to be a notary public in Connecticut, one must:

  • Be a resident of Connecticut or have a principal place of business in the state
  • Be 18 years of age or older.
  • Submit a completed application form, pay the application fee of $120.00
  • Pass a written examination administered by the Secretary of State’s Office.

The application can be accessed here and must be submitted to the following address:

Notary Public Unit
Office of Secretary of the State          
State of Connecticut
PO Box 150470
Hartford, CT 06115-0470

DELAWARE

 

UPL Statute Summary

Delaware Supreme Court Rule 86, Board on the Unauthorized Practice of Law

Appointment and term of office. There shall be a Supreme Court Board of the Unauthorized Practice of Law. The Board shall consist of nine members appointed by the Court from any of the counties of the State, each of the counties to be represented on the Board. Members shall be appointed for three year terms, and no person may serve more than two full consecutive terms as a member of the Board. Six members of the Board shall be members of the Delaware Bar and three members of the Board shall be public members of who are not members of the Delaware Bar. Vacancies occurring during a term shall be filled for the unexpired term. The Court shall appoint the Chair and other officers of the Board.

  1. Duties. It shall be the duty of the Board to administer this Rule, to investigate matters sua sponte, or referred to it from any source, respecting issues of the unauthorized practice of law.
  2. Powers. The Board shall have the power:
    • Adopt rules. Subject to the approval of the Court to adopt rules of procedure for the conduct of its duties, and to adopt general rules, in furtherance of and supplemental to the Rules of this Court, relating to the unauthorized practice of law. Rules of the Board shall have the same force and effect as Rules of this Court;
    • Subpoena. In connection with the performance of its duties, to take testimony under oath, and to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents by the filing of a praecipe for a subpoena with the Clerk of the Supreme Court, service of such subpoena to be made by the Sheriff of Kent County;
    • Stenographic assistance. To employ such stenographic or other assistance as may from time to time be necessary or proper;
    • Investigations and hearings. To conduct such investigations and hearings as may be necessary respecting any questions of the unauthorized practice of law, to make findings of fact and conclusions of law regarding the same, to make recommendations to the Court as to the disposition of individual matters, and to file its report of such findings with the Court in a timely manner;
    • Assessment of costs. To assess and require the payment of the Board's reasonable costs and expenses by any person or organization found by the Court to be engaging in the unauthorized practice of law, or attendant to any investigation or hearing which results in a cessation of the unauthorized practice of law or an Order of this Court directing the same;
    • Enforcement. Pursuant to this Court's inherent and exclusive jurisdiction over all matters respecting the practice of law in this State, to approve after investigation the initiation of enforcement proceedings in this Court to enforce any order of the Court directing a person or organization to cease and desist from the unauthorized practice of law, to conduct such hearings as are directed by the Court for such purpose, to make findings of fact and conclusions of law regarding the same, to make recommendations to the Court as to the disposition of such matters, and to file its report of such findings with the Court in a timely manner.
  3. All presentations by Office of Disciplinary Counsel. In all investigations and hearings the Office of Disciplinary Counsel shall be responsible for conducting such investigations and presenting the matters to the Board pursuant to paragraph (c) above.
  4. Court review of actions by the Board. Findings by the Board related to disputed issues of fact and credibility shall not be reversed by the Court so long as they are supported by substantial evidence. The Board's findings related to legal issues and its recommended disposition in individual matters shall be reviewed by the Court on a de novo basis.
  5. Associate members. The Court may appoint associate members of the Board on the Unauthorized Practice of Law to assist each member of the Board. Each associate member shall be appointed for a term of 3 years, unless sooner removed by the Court, and shall have such duties and functions as shall be prescribed by the Board. Associate members of the Board shall not have the power to vote upon any determination or decision of the Board.
  6. The Delaware State Court’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel is also responsible for evaluating complaints concerning the unauthorized practice of law in Delaware. If warranted, after evaluation and investigation, the ODC is responsible for prosecuting individuals who engage in the unauthorized practice of law in Delaware.

 

Licensing Agency UPL Awareness

The Delaware Notary Association seems to be aware of the issue as the following quote appears on their website:

Avoid Unauthorized Practice of Law unless licensed to do so. The Notary Public shall act as a Ministerial/Governmental Officer and Public Servant.”

The Delaware Notary Association also has more information regarding UPL on this page.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL

Liability may be incurred based upon the Consumer Fraud Act or the Deceptive Practices Act. A complaint would need to be filed with the Attorney General’s office. The process is described on this page.

Instructions on how to file a complaint concerning the unauthorized practice of law in Delaware with the State Bar Association are available here. One must provide a written statement describing exactly what occurred, copies of any legal documents which relate to the complaint, and send to:

Office of Disciplinary Counsel
820 N. French Street, 11th Floor
Wilmington, DE 19801-3545

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

Ineffective assistance of counsel can be reported to the Delaware Courts’ Office of Disciplinary Counsel here.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Delaware State Courts, Office of Disciplinary Counsel:

Office of Disciplinary Counsel
The Renaissance Centre
405 North King Street, Suite 420
Wilmington, DE 19801-3545
Tel: (302) 651-3931
Fax: (302) 651-3939

Attorney General Consumer Complaint:

Delaware Department of Justice

Consumer Protection Division

Carvel State Office Bldg.

820 N. French St.

Wilmington, DE 19801

Notary Public Information:

Secretary of State
Notary Public Section
P.O. Box 898
Dover, DE 19903
notary@delaware.gov
Tel: (302) 739-4111
Fax: (302) 622-4466

 

Becoming a Notary Public

To be eligible to be a notary public in Delaware, one must:

  • Must be at least 18 years of age
  • Must be of good character and reputation (Individuals convicted of a felony who have not had their rights restored as well as applicants convicted of a crime involving dishonesty or moral turpitude are not eligible for a Delaware notary commission.)
  • Must have a reasonable need for a notary commission
  • Must submit form and application fee
  • Application process and more information can be accessed here.

FLORIDA

 

UPL Statute Summary

Florida Statute § 454.23. Penalties.

Any person not licensed or otherwise authorized to practice law in this state who practices law in this state or holds himself or herself out to the public as qualified to practice law in this state, or who willfully pretends to be, or willfully takes or uses any name, title, addition, or description implying that he or she is qualified, or recognized by law as qualified, to practice law in this state, commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

Florida Statute § 454.31 Practice while disbarred or suspended prohibited.

Any person who has been knowingly disbarred and who has not been lawfully reinstated or is knowingly under suspension from the practice of law by any circuit court of the state or by the Supreme Court of the state who practices law in this state or holds himself or herself out as an attorney at law or qualified to practice law in this state commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

Florida Statute §454.32 Aiding or assisting disbarred or suspended attorney prohibited.

A person who knowingly aids or assists any person in carrying on the unauthorized practice of law, knowing that such person has been disbarred and has not been lawfully reinstated or is under suspension from the practice of law by any circuit court of the state or by the Supreme Court of the state, commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084, and shall also be subject to disbarment.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPIL

Victims may file a complaint with the Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Consumer Services Division or the Attorney General’s Office’ Consumer Protection Division under the Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, accessible here.

One may file a complaint with the Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services here and the Attorney General’s Office here.

You may also contact The Florida Bar in order to file a UPL complaint. The Unlicensed Practice of Law (UPL) program was established by the Supreme Court of Florida to protect the public against harm caused by unlicensed individuals practicing law.

Unlicensed practice of law is a felony in Florida, as is practice by a disbarred or suspended attorney or assistance to a disbarred or suspended attorney. These criminal laws may be enforced by the State Attorney’s Office for each judicial district.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

To report ineffective assistance of counsel in Florida see the instructional page from the Florida Bar Association, available here.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Office of Attorney General:

State of Florida
The Capitol PL-01
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1050
Tel: (850) 414-3300
www.myfloridalegal.com

Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services:

FDACS
Division of Consumer Services
Mediation & Enforcement
2005 Apalachee Parkway
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-6500
Tel: 1-800-HELP-FLA (1-800-435-7352)
www.freshfromflorida.com

The Florida Bar:

651 E. Jefferson Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-2300
Tel: (850) 561-5600
www.floridabar.org

 

Becoming a Notary Public

To be eligible to be a notary public in Florida, one must:

  • Obtain an application and information from a bonding company approved to submit applications electronically to the Department of State, Notary Commissions and Certifications Section.
  • Most of these companies provide “one-stop-shopping” — they furnish an application, pay the state fees, write the notary bond, and supply the applicant’s notary seal. The applicant makes one payment to the company. An applicant will probably want to check with several companies to compare services and prices. The state fees of $39 are fixed by law, but the bond premium and the notary seal are competitively priced. Please note that the State does not give out applications or provide notary seals.
  • The completed application is submitted electronically and in paper format to the Department of State, and if approved without further review by the Governor’s Office, the commission should be issued within just a few days. The notary commission certificate is printed by the Department of State and mailed to the bonding agency. Typically, the company will forward it to the applicant, and the notary seal will follow within a few days. The entire process should be completed within 2-3 weeks, unless your application requires special handling.
  • All first time notary applicants are required to complete a three-hour notary education course by an approved provider. For a list of approved providers please go to Notary Education.

Attached is a list of bonding agencies who electronically transmit notary applications to the Department of State.

The Secretary of State has a search tool to locate recently issued commissions or to locate any current Florida notary, which can be accessed here.

GEORGIA

 

UPL Statute Summary

Georgia Code 15-19-51, forbids the unauthorized practice of law. It is misdemeanor in Georgia punishable by up to a year in jail.

There is also a law, passed in 2008, regulating “Immigration Assistance Providers” in Georgia, O.C.G.A. Chapter 20A of Section 43. These persons can provide the following assistance:

  1. Completing a government agency form on behalf of the client and appropriate to the client's needs;
  2. Transcribing responses to a government agency form which is related to an immigration matter; provided, however, that advice shall not be offered to a client as to his or her answers on such forms;
  3. Translating information on forms to a client and translating the client's answers to questions posed on such forms;
  4. Securing for the client supporting documents currently in existence, such as birth and marriage certificates, which may be needed to be submitted with government agency forms;
  5. Notarizing signatures on government agency forms, provided that the person performing the service is a notary public commissioned in the State of Georgia and is lawfully present in the United States;
  6. Preparing or arranging for the preparation of photographs and fingerprints;
  7. Arranging for the performance of medical testing (including X-rays and AIDS tests) and the obtaining of reports of such test results; and
  8. Performing such other services that the Secretary of State determines by rule may be appropriately performed by such licensees in light of the purposes of this chapter.”

The following disclaimer must be posted at the place of business as well as on advertisements:

"I AM NOT AN ATTORNEY LICENSED TO PRACTICE LAW AND MAY NOT GIVE LEGAL ADVICE OR ACCEPT FEES FOR LEGAL ADVICE."

 

Licensing Agency UPL Awareness

The Secretary of State may assess civil penalties for violations of the UPIL statute in addition to other civil and criminal penalties that may apply.

I have made one report to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office based upon an advertisement that appears to violate the new law. The office tells me that they are investigating, but the ad continues to run without disclaimers. Though I have no specific examples to cite, I believe it is very likely that this law will have the opposite of its intended effect. While it may be technically possible to assist someone under this law without violating other state and federal laws, it is practically impossible.

Furthermore, this new “Immigration Assistance Provider” (IAP) law has made it more difficult to pursue either injunctions or criminal charges against those who violate the criminal UPL statute. Victims are expected to provide specific information to prove that the provider exceeded his or her authority under the IAP law. If the provider does not actually claim to be a lawyer (or other flagrant conduct), the claim is likely to be referred to the Secretary of State’s Office where it is unclear what, if any, action is being taken.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL

You may file a complaint online or by mail with the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.

Reports can be made to the Georgia bar. Only written complaints will be accepted. Complaints may be filed here.   

 

Difficulties in Complaint Process/Actual Suppression of UPL

The Attorney General of Georgia does not handle UPL matters. However, reports of UPL can be made to local District Attorney offices. Complaints of UPIL can also be made to the Georgia Secretary of State.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

Ineffective assistance of counsel can be reported to the Georgia State Bar here.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Office of the Secretary of State

Secretary of State
Professional Licensing Board
237 Coliseum DriveMacon, GA 31217
Tel: (478) 207-2440

Georgia State Bar Association:

The Unlicensed Practice of Law Department
State Bar of Georgia
104 Marietta St. NW Suite 100
Atlanta, GA 30303
Tel: (404) 527-8769

 

Becoming a Notary Public

The fee to become a Notary Public in Georgia is $37. Info from the website is within the quotation marks:

Qualifications to become a notary in Georgia:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Be a citizen of the United States or a legal resident of the United States.
  • Be a legal resident of the county in which he or she applies (or, if a non-Georgia resident, you must reside in a state bordering Georgia and carry on a business or profession in Georgia or be regularly employed in the Georgia county of application).
  • Have, and provide at the time of application, the applicant's operating telephone number.Be able to read and write English.

Notary Training: Georgia does not require mandatory training; however, a free web-based training course is highly recommended. This course explains Georgia notary law, and presents basic notary procedures. The course is not required in order to receive a commission.” The Notary Public Search Index can be found here.

HAWAII

 

UPL Statute Summary

HRS §605-14. Unauthorized practice of law prohibited.

It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, association, or corporation to engage in or attempt to engage in or to offer to engage in the practice of law, or to do or attempt to do or offer to do any act constituting the practice of law, except and to the extent that the person, firm, or association is licensed or authorized so to do by an appropriate court, agency, or office or by a statute of the State or of the United States. Nothing in sections 605-14 to 605-17 contained shall be construed to prohibit the preparation or use by any party to a transaction of any legal or business form or document used in the transaction.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL

Victims may contact the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. You may download the complaint form here.

Office of Consumer Protection
Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs
235 South Beretania Street, Room 801
Honolulu, HI 96813-2419
Tel: (808) 587-3222

Liability may be found under HRS §480-2 (Unfair competition, practices, declared unlawful), accessible here.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

Ineffective assistance of counsel can be reported to numerous government agencies from this page.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Office of Consumer Protection:

Office of Consumer Protection
Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs
235 South Beretania Street, Room 801
Honolulu, HI 96813-2419
Tel: (808) 586-2630
Fax: (808) 586-2640

Notary Public Information:

Department of the Attorney General
Notary Public Office
425 Queen St
Honolulu, HI 96813
Tel: (808) 586-1216

 

Becoming a Notary Public

  • Must be 18 years of age and resident of Hawaii
  • Must be a U.S. citizen
  • Must submit an application to the Attorney General.
  • Once the application is approves, the applicant must pass a written closed-book examination.
  • Once the examination is passed, application must pay a $40.00 fee.
  • Must obtain a surety bond

The Secretary of State has a search tool of recently issued commissions or to locate any current Alabama notary, which can be accessed here.

IDAHO

 

UPL Statute Summary

Idaho Statute §3-420, UNLAWFUL PRACTICE OF LAW -- PENALTY

  • If any person shall, without having become duly admitted and licensed to practice law within this state or whose right or license to practice therein shall have terminated either by disbarment, suspension, failure to pay his license or otherwise, practice or assume to act or hold himself out to the public as a person qualified to practice or carry on the calling of a lawyer within this state, he shall be guilty of an offense under this act, and on conviction thereof be fined not to exceed five hundred dollars ($500), or be imprisoned for a period of not to exceed six (6) months, or both, and if he shall have been admitted to practice law he shall in addition be subject to suspension under the proceedings provided by this act.(Emphasis added.)

 

Licensing Agency UPL Awareness

The Secretary of State Office seems to be aware of the issue of UPL as it is stated in the notary public handbook that UPL is official misconduct and may be grounds for removal. The handbook can be accessed here.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPIL

The Idaho Consumer Protection Act can be accessed here.

Pursuant to Section VIII of the Idaho Bar Commission Rules, 800 et seq., Bar Counsel has the authority to investigate complaints of unauthorized practice of law under the direction of the Standing Committee on Unauthorized Practice of Law. The Idaho State Bar Association has a complaint process that is described here.  If you believe that someone has engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in Idaho, you may make a complaint by submitting a written statement, preferably on a Bar Counsel Complaint Form (accessible here) to:

Bar Counsel’s Office

Idaho State Bar

P.O. Box 895

Boise, ID 83701

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

Ineffective assistance of counsel can be reported to the Idaho State Bar here.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Secretary of State:

Secretary of State

450 N 4th Street 

Boise ID 83702

State Bar Counsel:

Bar Counsel’s Office

Idaho State Bar
         
P.O. Box 895

Boise, ID 83701

Notary Public Information:

Secretary of State


450 N 4th Street 

Boise, ID 83702
Tel: (208) 332-2810
Fax: (208) 334-3500
dfarnsworth@sos.idaho.gov

 

Becoming a Notary Public

As described on the website:

  • Notaries are appointed by the Secretary of State for terms of six years.
  • Each applicant for appointment must:
    1. Be at least 18 years old
    2. Be a resident of or employed in the state of Idaho
    3. Be able to read and write the English language
    4. Not have been removed from office for misconduct nor convicted of a serious crime within the last ten years. United States citizens and lawful resident aliens may be appointed as notaries.
  • Complete the application form enclosed in the Notary Public Handbook. The applicant's signature must be notarized on the application.
  • Obtain a rubber stamp seal prior to submitting the application and bond with the Secretary of State's office. The seal may contain ONLY the words "Notary Public", "State of Idaho" and the notary public's name and NOTHING MORE (sample seals are shown on page 29 of the Notary Handbook). Notary stamp seals can be purchased at office supply stores, stationary stores and rubber stamp companies. Effective July 1, 1998 all new and renewing commissions shall obtain a rubber stamp seal. Stamp a sample of your seal where indicated on the application.
  • Obtain from a bonding or surety company (Insurance Agency) a $10,000 notary bond.
  • Enclose the $30.00 filing fee with your application. If you are an officer or employee of a state, county, city or district, and the commission is used in the scope of your employment, you are exempt from the $30.00 filing fee.
    • Submit the completed application, signed bond and $30.00 filing fee to the address listed below:

      Secretary of State


      450 N 4th Street 

      Boise, ID 83702

The Secretary of State has a search tool to keep track of recently issued commissions or to locate any current Idaho notary, which can be accessed here.

ILLINOIS

 

UPL Statute Summary

815 ILCS 505/2AA regulates private individuals who assist persons with immigration matters. The statute sets out rules of practice and conduct for those individuals to promote honesty and fair dealing with residents and to preserve public confidence. It states that any person who provides or offers to provide immigration assistance service may perform only the following services:

  1. Complete a government agency form, only if the completion does not involve a legal judgment.
  2. Transcribing responses to a government form, but not advising a customer as to their answers on those forms.
  3. Translating information on a form or answers to questions on those forms.
  4. Securing supporting documents currently in existence that may be needed to be submitted with government agency forms.
  5. Translating documents from a foreign language into English.
  6. Notarizing signatures on government agency forms, if the person is a notary public in Illinois.
  7. Making referrals, without fee, to attorneys who could undertake legal representation for a person in an immigration matter.
  8. Preparing or arranging for the preparation of photographs and fingerprints.
  9. Arranging for the performance of Medical testing and the obtaining of reports of such test results.
  10. Conducting English language and civics courses
  11. Other

The statutes also mandates that those who offer immigration services shall post signs at their place of business setting forth information in English and in every other language in which the person provides or offers immigration assistance with the following statements:

  • “I AM NOT AN ATTORNEY LICENSED TO PRACTICE LAW AND MAY NOT GIVE LEGAL ADVICE OR ACCEPT FEES FOR LEGAL ADVICE.”
  • “I AM NOT ACCREDITED TO REPRESENT YOU BEFORE THE UNITED STATES IMMIGRATION AND NAURALIZATION SERVICE AND THE IMMIGRATION BOARD OF APPEALS.”

“Upon his own information or upon the complaint of any person, the Attorney General or any State's Attorney, or a municipality with a population of more than 1,000,000, may maintain an action for injunctive relief and also seek a civil penalty not exceeding $50,000 in the circuit court against any person who violates any provision of this Section. These remedies are in addition to, and not in substitution for, other available remedies.

If the Attorney General or any State's Attorney or a municipality with a population of more than 1,000,000 fails to bring an action as provided under this Section any person may file a civil action to enforce the provisions of this Article and maintain an action for injunctive relief, for compensatory damages to recover prohibited fees, or for such additional relief as may be appropriate to deter, prevent, or compensate for the violation.”

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL

Victims may contact the Attorney General’s Immigrant Assistance program. The Immigrant Assistance Program was established to ensure that state government is aware of the needs of Illinois' immigrant population and the barriers  which may prevent immigrants from seeking and obtaining government services. The Immigrant Assistance Program involves the coordination of the provision of services by the Office of the Attorney General and provision of referrals to other government agencies as appropriate. Information and complaint forms may be accessed here.

Liability may be found under the Consumer Fraud Act, accessible here.

Complaints may be filed in English or Spanish through the Illinois Attorney General, accessible here.

The Illinois State Bar also has a UPL Task Force that seeks out, identifies, and remedies injuries to the public and to the integrity of the profession caused by the unauthorized practice of law. To submit a complaint, contact the Task Force.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

Ineffective assistance of counsel can be reported to the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois here.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Office of Attorney General:

Illinois Attorney General Consumer Fraud Bureau
500 South Second Street
Springfield, IL 62706
217-782-1090

If sending complaint in Spanish, send to:

Illinois Attorney General Consumer Protection Division
100 West Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60601

Illinois State Bar Association:

Attention: Task Force on Unauthorized Practice of Law
Illinois Bar Center

424 South Second Street

Springfield, IL 62701-1779

Tel: (800) 252-8908 or (217) 525-1760

Fax: (217) 525-9063               

 

Becoming a Notary Public

An applicant for an appointment must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence
  • Be a resident of the State of Illinois for at least 30 days
  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Be able to read and write the English language
  • Have not been convicted of a felony
  • Have not had a notary commission revoked during the past 10 years.

The application may be accessed here.

The Secretary of State has a search tool of recently issued commissions or to locate any current Illinois notary, which can be accessed here.

INDIANA

 

UPL Statute Summary

Indiana Code §33-43-2-1, Engaging in Practice by Person Not Admitted

  • A person who:
  1. professes to be a practicing attorney;
   
  2. conducts the trial of a case in a court in Indiana; or
 
  3. engages in the business of a practicing lawyer;
 without first having been admitted as an attorney by the supreme court commits a Class B misdemeanor. 
As added by P.L.98-2004, SEC.22.

 

Licensing Agency UPIL Awareness

The Secretary of State Office seems to be aware of the issue of UPL as it has put the following advice on its Frequently Asked Questions page:

Q. May a notary give legal advice or draft legal documents? 


A. No. Unless the notary also is an attorney, the notary cannot act as a legal advisor and cannot prepare legal documents. For example, if a document does not contain a notarial certificate, the notary public cannot advise as to the proper type of notarization. An attorney should be consulted as to the proper notarization that is required for the document (acknowledgment, witnessing or verification).

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPIL

The Secretary of State has a Notary Complaint form, which can be accessed here.

Liability may also be found under the Deceptive Consumer Sales Act.  Complaints can be filed with the Attorney General’s office. Complaint forms in English and Spanish may be accessed here.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

Ineffective assistance of counsel can be reported to the Indiana Courts here.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Notary Public Information:

Business Services Division 

302 W. Washington Street
Room E018

Indianapolis, IN 46204
Tel: 317-232-6576

Attorney General’s Office:

Attorney General Greg Zoeller
Consumer Protection Division
Government Center South, 5th floor
302 West Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Tel: 317-232-6330
FAX: 317-233-4393

 

Becoming a Notary Public

One must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Be a legal resident of the State of Indiana
  • Not have served a jail sentence of 6 months or more
  • File the notary application, along with a $10 application fee and proof of a notarial bond, with the secretary of state’s office.
  • The application can be accessed here.

The Secretary of State has an online tool to search for current notary public commissions. The tool can be accessed here.

IOWA

 

UPL Statute Summary

Iowa Court Rule 37. Commission on the Unauthorized Practice of Law

37.1(1) There is created a commission for the abatement of the unauthorized practice of law, which shall be known as the Commission on the Unauthorized Practice of Law. This commission shall comprise seven lawyer members and two nonlawyer members who shall be appointed by the supreme court. The supreme court shall accept nominations for appointment to the commission from any association of lawyers which maintains an office within the state of Iowa or any attorney licensed in Iowa. The court shall designate annually one lawyer commission member to be the chair. Members shall serve no more than three three-year terms, and a member who has served three full terms shall not be eligible for reappointment. The commission shall receive complaints and make investigations with respect to the alleged unauthorized practice of law within this state.

37.2(1) If the commission has reasonable cause to believe that any person who has not been admitted to practice law within this state is engaging in the practice of law or holding out to the public that the person is qualified to provide services constituting the practice of law in this state, the commission may file a verified complaint with the clerk of the district court in any county in which the unauthorized practice is alleged to have occurred.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPIL

Victims may contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division. You may download or fill out an online form here.

Liability may be found under Iowa Consumer Fraud Act, accessible here.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

Ineffective assistance of counsel information can be found here.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Secretary of State:

Secretary of State
Notary Division
Lucas Building, 1st Floor
321 E. 12th Street
Des Moines, IA 50319
Tel: (515) 281-5204
Fax: (515) 242-5953

Iowa Attorney General:

Iowa Attorney General 

Consumer Protection Division 

1305 E. Walnut Street 

Des Moines IA 50319 

Tel: 515-281-5926 

Toll Free: 1-888-777-4590

Fax: 515-281-6771

 

Becoming a Notary Public

To be a notary a person a person must:

  • Be at least 18 years old;
  • Be a citizen or permanent resident of the U.S.;
  • Not be disqualified to be a notary under Iowa Code section 9B.23;
  • Be a resident of the state of Iowa or a resident of a state bordering Iowa if their place of work or business is in Iowa;
  • Be able to read and write English; and
  • File an application, submit an Oath of Office, and a $30.00 filing fee with the Secretary of State.

The Secretary of State has an online tool to search for current notary public commissions. The tool can be accessed here.

KANSAS

 

UPL Statute Summary

Kansas Statute Ann. §21-5917. False impersonation; aggravated false impersonation.

  • a) False impersonation is representing oneself to be a public officer, public employee or a person licensed to practice or engage in any profession or vocation for which a license is required by the laws of the state of Kansas, with knowledge that such representation is false.
  • b) Aggravated false impersonation is falsely representing or impersonating another and in such falsely assumed character: 
  1. Becoming bail or security, or acknowledging any recognizance, or executing any bond or other instrument as bail or security, for any party in any proceeding, civil or criminal, before any court or officer authorized to take such bail or security;
  2. Confessing any judgment;
  3. Acknowledging the execution of any conveyance of property, or any other instrument which by law may be recorded; or
  4. Doing any other act in the course of a suit, proceeding or prosecution whereby the person who is represented or impersonated may be made liable to the payment of any debt, damages, costs or sum of money, or such person’s rights or interests may be in any manner affected. 
  • c)    
  1. False impersonation is a class B nonperson misdemeanor.
  2. Aggravated false impersonation is a severity level 9, nonperson felony.

Complaints may be filed with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division. A complaint may be filed online here.  

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

Ineffective assistance of counsel information can be found here.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Notary Public Administration:

Kansas Secretary of State
Memorial Hall, 1st Floor
120 S.W. 10th Avenue
Topeka, KS 66612-1594
Tel: (785) 296-4564

Office of Attorney General:

Attorney General Derek Schmidt
Consumer Protection Division
120 SW 10th Ave, 2nd Floor
Topeka, KS 66612-1597
Tel: (785) 296-2215

 

Becoming a Notary Public

An applicant for an appointment must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Live in the state of Kansas or live in a border state and regularly conduct business or is regularly employed in Kansas,
  • Not have been convicted of a felony or have had a professional license revoked.
  • Obtain a good and sufficient bond to the state of Kansas in the sum of $7,000.
  • Pay $25 application fee

The application may be accessed here.

KENTUCKY

 

UPL Statute Summary

Kentucky Revised Statutes §524.130, Unauthorized practice of law.

  1. Except as provided in KRS 341.470 and subsection (2) of this section, a person is guilty of unlawful practice of law when, without a license issued by the Supreme Court, he engages in the practice of law, as defined by rule of the Supreme Court.
  2. A licensed nonresident attorney in good standing, although not licensed in Kentucky, is not guilty of unlawful practice if, in accordance with rules adopted by the Supreme Court, he practices law under specific authorization of a court.
  3. Unlawful practice of law is a Class B misdemeanor.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPIL

Victims may file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit under the Kentucky Consumer Protection Act. The complaint form can be accessed here. The website can be accessed here.

One may also file a complaint with the Kentucky State Bar Association. A complaint form may be accessed here. By Supreme Court Rule, all complaints against lawyers must be made in writing and must be notarized.  No complaints can be accepted by e-mail, fax or telephone. Although it is not required that a complaint be on the KBA form, there is a form available.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

Ineffective assistance of counsel information can be found here.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Secretary of State:

Notary Commissions

P.O. Box 821

Frankfort, KY 40602-0821
Tel: (502) 564-3490
Fax: (502) 564-5687

Attorney General:

Office of Attorney General
Consumer Protection Division
310 Whittington Parkway, Suite 101
Louisville, KY 40222
Tel: (502) 429-7134
Fax: (502) 429-7129
Hotline: (888) 432-9257

Kentucky Bar Association:

Office of Bar Counsel
514 West Main Street
Frankfort, KY 40601-1812

 

Becoming a Notary Public

Before submitting an application for a new notary commission be sure you meet the following qualifications:

  • Be 18 years of age
  • Be a resident of or principally employed in the county from which he/she makes application
  • Be of good moral character and capable of discharging the duties imposed upon him/her by law.

To apply for a Kentucky Notary Public State at Large appointment or reappointment, download the form and return it with a $10.00 fee made payable to Kentucky State Treasurer to:

Notary Commissions

P.O. Box 821
Frankfort, KY 40602-0821

The Secretary of State also has an online tool to search current notary commissions, accessible here.

LOUISIANA

 

UPL Statute Summary

Louisiana Revised Statutes §37:213,

  1. No natural person, who has not first been duly and regularly licensed and admitted to practice law by the supreme court of this state, no corporation or voluntary association except a professional law corporation organized pursuant to Chapter 8 of Title 12 of the Revised Statutes, and no partnership or limited liability company except one formed for the practice of law and composed of such natural persons, corporations, voluntary associations, or limited liability companies, all of whom are duly and regularly licensed and admitted to the practice of law, shall:
    1. Practice law.
    2. Furnish attorneys or counsel or an attorney and counsel to render legal services.
    3. Hold himself or itself out to the public as being entitled to practice law.
    4. Render or furnish legal services or advice.
    5. Assume to be an attorney at law or counselor at law.
    6. Assume, use, or advertise the title of lawyer, attorney, counselor, advocate or equivalent terms in any language, or any phrase containing any of these titles in such manner as to convey the impression that he is a practitioner of law.
    7. In any manner advertise that he, either alone or together with any other person, has, owns, conducts, or maintains an office of any kind for the practice of law.
  2. This Section does not prevent any corporation or voluntary association formed for benevolent or charitable purposes and recognized by law from furnishing an attorney at law to give free assistance to persons without means.
  3. Any natural person who violates any provision of this Section shall be fined not more than one thousand dollars or imprisoned for not more than two years, or both.
  4. Any partnership, corporation, or voluntary association which violates this Section shall be fined not more than five thousand dollars. Every officer, trustee, director, agent, or employee of a corporation or voluntary association who, directly or indirectly, engages in any act violating any provision of this Section or assists the corporation or voluntary association in the performance of any such violation is subject to the penalties prescribed in this Section for violations by a natural person.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPIL

Victims may file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit under the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law. The complaint form and instructions can be downloaded here.

One may also file a complaint with the Louisiana State Bar Association. Per its website:

“The mission of the Public Access and Consumer Protection Committee shall be to protect the public from incompetent or fraudulent activities by those who are unauthorized to practice law or who are otherwise misleading those in need of legal services.”

The Public Access and Consumer Protection Committee’s contact information can be found here in order to obtain information about filing a complaint.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

Ineffective assistance of counsel information can be found here.

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Secretary of State:

Notary Division

8585 Archives Ave.
Baton Rouge, LA 70809

Tel: 225.922.0507

Fax: 225.932.5359

Attorney General:

Office of the Attorney General
Consumer Protection Section
P.O. Box 94005
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9005
Fax: (225) 326-6499

Louisiana Bar Association:

Louisiana State Bar Association
601 St. Charles Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70130
Tel: (800) 421-LSBA(5722)
Tel: (504) 566-1600

 

Becoming a Notary Public

To become an applicant, you are required to complete an Application to Qualify. To qualify, you must: 

  • Be registered to vote in the parish in which you seek commission;
  • Be a resident citizen or alien of this state;
  • Not have been convicted of a felony and not been pardoned; 
  • Be able to read, write, speak and be sufficiently knowledgeable of the English language;
  • Be 18 years of age or older; and
  • Hold a high school diploma, a diploma for completion of a home study program approved by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education or a high school equivalency diploma issued after successfully completing the test of General Educational Development.

Once you have completed the Application to Qualify, you will receive an applicant ID and an access code to enable you to register online to take the state notary examination. The deadline to get your Application to Qualify and Examination Registration completed is 45 days prior to the exam

The Secretary of State also has an online tool to search current notary commissions, accessible here.

MAINE

 

UPL Statute Summary

 

Title 4 MRSA §807-B. Authorized immigration and nationality law assistance

  • Prohibits providers of immigration and nationality law assistance from stating that they will procure special favors from or has special influence with an agency or a tribunal of U.S. government or state government; retaining compensation for services not performed; refusing to return documents supplied by, prepared by, paid for by or obtained on behalf of the customer and requested by the customer, regardless of whether there is outstanding compensation owed to the provider of the immigration and nationality assistance; failing to complete and sign, in the space provided, an immigration form that requests the preparer’s information; providing legal advice regarding immigration and nationality law matters unless the provider is admitted to and in good standing before the bar of the State or is a federally authorized immigration representative; representing or advertising or providing notice in any way or manner that could cause a customer to believe that the provider of immigration and nationality assistance is authorized to practice law in the State unless the provider is an attorney admitted to and in good standing before the bar of the State or is a federally authorized immigration representative.
  • A violation of this section constitutes a civil violation for which a fine of not more than $5,000 may be adjudged.
  • Provides a civil right of action in the Superior Court against the violator.

 

Licensing Agency UPL Awareness

The Department of the Secretary of State for Maine appears to be aware of the UPIL. In their Notary Public Handbook and Resource Guide, they clearly state that Notaries Public may NOT practice law unless they are duly authorized members of the Maine Bar. In boldface type, the handbook states: “any advice given – no matter how clear or obvious it may appear – could be considered to be legal advice, and if anyone claims to have been misled by it, a lawsuit could result.” The handbook also states that a Notary Public should not draft a legal document.

The handbook also cites 4 MRSA §960, which requires Notaries Public who advertise notarial services in languages other than English, to include in the advertisement a notice that includes the following statement (in both English and in the language of the advertisement):

“I AM NOT AN ATTORNEY LICENSED TO PRACTICE LAW IN MAINE AND MAY NOT GIVE LEGAL ADVICE ABOUT IMMIGRATION OR ANY OTHER LEGAL MATTER OR ACCEPT FEES FOR LEGAL ADVICE.”

Furthermore, the handbook also mentions that any advertisement for notary services may not include a literal translation of the phrase “Notary Public” into any language other than English if the literal translation implies that the notary public is an attorney licensed to practice in Maine or in any other jurisdiction of the United States.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL

It does not appear like the Maine State Bar Association has an enforcement mechanism or complaint process for UPL.

Although the Board of Overseers of the Bar for the State of Maine has a Maine Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection, the fund is meant to reimburse clients who suffer losses caused by an attorney’s dishonest conduct, meaning that a UPL victim is unlikely to access such funds.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

To report ineffective assistance of counsel in Maine, one must contact the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar here.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Attorney General:

Website: http://www.maine.gov/ag/consumer/complaints/index.shtml
Thomas A. Hartnett Asst. Attorney General for Civil Rights Education & Enforcement and Director of the Civil Rights Team Project
Office of the Attorney General
6 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333
Tel: (207) 626-8849 or 1-800-436-2131

Instructions to File a Complaint:

Write a letter to the following address:
Attorney General’s Consumer Information & Mediation Service
6 State House Station
Augusta, Maine 04333

Call the Consumer Information & Mediation Service 9:00am – 12:00pm and 1:00pm – 4:00pm, Monday – Friday at the numbers listed above.

Email the Attorney General’s Office at consumer.mediation@maine.gov, including name, address and phone number.

 

Becoming a Notary Public

  • Must be a resident of Maine, or a resident of New Hampshire who is regularly employed, or carries on a trade or business, in Maine. 
  • Must be at least 18 years old.
  • Must demonstrate proficiency in the English language.
  • Must not have a notary commission revoked or suspended for official misconduct in Maine or any other jurisdiction during the 5-year period preceding the date of application.
  • Must not have been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for one year or more, or of a lesser offense incompatible with the duties of a notary public during the 10-year period preceding the date of application for a new or renewed commission.
  • Must complete a written exam prescribed by the Secretary of State.
  • Must be recommended by a registered Maine voter who can attest to the applicant’s ability to perform the duties required of a notary public.
  • Fill out the Notary application, found here.
  • The Municipal Clerk or Registrar of Voters of the applicant’s municipality must also verify the applicant’s residency by signing and sealing the application form.

The applicant must then turn in the Notary application, along with the $50 application fee, to the Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions, Notary Public Section.

Upon receiving the commission, the applicant must be sworn into office before a Dedimus Justice in Maine.

The Department of the Secretary of State maintains a Notary Public & Dedimus Justice online search service, which can be found here. The search service allows you to search for active Notaries Public and results will include the name, town, county, telephone numbers, and commission expiration date for each notary public meeting your search criteria.

MARYLAND

 

UPL Statute Summary

 

MD Business Occupations & Professions Code Ann. §10-601. Unauthorized practice of law

  1. Except as otherwise provided by law, a person may not practice, attempt to practice, or offer to practice law in the State unless admitted to the Bar.
  2. While an individual is on inactive status or disbarred or while the individual’s right to practice law is suspended or revoked, the individual may:
  1. discharge existing obligations;
  2. collect and distribute accounts receivable; or
  3. perform any other act that is necessary to conclude the affairs of a law practice but that does not constitute practicing law.
  1. It is not a defense to a charge of a violation of this section that the defendant acted through an officer, director, partner, trustee, agent, or employee who is a lawyer.

MD Business Occupations & Professions code Ann. §10-602.   

Unless authorized by law to practice law in the State, a person may not represent to the public, by use of a title, including "lawyer", "attorney at law", or "counselor at law", by description of services, methods, or procedures, or otherwise, that the person is authorized to practice law in the State.

2015 Maryland Code Commercial Law. Title 14 - Miscellaneous Consumer Protection Provisions. Subtitle 33 - Maryland Immigration Consultant's Act
 

The Maryland Immigration Consultant’s Act protects victims of notario fraud or the unauthorized practice of law through consumer protection. The act applies to anyone who is not a Maryland licensed attorney, a Maryland clinical student, or a nonprofit representative under 8 CFR § 292. The act applies to attorneys who have been suspended or stripped of their bar license. An immigration consultant, as defined under the act must post a sign, in a conspicuous location at each of their places of business, that states, “I am not an attorney licensed to practice law in Maryland, and may not provide legal forms, provide legal advice, or provide legal services.”

§14-3303. Prohibited activities of immigration consultant. An immigration consultant may not:

(1) Provide legal advice or legal services concerning an immigration matter;

(2) Make a misrepresentation or false statement to influence, persuade, or encourage a client to use services provided by the immigration consultant;

(3) Make a statement that the immigration consultant can or will obtain special favors from or has special influence with the United States Department of Homeland Security, the United States Department of Labor, the United States Department of State, the United States Department of Justice, or the United States Department of Commerce;

(4) Collect any fees or other compensation for services not yet performed;

(5) Refuse to return documents supplied by, prepared by, or paid for by a client, at the client's request; or

(6) Represent, advertise, or communicate in any manner that the immigration consultant possesses titles or credentials that would qualify the immigration consultant to provide legal advice or legal services.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL

Victims may contact the Consumer Protection Section of the Office of Attorney General.  You may file a complaint online.

Victims may also contact the Howard County Office of Consumer Affairs, here, or the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection, here.

Victims may also contact the Attorney Grievance Commission using this page.

Liability may be found under the Consumer Protection Act, accessible here.

 

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

To report ineffective assistance of counsel in Maryland, contact the Attorney Grievance Commission using this page.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Notary Administration:

Notary Division
Office of the Secretary of State
State House
Annapolis, MD 21401

Office of Attorney General:

Office of Maryland Attorney General
Consumer Protection Division
200 St. Paul Place
Baltimore, MD 21202
Tel: 410-576-6550                  

 

Becoming a Notary Public

  • Must be 18 years of age
  • Of known good character, integrity and abilities
  • Live or work in the State of Maryland
  • Pay a $20.00 non-refundable processing fee.
  • Must apply to the probate judge for your county. 

The application may be accessed here.

The Secretary of State has a search tool of recently issued commissions or to locate any current Maryland notary, which can be accessed here.

MASSACHUSETTS

 

UPL Statute Summary

 

ALM GL Ch. 221 § 46A, Practice of law; persons authorized

No individual, other than a member, in good standing, of the bar of this commonwealth shall practice law, or, by word, sign, letter, advertisement or otherwise, hold himself out as authorized, entitled, competent, qualified or able to practice law; provided, that a member of the bar, in good standing, of any other state may appear, by permission of the court, as attorney or counselor, in any case pending therein, if such other state grants like privileges to members of the bar, in good standing, of this commonwealth.

ALM GL Ch. 222 §17, Notaries public not licensed to practice law; prohibition from offering legal advice or advertisement as legal specialist; immigration matters; real estate closings.

  • Notaries public are prohibited from offering legal advice, compiling evidence for applications being made to any governmental agency, assisting in any immigration related matters unless they first advise, in writing that:
    • They are not an attorney licensed to practice law
    • They may not give legal advice or advise about immigration policies or procedures
    • The client should seek the advice of an attorney.
  • Notaries public shall not engage in the practice of law.
  • Notaries public shall not conduct a real-estate closing or act as a real estate agent.

 

Licensing Agency UPL Awareness

The Secretary of State’s office seems to be well aware of the possibility of notary misconduct.  There was an Executive Order, which outlines the duties, misconduct, and requirements of notary publics.  The Order may be accessed here

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL

Victims may file a complaint with the AGO’s Public Inquiry and Assistance Center under the Regulation of Business Practices legislation, accessible here.

If the complaint is one with which the AGO’s may be able to assist you, a mediator will contact you before they attempt to contact the business, in the AGO's effort to resolve your complaint through mediation. These mediations are conducted over the phone. In mediation, a neutral third-party, the mediator, helps you and the other party try to resolve the problem through facilitated dialogue. However, it is up to you and the other party to reach an agreement.

One may file a complaint here.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

To report ineffective assistance of counsel in Massachusetts, you much contact the Attorney and Consumer Assistance Program (ACAP) here.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Notary Public Information:

Notary Public Office
Room 184, State House
Boston, MA 02133

Attorney General:

Office of the Attorney General

Public Inquiry and Assistance Center

One Ashburton Place, 18th Floor

Boston, MA 02108
Tel: (671) 727-8400

 

Becoming a Notary Public

A person qualified for a notary public commission shall:

  • Be at least 18 years of age; and
  • Reside legally or conduct business on a regular basis within in Massachusetts.
  • In the Governor's discretion, an application may be denied based on:
    • submission of an official application containing a material misstatement or omission of fact;
    • the applicant's felony conviction or misdemeanor conviction that resulted in a prison sentence;
    • the applicant's conviction of a misdemeanor with probation or a fine, or conviction for drunk driving;
    • the applicant's admission of facts sufficient to warrant a finding of guilt of any crime;
    • a finding or admission of liability against the applicant in a civil lawsuit based on the applicant’s deceit;
    • revocation, suspension, restriction, or denial of a notarial commission or professional license by this or any other state; or
    • any other reasons that, within the Governor's discretion, would make the applicant unsuitable to hold the commission as a notary public.

The application may be accessed here.

MICHIGAN

 

UPL Statute Summary

From the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Website:

The Immigration Clerical Assistant Act, Public Act 161 of 2004, was enacted to insure that when the public requires use of an individual to assist them with certain immigration matters they have a listing of bonded and qualified individuals from which to choose. These individuals are called "Immigration Clerical Assistants."

"Immigration clerical assistant" is defined as any individual providing or offering to provide services, for compensation, relating to any immigration matter.

"Immigration matter" is defined as any matter affecting the immigrant status, nonimmigrant status, or citizenship status of any individual and includes, but is not limited to, federal or state administrative or court proceedings or the filing of accompanying documents in those proceedings or both.

You must be listed with the department as an Immigration Clerical Assistant (ICA) in order to operate as such. However, the following are exempt from the act and do not require listing as an ICA with the department:

  • An attorney at law licensed to practice law in the United States and his or her legal and other support staff working under his or her direct supervision.
  • A law student or law school graduate not yet admitted to the bar that is supervised by a licensed attorney to practice law in the United States.
  • A reputable individual who has a personal, family, or business relationship with the individual subject to the immigration matter and is engaged in an immigration matter for that individual without compensation.
  • A nonprofit religious, charitable, social service, or similar organization recognized by the board of immigration appeals, and any individual representing such an organization who has been accredited by the board of immigration appeals.
  • Any individual representing an organization who performs only the following services in an immigration matter: Translating documents from a language other than English into English; Notarizing signatures; Referring consumers to attorneys; Taking or arranging for the taking of photographs or fingerprints; Arranging for medical testing and assisting with obtaining medical examination results; Conducting English language and civics courses for consumers; Conducting educational or experiential evaluations for consumers.
  • A translation business that meets certain criteria.

For complete details refer to the Immigration Clerical Assistant Act.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPIL

Complaints can be filed with the AGO’s Consumer Protection division. Complaints may be filed online or printed and mailed. Forms may be accessed here.

Victims may also file a complaint with the State Bar Association. The form is available here.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

To report ineffective assistance of counsel in Michigan, one must send in a request for investigation through the Attorney Grievance Commission here.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Attorney General’s Office:

Consumer Protection Division
P.O. Box 30213
Lansing, MI 48909-7713 
Tel: (517) 373-1140
Fax: (517) 241-3771

Notary Public Information:

Michigan Department of State

Office of the Great Seal

7064 Crowner Blvd.

Lansing, MI 48918
Tel: (888) 767-6424

Michigan State Bar Association:

State Bar of Michigan
Unauthorized Practice of Law Department
360 Townsend St.
Lansing, MI 48933

 

Becoming a Notary Public

Applicants must meet the following qualifications:

  • Be at least 18 years old;
  • Be a Michigan resident or maintain a place of business in Michigan;
  • Be a U.S. citizen or possess proof of legal presence;
  • Be a resident of the county in which you request appointment (if you do not reside in Michigan, maintain a principal place of business in the county you request appointment);
  • Read and write in the English language;
  • Be free of any felony convictions within the past 10 years (if previously convicted of a felony, the 10-year period includes completion of the sentence for that crime, any term of imprisonment, parole, or probation, and payment of all fines, costs, and assessments);
  • Have not been convicted of 2 or more misdemeanor offenses involving a violation of the Michigan Notary Public Act within a 12-month period while commissioned, or 3 or more misdemeanor offenses involving a violation of this Act within a 5-year period regardless of being commissioned;
  • Have filed with the appropriate county clerk a proper surety bond in the amount of $10,000 and taken the oath of office as prescribed by the State Constitution;
  • Sign a declaration that all information on your application for Michigan Notary Public Commission is correct, that you have read the Michigan Notary Public Act, and that you will perform all notarial acts faithfully;

Any individual currently serving a term of imprisonment in any state, county or federal correctional facility is prohibited from being appointed or serving as a notary public.

The Secretary of State has an online lookup tool where you may search for licensed notaries here.

MINNESOTA

 

UPL Statute Summary

Minn. Stat. §481.02, Unauthorized Practice of Law

  • Subdivision 1 lists the specific prohibitions, such as to hold oneself out as competent or qualified to give legal advice or counsel, to prepare legal documents, to engage in advising or counseling in law or act as an attorney, or to give legal advice or counsel for a fee or any consideration
  • Subdivision 8 provides the penalties and remedies available for violations of the statue. Violators are guilty of a misdemeanor. County attorneys are duty-bound to prosecute violations of this statute. County attorneys and the Attorney General also have the option to proceed with an injunction suit against violators.

Minn. Stat. §8.31 subd. 3, Additional Duties of Attorney General

  • Also creates a private cause of action, with the possibility of recovering damages, together with costs and disbursements, including costs of investigation and reasonable attorney’s fees, and receiving other equitable relief (including injunctions) as determined by a court.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPIL

The MN state bar association provides some structure to the complaint process. It has a form that can be printed and mailed. The form is provided in five languages. One can also file the form online (though only in English). The website can be found here.

A complaint form can be accessed here. Unfortunately, the form is only available in English.

Minnesota does provide for a process to claim reparations, but only to victims of violent crimes. There is a separate process for emergency situations that perhaps could be taken advantage of by notario victims. There is an Emergency Fund Application form that one can print out and mail in. The website is here.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

To report ineffective assistance of counsel in Minnesota, one may submit a complaint in English, Hmong, Russian, Somali or Spanish from this page.

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

For UPL Complaints:

Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility
1500 Landmark Towers
345 St. Peter Street
St. Paul, MN 55102
(651) 296-3952
1-800-657-3601
Fax (651) 297-5801

Notary Administration:

Minnesota Secretary of State
Retirement Systems of MN Building
60 Empire Drive, Suite 100
St. Paul, MN 55103
Tel: 651-296-2803
Toll free: 1-977-551-6767 (Press Option 3)
Email: notary.sos@state.mn.us

 

Becoming a Notary Public

The method to become a notary can be found here. In essence, one must be 18 years old, a US citizen or LPR, reside or be employed in Minnesota or a bordering state and pay a $120 fee along with the application (plus a $20 fee for registering in one’s county).

Engaging in notarial duties without a commission in a misdemeanor. Minn. Stat. § 359.08.

Search for licensed notaries here.

MISSISSIPPI

 

UPL Statute Summary

Miss. Code Ann. § 73-3-55, Unlawful to practice law without license; certain abstract companies may certify titles

It shall be unlawful for any person to engage in the practice of law in this state who has not been licensed according to law. Any person violating the provisions of this section shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction, shall be punished in accordance with the provisions of Section 97-23-43. Any person who shall for fee or reward or promise, directly or indirectly, write or dictate any paper or instrument of writing, to be filed in any cause or proceeding pending, or to be instituted in any court in this state, or give any counsel or advice therein, or who shall write or dictate any bill of sale, deed of conveyance, deed of trust, mortgage, contract, or last will and testament, or shall make or certify to any abstract of title to real estate other than his own or in which he may own an interest, shall be held to be engaged in the practice of law. This section shall not, however, prevent title or abstract of title guaranty companies incorporated under the laws of this state from making abstract or certifying titles to real estate where it acts through some person as agent, authorized under the laws of the State of Mississippi to practice law; nor shall this section prevent any abstract company chartered under the laws of the State of Mississippi with a paid-up capital of Fifty Thousand Dollars ($ 50,000.00) or more from making or certifying to abstracts of title to real estate through the president, secretary or other principal officer of such company.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL

Victims may file a complaint under the Consumer Protection Act with the AG Office’s Consumer Protection Division. However, under Mississippi’s Consumer Protection Act, the Attorney General is allowed to sue only to prevent unfair and deceptive business practices occurring statewide or affecting large numbers of people. A complaint form may be downloaded here.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

To report ineffective assistance of counsel in Mississippi, one may submit a “request for assistance” to the Mississippi Bar Consumer Assistance Program here.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Notary Information:

Secretary of State – Business Services            
P. O. Box 1020

Jackson, MS 39215-1020

Toll-Free: 800-256-3494

Tel: 601-359-1615

Fax: 601-359-1607

Attorney General:

Office of Consumer Protection
Attorney general, State of MS
PO Box 22947
Jackson, Mississippi 39225-2947
Tel: (601) 359-4230
Fax: (601) 359-4231

 

Becoming a Notary Public

You must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a Mississippi resident for more than 30 days.
  • File an application with the Secretary of State.
  • Pay a $25 application fee.
  • File a $5,000 Surety Bond and the Oath of Office with the Secretary of State.
  • Obtain an official seal or stamp to affix to documents.
  • Comply with the statutes governing Mississippi Notary Acts, including but not limited to, maintaining a registry of all documents signed.

MISSOURI

 

UPL Statute Summary

Missouri Revised Statutes §486.390, Unauthorized practice of law by notary, remedy for.

  1. Upon his own information or upon complaint of any person, the attorney general, or his designee, may maintain an action for injunctive relief in the circuit court of Cole County against any notary public who renders, offers to render, or holds himself out as rendering any service constituting the unauthorized practice of the law. Any organized bar association in this state may intervene in the action, at any stage of the proceeding, for good cause shown. The action may also be maintained by an organized bar association in this state.
  2. The remedies provided in subsection 1 of this section are in addition to, and not in substitution for, other available remedies.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL

Liability may be established under Missouri Revised Statutes §407.020, accessible here. The statute states that acts using deception, fraud, false promise, misrepresentation, false pretense, etc. in connection with the sale or advertisement of any merchandise in trade or commerce and are subject to criminal sanctions. It is the duty of the prosecuting attorney and circuit attorney to commence criminal actions.

One may file a consumer protection complaint here.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

To report ineffective assistance of counsel in Missouri, one must submit a complaint to the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel, available here.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Attorney General Protection Division:

Attorney General’s Office
Consumer Protection Unit
Supreme Court Building, 207 W. High
PO Box 899
Jefferson, MO 65102
Tel: 573-751-3321
Toll Free: 800-393-8222

Notary Information:

Secretary of State
600 West Main Street
Jefferson City, MO 65101
Tel: 573-751-4936

 

Becoming a Notary Public

To be eligible to be a notary public in Missouri, one must:

  • Must be at least 18 years of age
  • Works in Missouri and will use the notary seal in the course of his employment in Missouri
  • Has a work address in the county within and for which he is commissioned
  • Is able to read and write English
  • Has not had a notary commission revoked in any state during the past ten years
  • Authorizes the secretary of state as the agent and representative of such person to accept service of any process or service of any notice or demand required or permitted by law to be served upon such person.

Application and application process may be accessed here.

MONTANA

 

UPL Statute Summary

Montana Code Ann. §37-61-210, Penalty for Practicing Without a License

  • If any person practices law in any court, except a justice's court or a city court, without having received a license as attorney and counselor, he is guilty of a contempt of court.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPIL

Victims may file a complaint with the Montana Department of Justice’s Office of Consumer Protection. One may file it online here, or by mail. The website can be accessed here.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

To report ineffective assistance of counsel in Montana, you must contact the Office of Disciplinary Counsel using this form.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Notary Public Information:

Notary and Certification Services
1236 6th Avenue
Helena, MT 58601
Tel: (406) 444-5379
Fax: (406) 444-4263

Attorney General’s Office:

Office of Consumer Protection
2225 11th Avenue
P.O. Box 200151
Helena, MT 59620-0151
Tel: (800) 481-6896 or (406) 444-4500

Fax: (406) 444-9680

E-mail: contactocp@mt.gov

 

Becoming a Notary Public

Before submitting an application for a new notary commission be sure you meet the following qualifications:

  • Are at least 18 years of age;
  • Have resided in the state of Montana for at least 30 days prior to applying;
  • Have never been convicted of a felony;
  • Have never had a notary commission denied, revoked, or restricted in any state;
  • Have satisfactorily completed certified training course.
  • Obtain a Notary Surety Bond in the amount of $10,000. These are available from most Montana insurance agents, as well as through various online providers. The cost for notary bonds varies, but usually is about $50 - $70 for the four-year term of the commission.
  • You also need to complete the Application, Statement, and Oath of Office for Appointment as a Notary Public.

The application can be accessed here.

NEBRASKA

 

UPL Statute Summary

Nebraska Revised Statutes, 64-105.03, Notary public, unauthorized practice of law; prohibited

  1. A notary public who is not an attorney shall not engage in the unauthorized practice of law as provided in this section.
  2. If notarial certificate wording is not provided or indicated for a document, a notary public who is not an attorney shall not determine the type of notarial act or certificate to be used.
  3. A notary public who is not an attorney shall not assist another person in drafting, completing, selecting, or understanding a document or transaction requiring a notarial act.
  4. A notary public who is not an attorney shall not claim to have powers, qualifications, rights, or privileges that the office of notary public does not provide, including the power to counsel on immigration matters.
  5. A notary public who is not an attorney and who advertises notarial services in a language other than English shall include in any advertisement, notice, letterhead, or sign a statement prominently displayed in the same language as follows: "I am not an attorney and have no authority to give advice on immigration or other legal matters".
  6. A notary public who is not an attorney may not use the term notario publico or any equivalent non-English term in any business card, advertisement, notice, or sign.
  7. This section does not preclude a notary public who is duly qualified, trained, or experienced in a particular industry or professional field from selecting, drafting, completing, or advising on a document or certificate related to a matter within that industry or field.
  8. A violation of any of the provisions of this section shall be considered the unauthorized practice of law and subject to the penalties provided in section 7-101.

Nebraska Revised Statutes, 7-101. Unauthorized practice of law; penalty.

Except as provided in section 7-101.01, no person shall practice as an attorney or counselor at law, or commence, conduct or defend any action or proceeding to which he is not a party, either by using or subscribing his own name, or the name of any other person, or by drawing pleadings or other papers to be signed and filed by a party, in any court of record of this state, unless he has been previously admitted to the bar by order of the Supreme Court of this state. No such paper shall be received or filed in any action or proceeding unless the same bears the endorsement of some admitted attorney, or is drawn, signed, and presented by a party to the action or proceeding. It is hereby made the duty of the judges of such courts to enforce this prohibition. Any person who shall violate any of the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a Class III misdemeanor, but this section shall not apply to persons admitted to the bar under preexisting laws.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPIL

Victims may file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division, under the Nebraska Deceptive Trade Practices Act, which may be accessed here.

The application is available in English or Spanish. One may complete the form online or mail it to:

Consumer Complaint Division

Attorney Generals Office

2115 State Capitol
Lincoln, NE 68509

One may also submit a complaint to the Nebraska Judicial Branch’s Commission on the Unauthorized Practice of Law. Contact information may be obtained here.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

To report ineffective assistance of counsel in Nebraska, you may file a grievance with the Counsel for Discipline using these instructions, or these instructions in Spanish.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Nebraska Secretary of State Notary Division:

Notary Division
P.O. Box 95104
Lincoln, NE 68509-5104

Nebraska Attorney General Office:

Consumer Complaint Division

Attorney General’s Office

2115 State Capitol
Lincoln, NE 68509

 

Becoming a Notary Public

Before you may become a notary public, you must meet the following qualifications:

  • Request a test from the Nebraska Secretary of States’ Office. Applicants are required to pass a written take-home test to obtain a notary public commission. The required test is only available through the Secretary of State’s office.
  • Complete the test without assistance from others and return the completed test to the Secretary of State’s Office. Once scored, you will received a letter indicating your test results. Upon passing the test, one must submit the following items:
    • Initial application
    • $15,000 surety bond
    • $30.00 commission fee
    • U.S. citizenship attestation form
    • Evidence of Employment in Nebraska form for non-residents
  • Submit application materials to:
    Notary Division
    P.O. Bos 95104
    Lincoln, NE 68509-5104

All application materials can be accessed here.

NEVADA

 

UPL Statute Summary

NRS 7.285. Unlawful practice of law; criminal penalties; initiation of civil action by State Bar of Nevada.

  1. A person shall not practice law in this state if the person:
    1. Is not an active member of the State Bar of Nevada or otherwise authorized to practice law in this state pursuant to the rules of the Supreme Court; or
    2.  Is suspended or has been disbarred from membership in the State Bar of Nevada pursuant to the rules of the Supreme Court.
  2. A person who violates any provision of subsection 1 is guilty of:
    1. For a first offense within the immediately preceding 7 years, a misdemeanor.
    2. For a second offense within the immediately preceding 7 years, a gross misdemeanor.
    3. For a third and any subsequent offense within the immediately preceding 7 years, a category E felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130.
  3. The State Bar of Nevada may bring a civil action to secure an injunction and any other appropriate relief against a person who violates this section. (Added to NRS by 1963, 385; A 1999, 1333)       

Mindful that the term “notario publico” is marketed to Hispanic residents in Nevada, advertising or communicating the provision of services to the public as a notary public in any form and in any other language than English requires that the following message also be conspicuously advertised:

I AM NOT AN ATTORNEY IN THE STATE OF NEVADA. I AM NOT LICENSED TO GIVE LEGAL ADVICE. I MAY NOT ACCEPT FEES FOR GIVING LEGAL ADVICE.

(NRS § 240.085, Sec. 2, added to NRS by 1983, 307; A 1985, 1206; 2005, 68). One violation results in at least a one year license suspension of the violator’s authorization by the Secretary of State, and a third violation results in revocation. Criminal prosecutions carry an additional fine of $1-2,000 under this section.

 

Licensing Agency UPL Awareness

The State Attorney general and Nevada Bar Counsel are aware that UPL is a problem in the state, and NRS §240A has created a private cause of action to address it. There remains uncertainty among the immigrant community, however, as to whether they are allowed to pursue these claims and whether it is safe to do so if their immigration status is fragile.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL

Under NRS §240A, complaints are made to the Nevada Secretary of State either through a designated telephone number or by online registration. Victims may file a complaint with the State Bar of Nevada here.  

The requirement of a $50,000 bond and a private right of action with attorney’s fees and double damages provides tangible incentives for enforcement through litigation. Given the continued federal policy of prosecutorial discretion, it is hoped that meritorious suits will not provide grounds for ICE action.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

State Bar of Nevada:

Southern NV:

State Bar of Nevada Office of Bar Counsel
600 E. Charleston Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89104
Tel: (702) 382-2200
Fax: (702) 382-8747

Northern NV:  

State Bar of Nevada Office of Bar Counsel
9456 Double R Blvd, Suite B
Reno, NV 89521
Tel: (775) 329-4100
Fax: (775) 329-0522
complaint@nvbar.org
www.nvbar.org

Secretary of State:

Nevada State Capitol Building
101 North Carson Street, Suite 3
Carson City, NV 89701
Phone: 775-684-5708
Fax: 775-684-5725
www.nvsos.gov                       

Office of the Attorney General:

Southern NV:  

Bureau of Consumer Protection
555 East Washington Ave, Suite 3900
Las Vegas, NV 89101
Fax: (702) 486 3283

Northern NV:  

Bureau of Consumer Protection          
100 North Carson St
Carson City, NV 89701
Fax: (775) 684 1100

Nevada Department of Business and Industry Consumer Affairs Division:

1850 East Sahara, Suite 101
Las Vegas, NV 89104
www.fyiconsumer.org

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

To report ineffective assistance of counsel in Nevada, you must use the instructions and complaint form from the State Bar of Nevada, available here.

 

Becoming a Notary Public

Before you may become a notary public, you must meet the following qualifications:

  • Be 18 years old
  • Be a US citizen or Legal Permanent Resident
  • Not be a felon
  • Take a four hour course of study required by the Secretary of State of Nevada
  • Pay a $35 registration fee
  • Acquire a surety bond of $10,000

The application process for becoming a notary public in Nevada can be accessed here.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

UPL Statute Summary

New Hampshire Revised Statute §311:7a, Petition for Injunction

  1. Upon the attorney general's own information or upon complaint of any person, including any judge or any organized bar association in this state, the attorney general may maintain an action for injunctive relief in the supreme or superior court against any person who renders, offers to render, or holds himself or herself out as rendering any service which constitutes the unauthorized practice of the law. Any organized bar association in this state may intervene in the action, at any stage of the proceeding, for good cause shown.
  2. The action may also be maintained by the bar association of the state of New Hampshire.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPIL

Victims may file a complaint with the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Consumer Protection and Antitrust section under the Regulation of Business Practices for Consumer Protection statute, which may be accessed here. You may submit a complaint electronically if you can provide all supporting documentation in a Word, Excel, or PDF format. If not, one may download a complaint form here and mail it.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

To report ineffective assistance of counsel in New Hampshire, follow the instructions from the New Hampshire Supreme Court here.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

New Hampshire Division of Consumer Affairs:

NH Department of Justice
33 Capitol Street
Concord, NH 03301
Tel: (603) 271-3658
Fax: (603) 271-2110

New Hampshire Notary Public Information:

State House
107 North Main Street
Concord, NH 03301
Tel: (603) 271-3242
Fax: (603) 271-6316

 

Becoming a Notary Public

Before submitting an application for a new notary commission be sure you meet the following qualifications:

  • Every person applying to become a notary public must be a resident of New Hampshire
  • You must be at least 18 years of age
  • The applicant must sign a written statement under oath as to whether he/she has ever been convicted of a crime that has not been annulled by a court, other than minor traffic violations
  • Two notaries public and one registered voter of New Hampshire must endorse the application fo appointment
  • The applicant must complete a State Police Records Check Form
  • The fee is $75 for a 5 year commission

The application is obtained from the Secretary of State's Office. You may request an application the following ways: Call 271-3242 OR mail your request in writing to Secretary of State's Office, State House, Room 204, Concord, N.H. 03301 OR email your request to elections@sos.nh.gov OR download the New Application and Criminal Release form here.

NEW JERSEY

 

UPL Statute Summary

N.J.S.A. 2C_2-22, Unauthorized practice of law, penalties

  1. A person is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree if the person knowingly engages in the unauthorized practice of law.
  2. A person is guilty of a crime of the third degree if the person knowingly engages in the unauthorized practice of law and:
    1. Creates or reinforces a false impression that the person is licensed to engage in the practice of law; or
    2. Derives a benefit; or
    3. In fact causes injury to another.
  3. For the purposes of this section, the phrase "in fact" indicates strict liability.

N.J.S.A. 2C:21-22a, Civil actions resulting from the unauthorized practice of law.


  1. Any person who suffers any ascertainable loss of moneys or property, real or personal, as a result of any action or inaction by a person who knowingly engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in violation of section 1 of P.L.1994, c.47 (C.2C:21-22) may bring a civil action in any court of competent jurisdiction.
  2. In any civil action under this section the court shall, in addition to any other appropriate legal or equitable relief, award damages in an amount that constitutes the greater of:
    1. $1,000, or
    2. Three times the value of all costs incurred by the victim as a result of the defendant's criminal activity, including any fees paid to the defendant for services, costs incurred for attorneys' fees, court costs and any out-of-pocket losses.
  3. The standard of proof in civil actions brought under this section is a preponderance of the evidence, and the fact that a prosecution for a violation of section 1 of P.L.1994, c.47 (C.2C:21-22) is not instituted or, where instituted, terminates without a conviction shall not preclude a civil action pursuant to this section. A final judgment rendered in favor of the State in any criminal proceeding shall estop the defendant from denying the same conduct in any civil action brought pursuant to this section.
  4. A civil action under this section shall not preclude the application of any other civil, administrative, or criminal remedy under any other provision of law.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPIL

Victims may file a complaint with the New Jersey Attorney General’s Division of Consumer Affairs under the Consumer Fraud Act, which may be accessed here.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

To report ineffective assistance of counsel in New Jersey, file a grievance after reading the instructions here (the link to the grievance form is also on this page).

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs:

124 Halsey Street
Newark, New Jersey 08102
Tel: (973) 504-6200
Fax: (973) 273-8035

New Jersey Notary Public Information:

Department of the Treasury
Notary Public Section
PO Box 452
Trenton, NJ 08646

 

Becoming a Notary Public

Before submitting an application for a new notary commission be sure you meet the following qualifications:

  • Are at least 18 years of age;
  • Are a resident of New Jersey or a resident of an adjoining state who maintains, or is regularly employed in, an office in this state.
  • Have never been convicted of a crime under the laws of any state or the United States for an offense involving dishonesty, or a crime of the first or second degree

The application can be accessed here.

NEW MEXICO

 

UPL Statute Summary

New Mexico Statutes, §14-12A-15, Unauthorized Practice of Law

  1. If notarial certificate wording is not provided or indicated for a document, a non-attorney notary public shall not determine the type of notarial act or certificate to be used.  
  2. A non-attorney notary public shall not assist another person in drafting, completing, selecting or understanding a document or transaction requiring a notarial act.  
  3. This section does not preclude a notary public who is duly qualified, trained or experienced in a particular industry or professional field from selecting, drafting, completing or advising on a document or certificate related to a matter within that industry or field.  
  4. A notary public shall not claim to have powers, qualifications, rights or privileges that the office of notary public does not provide, including the power to counsel on immigration matters.  
  5. A notary public shall not use the term "notario publico" or any equivalent non-English term in any business card, advertisement, notice or sign.  

 

Licensing Agency UPIL Awareness

The Secretary of State’s office states on the same page as the notary application that a notary public may be removed from office by the Governor if he engages in the unauthorized practice of law.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPIL

Victims of Notario Fraud can download a complaint form from the Consumer and Protection Division here and mail it to:

Consumer Protection Division
P.O. Drawer 1508
Santa Fe, NM 87504

Submit two copies of the complete complaint form and two copies of any supporting documents. Use either black in or a typewriter.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

To report an attorney for ineffective assistance of counsel, contact the Disciplinary Board of the New Mexico Supreme Court here.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Office of the Attorney General:

Consumer Protection Division
P.O. Drawer 1508
Santa Fe, NM 87504
Tel: (505) 827-6000
Fax: (505) 827-5826

Notary Information:

Secretary of State
325 Don Gaspar
Suite 300
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Tel: (505) 827-3614

 

Becoming a Notary Public

A person applying to be a Notary Public must:

  • Be a resident of New Mexico
  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Be able to read and write the English language
  • Not have plead guilty or nolo contendre to a felony or been convicted of a felony; and
  • Not have had a Notary Public commission revoked during the past five years
  • Download the notary application and instructions
  • Order a seal or rubber stamp from an office supply store.

NEW YORK

 

UPL Statute Summary

New York has a section of statute dedicated to “immigration services providers” (ISPs) (General Business §460-a - 460j) which prohibits notarios from acting as a lawyer or holding themselves out as able to conduct legal services. Specifically, immigration services providers may not use the titles “notary public” (unless they are notary publics), “accredited representative of the Board of Immigration Appeals,” “notario publico,” “notario,” “immigration specialist,” “immigration consultant,” or similar. ISPs also cannot give advice on the determination of a person’s immigration status, including advising him or her as to answers on a government form regarding such determination. N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law §460-d, e.

Full text of the statutes can be accessed here.

§460-h. Enforcement.

Upon any violation of this article, an application may be made by the attorney general in the name of the people of the state to a court having jurisdiction to issue an injunction, and upon notice to the respondent of not fewer than five days, to enjoin and restrain the continuance of the violation. If it shall appear to the satisfaction of the court or justice that the defendant has, in fact, violated this article, an injunction may be issued by such court or justice, enjoining and restraining any further violation, without requiring proof that any person has, in fact, been injured or damaged thereby. In any such proceeding, the court may make allowances to the attorney general as provided in paragraph six of subdivision (a) of section eighty-three hundred three of the civil practice law and rules, and direct restitution. Whenever the court shall determine that a violation of this article has occurred, the court may impose a civil penalty of not more than seven thousand five hundred dollars for each violation.

§460-i. Violations.

Any violation of any provision of this article shall be a class A misdemeanor, and upon conviction the court may orders part of the sentence imposed restitution or reparation to the victim of the crime pursuant to section 60.27 of the penal law.

The New York Penal Code also punishes “immigration assistance services fraud:”

NY Penal Law §190.87

A person is guilty of immigrant assistance services fraud in the second degree when, with intent to defraud another person seeking immigrant assistance services, as defined in article twenty-eight-C of the general business law, from such person, he or she violates section four hundred sixty-d of the general business law with intent to obtain property from such other person by false or fraudulent pretenses, representations or promises, and thereby wrongfully obtains such property.

NY Penal Law §190.89

A person is guilty of immigrant assistance services fraud in the first degree when, with intent to defraud another person seeking immigrant assistance services, as defined in article twenty-eight-C of the general business law, from such person, he or she violates section four hundred sixty-d of the general business law with intent to obtain property from such other person by false or fraudulent pretenses, representations or promises, and thereby wrongfully obtains such property with a value in excess of one thousand dollars.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPIL

The process involves filling out an online complaint, stopping by a regional office of the OAG, or calling the Bureau of Civil Rights (which can only translate for Spanish). An investigation may take place only if there are multiple victims. Also, since it is basically a consumer protection statute, it only offers civil relief and damages that don't reflect the actual harm to the immigration. However, if they can get the offender for being a fake lawyer, they kick it over to Special Prosecutions and presumably use Judiciary Law § 478 or something like that for criminal penalties, or if they can get them for grand larceny.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

To report ineffective assistance of counsel in New York, review this instruction page; there is information for each county/judicial district.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Notary Public Information:

NYS Department of State
Division of Licensing Services
P.O. Box 22001
Albany, NY 12201-2001
Customer Service: (518) 474-4429

Attorney General’s Office:

Civil Rights Bureau
New York State Attorney General's Office
120 Broadway
New York, NY 10271
Tel: (212)-416-8250
Fax: (212) 416-8074

 

Becoming a Notary Public

To become a notary public in New York, one must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a resident or employed in New York
  • Submit to the Division of Licensing Services an original application and $60 fee.
  • Submit a "pass slip" showing that the applicant has taken and passed the notary public examination.

NORTH CAROLINA

 

UPL Statute Summary

N.C.G.S. §84-4. Persons other than members of State Bar prohibited from practicing law.

Except as otherwise permitted by law, it shall be unlawful for any person or association of persons, except active members of the Bar of the State of North Carolina admitted and licensed to practice as attorneys-at-law, to appear as attorney or counselor at law in any action or proceeding before any judicial body, including the North Carolina Industrial Commission, or the Utilities Commission; to maintain, conduct, or defend the same, except in his own behalf as a party thereto; or, by word, sign, letter, or advertisement, to hold out himself, or themselves, as competent or qualified to give legal advice or counsel, or to prepare legal documents, or as being engaged in advising or counseling in law or acting as attorney or counselor-at-law, or in furnishing the services of a lawyer or lawyers; and it shall be unlawful for any person or association of persons except active members of the Bar, for or without a fee or consideration, to give legal advice or counsel, perform for or furnish to another legal services, or to prepare directly or through another for another person, firm or corporation, any will or testamentary disposition, or instrument of trust, or to organize corporations or prepare for another person, firm or corporation, any other legal document. Provided, that nothing herein shall prohibit any person from drawing a will for another in an emergency wherein the imminence of death leaves insufficient time to have the same drawn and its execution supervised by a licensed attorney-at-law. The provisions of this section shall be in addition to and not in lieu of any other provisions of this Chapter. Provided, however, this section shall not apply to corporations authorized to practice law under the provisions of Chapter 55B of the General Statutes of North Carolina. (1931, c. 157, s. 1; 1937, c. 155, s. 1; 1955, c. 526, s. 1; 1969, c. 718, s. 19; 1981, c. 762, s. 3; 1995, c. 431, s. 4.)

N.C.G.S. §84.8. Punishment for violations.

(a) Any person, corporation, or association of persons violating any of the provisions of G.S. 84-4 through G.S. 84-6 or G.S. 84-9 shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

(b) No person shall be entitled to collect any fee for services performed in violation of G.S. 84-4 through G.S. 84-6, G.S. 84-9, or G.S. 84-10.1. (1931, c. 157, s. 5; c. 347; 1993, c. 539, s. 597; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c); 2007-200, s. 3; 2011-336, s. 4.)

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL

The Authorized Practice Committee of the North Carolina State Bar handles complaints regarding unauthorized practice of law. Complaints must be in writing, and must describe with particularly what the individual did the comprised the unauthorized practiced law.

The staff counsel for the Authorized Practice Committee is David Johnson. You can reach him at:

North Carolina State Bar
PO Box 25908

Raleigh, NC 27611-5908
(919) 828-4620
djohnson@ncbar.gov

The AP Committee’s counsel will conduct an investigation. This begins by contacting the individual, advising her of the complaint, and requesting a response. When the investigation is complete he will turn over a report and recommendation to the Committee at one of their quarterly meetings. The Committee will render a decision, usually a letter of caution or to cease and desist in the first instance.

District Attorney

Another avenue is to complain directly to the district attorney. N.C.G.S. §84-7 says “The district attorney of any of the superior courts shall, upon the application of any member of the Bar, or of any bar association, of the State of North Carolina, bring such action in the name of the State as may be proper to enjoin any such person, corporation, or association of persons who it is alleged are violating the provisions of G.S. 84-4 to 84-8, and it shall be the duty of the district attorneys of this State to indict any person, corporation, or association of persons upon the receipt of information of the violation of the provisions of G.S. 84-4 to 84-8.” This language appears to require action by the DA after receipt of a complaint.

If the notario has charged in excess of $1,000, the DA can also pursue a felony charge of obtaining property by false pretenses.

Secretary of State: Notary Enforcement

If the notario is actually a commissioned notary, or is advertising as a notary, report him to the Secretary of State. The notary enforcement laws appear at N.C.G.S. § 10B-20 et. seq. These require anyone advertising as a notary in a language other than English to include a conspicuous warning in both languages stating that he is not a lawyer. A notary is specifically prohibited from claiming qualification to counsel on immigration matters. The Secretary of State can suspend or revoke the notary’s commission. The notary enforcement division has a staff of investigators who deal with UPL issues. The form for notary complaints can be found at /www.sosnc.gov/tip/.

You can contact the notary enforcement division at:

notary@sosnc.com
Phone Number: 919-807-2219

P.O. Box 29626
Raleigh, North Carolina 27626-0626

Civil Remedies

Victims of notarios can also sue in civil court. Possible causes of action include unfair and deceptive trade practices, breach of contract, fraud, negligence, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. In the case of unfair and deceptive trade practices, plaintiffs can receive treble damages and attorney’s fees. In addition, N.C.G.S. § 84-10.1 (part of the criminal statute cited above) provides a private cause of action for unauthorized practice of law, allowing for “damages and reasonable attorneys' fees.”

Along with monetary damages, plaintiffs may seek injunctive relief to stop the practice. In the case of particularly prodigious notarios, counsel may wish to consider seeking certification for a class action to include all similarly-situated plaintiffs. In some cases the Eastern Carolina Immigrants' Rights Project of the N.C. Justice Center has taken on class-action litigation against notarios. The person to contact at the Justice Center is Kate Woomer-Deters at 919-861-2072, kate@ncjustice.org.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

To report ineffective assistance of counsel in North Carolina, review the instructions from the North Carolina State Bar.

 

Becoming a Notary Public

To become a notary public, one must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Reside or have a regular place of work in North Carolina
  • Reside legally in the United States
  • Speak, read and write English
  • Possess a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Pass the notary course
  • Purchase and keep for reference the most recent notary manual
  • Submit an application to the Secretary of State

NORTH DAKOTA

 

UPL Statute Summary

North Dakota Stat. §27.11.01

North Dakota has a specific statute prohibiting the unauthorized practice of law, ND Stat. § 27.11.01. However, it does not list an extensive set of examples of what constitutes UPL. The acts of a notario could be argued to fall under the “act as counselor of law.” North Dakota does not provide for a private cause of action in these instances.

The statute states:

“Except as otherwise provided by state law or supreme court rule, a person may not practice law, act as an attorney or counselor at law in this state, or commence, conduct, or defend in any court of record of this state, any action or proceeding in which the person is not a party concerned, nor may a person be qualified to serve on a court of record unless that person has:

  1. Secured from the supreme court a certificate of admission to the bar of this state; and
  2. Secured an annual license therefor from the state board of law examiners.

Any person who violates this section is quality of a Class A misdemeanor. A Class A misdemeanor holds a maximum penalty of one year’s imprisonment, a fine of up to three thousand dollars, or both.” ND. Sta. § 12.1-32.01(5).

 

Licensing Agency UPL Awareness

North Dakota has a consumer protection agency under the office of the Attorney General. One would think that the type of fraud perpetrated by notaries should be covered by this agency. However, in communicating with their office, I was told that the problem of notaries was an issue outside of the scope of their office. They directed me to the state bar association.

The following link provides consumers with a complaint form, unfortunately, the form is only available in English.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

To report ineffective assistance of counsel in North Dakota, review these instructions North Dakota Supreme Court Disciplinary Board.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

For UPL Complaints:

Disciplinary Board
Supreme Court of North Dakota
PO Box 2297
Bismarck, ND 58502-2297
Tel: 701-328-3925
Fax: 701-328-3964

Attorney General’s Consumer Complaint Dept.:

Consumer Protection Division
Office of the Attorney General
Gateway Professional Center
1050 E. Interstate Ave., Suite 200
Bismarck, ND 58503-5574

Notary Administration:

Secretary of State
State of North Dakota
600 E. Boulevard Ave., Dept. 108
Bismarck, ND 58505-0500
Tel: 701-328-2901
Toll free: 800-352-0867 ext. 328-2901
Fax: 701-328-010

 

Becoming a Notary Public

The method to become a notary can be found here.

In essence, one must be 18 years old, a US citizen or LPR, reside or be employed in North Dakota or a bordering county from a reciprocating state, be able to read and write English and pay a $36 fee along with the application.

There are several prohibitions given to notaries in ND, including not being able to act in any way similar to a counselor of law or use the term “notario” in advertising unless the person is also a licensed attorney. ND. Stat. § 44-06. 1-23.

The statute permits the Secretary of State to issue sanctions against persons violating these provisions, including revocation of license, civil penalty of up to $500 or a letter of reprimand. ND. Stat. § 44-06. 1-21.

Though the ND statute does provide for the creation of a licensed notary database, one does not appear to exist online. ND. Stat. § 44-06.1-22.

OHIO

 

UPL Statute Summary

Ohio Revised Code, §4705.07, Unauthorized practice

  1. No person who is not licensed to practice law in this state shall do any of the following:
    1. Hold that person out in any manner as an attorney at law;
    2. Represent that person orally or in writing, directly or indirectly, as being authorized to practice law.
    3. Commit any act that is prohibited by the supreme court as being the unauthorized practice of law.
  2.  
    1. The use of "lawyer," "attorney at law," "counselor at law," "law," "law office," or other equivalent words by any person who is not licensed to practice law, in connection with that person's own name, or any sign, advertisement, card, letterhead, circular, or other writing, document, or design, the evident purpose of which is to induce others to believe that person to be an attorney, constitutes holding out within the meaning of division (A)(1) of this section.
    2. Only the supreme court may make a determination that any person has committed the unauthorized practice of law in violation of division (A)(3) of this section.
  3.  
    1. If necessary to serve the public interest and consistent with the rules of the supreme court, any person who is authorized to bring a claim before the supreme court that alleges the unauthorized practice of law in violation of division (A)(3) of this section may make a motion to the supreme court to seek interim relief prior to the final resolution of the person's claim.
    2. Any person who is damaged by another person who commits a violation of division (A)(3) of this section may commence a civil action to recover actual damages from the person who commits the violation, upon a finding by the supreme court that the other person has committed an act that is prohibited by the supreme court as being the unauthorized practice of law in violation of that division. The court in which that action for damages is commenced is bound by the determination of the supreme court regarding the unauthorized practice of law and shall not make any additional determinations regarding the unauthorized practice of law. The court in which the action for damages is commenced shall consider all of the following in awarding damages to a person under division (C)(2) of this section:
      1. The extent to which the fee paid for the services that constitute the unauthorized practice of law in violation of division (A)(3) of this section exceeds the reasonable fees charged by licensed attorneys in the area in which the violation occurred;
      2. The costs incurred in paying for legal advice to correct any inadequacies in the services that constitute the unauthorized practice of law in violation of division (A)(3) of this section;
      3. Any other damages proximately caused by the failure of the person performing the services that constitute the unauthorized practice of law to have the license to practice law in this state that is required to perform the services;
      4. Any reasonable attorney's fees that are incurred in bringing the civil action under division (C)(1) or (2) of this section.
  4. Divisions (C)(1) and (2) of this section apply, and may be utilized, only regarding acts that are the unauthorized practice of law in violation of division (A)(3) of this section and that occur on or after the effective date of this amendment.

Whoever violates division (A)(1) or (2) of section 4705.07 of the Revised Code is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree. OH ST § 4705.99. A misdemeanor of the first degree holds a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail (OH ST § 2929.24) and a fine totaling no more than one thousand dollars (OH ST § 2929.28).

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPIL

Victims may file a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General’s office under the Consumer Sales Practices Act, which may be accessed here. One may file the complaint online here.

Ohio does provide for a Victim’s Compensation Fund, but only to victims of violent crimes. In addition, the Supreme Court of Ohio has established a Clients’ Security Fund to provide assistance to clients who have been financially harmed by the dishonest conduct of a licensed Ohio attorney. Unfortunately, this would not cover claims for damages resulting from UPL because the harm would not be the result of conduct of a licensed Ohio attorney.

A complaint can be initiated either by contacting the Office of Disciplinary Counsel or their local bar association’s unauthorized practice of law committee. Once the complaint has been filed, they will conduct an investigation of the matter. If they determine there is probable cause to warrant a hearing, they will file a formal complaint with the Board on the Unauthorized Practice of Law.

Next, the alleged offender will then be given an opportunity to answer the complaint. Typically, the Board will schedule and hold a hearing on the matter. However, the parties may file a stipulation of facts and waive the hearing. After the hearing or review of the stipulation of facts, the Board may dismiss the matter; refer the matter back to the relator (i.e., Disciplinary Counsel or the local bar association's unauthorized practice of law committee); or, if it finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the respondent engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, file a report with the Supreme Court. The report will include the Board's findings, recommendations, transcript of testimony, if any, and an itemized statement of costs.

The respondent and relator may file objections to the Board's report. If objections are filed, oral argument is scheduled before the Supreme Court. After a hearing on objections, or if objections are not filed within the prescribed time, the Supreme Court shall enter an order it finds proper. If the Court finds that respondent's conduct constituted the unauthorized practice of law, the Court may prohibit respondent from engaging in the unauthorized practice of law in the future and order respondent to make reimbursement of the costs and expenses incurred by the Board and relator.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

To report ineffective assistance of counsel in Ohio, you may file a grievance to the Supreme Court of Ohio using this page, which has links to the form in English, Spanish, Russian, Somali, French, and Chinese.

 

Difficulties in Complaint Process/Actual Suppression of UPL

Our conversations with other attorneys in Ohio have not revealed a definitive response to this question.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Ohio Attorney General:

30 E. Broad St., 14th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
Tel: (614) 466-4986

Ohio Notary Commission Office Location:

Ohio Secretary of State

180 E. Broad St., Suite 103

Columbus, OH 43215
Tel: (614) 644-4559
Fax: (614) 644-8820

Ohio Notary Commission Mailing Address:

Notary Commission Clerk

Ohio Secretary of State

P.O. Box 1658

Columbus, OH 43216-1658

Ohio State Bar Association:

1700 Lake Shore Drive
Columbus, OH 43204
Tel: (800) 282-6556

 

Becoming a Notary Public

In Ohio, all new notary commissions are handled through the counties. Each county has a slightly different process. You should contact the county in which you reside.

Contact information can be accessed here.

One can search for licensed notaries on the Secretary of State website located here.

OKLAHOMA

 

UPL Statute Summary

§49-6. Authority - Provision of legal advice.

B. No notary public, except those who are licensed attorneys or otherwise authorized by law to represent persons on immigration or citizenship matters, shall hold himself or herself out as having expertise in providing legal advice on any proceeding, filing or action affecting the immigration or citizenship status of another person. For purposes of this section, “legal advice” means any direct or indirect advice or counsel related to provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act including, but not limited to, assistance in the selection of immigration forms required by the Immigration and Nationality Act, advice or council related to responses to information required on forms by the Immigration and Nationality Act, or acting in a representative capacity in an attempt to redress wrongs or secure benefits provided by the Immigration and Nationality Act. Any notary public who provides nonlegal assistance on any proceeding, filing or action affecting the immigration or citizenship status of another person shall give the following notice to that person verbally and in writing: “I am not a licensed attorney or representative of any government agency with authority over immigration or citizenship and, therefore, cannot offer legal advice about immigration or any other legal matters.”  If the notary public operates a business or advertises in any language other than English, such notice shall be given in both English and in the other language or languages. Literal translation of the phrase “notary public” into Spanish, hereby defined as “notario publico” or “notario”, is prohibited. For purposes of this section, “literal translation” of a word or phrase from one language to another means the translation of a word or phrase without regard to the true meaning of the word or phrase in the language which is being translated.

§49-6.1. Violation of Section 6 - Penalties.

Any individual convicted of violating subsection B of Section 6 of Title 49 of the Oklahoma Statutes shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be subject to a fine not to exceed One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00). Upon receipt of a final judgment against a notary public for a violation of subsection B of Section 6 of Title 49 of the Oklahoma Statutes from a district court of this state or its equivalent from a foreign jurisdiction, the Secretary of State shall revoke the appointment of the notary for a period of eight (8) years.

 

Licensing Agency UPL Awareness

The Secretary of State’s office does not seem to investigate or enforce UPL, however, on their FAQ page, they state:

Where should a person report illegal, improper or questionable acts by a notary public?

Persons suspected of any wrongdoing or mistakes acting as a notary public should be reported to the local police department and/or the district attorney’s office. Since The Oklahoma Secretary of State is not an enforcement agency and does not employ legal counsel, it cannot accept reports of misconduct. When a final judgment from an Oklahoma district court is rendered against a notary public for performing a false or fraudulent notarial act, the Secretary of State can then revoke the notary public’s appointment.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL

One may file a complaint under the Consumer Protection Act or the Deceptive Trade Practices Act with the Attorney General’s Public Protection Unit.

Compliant forms can be found here.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

To report ineffective assistance of counsel in Oklahoma, review the page on Lawyer Complaint Procedure from the Oklahoma State Bar, available here.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Attorney General’s Consumer Complaint Dept.:

Public Protection Unit
Office of the Attorney General
313 NE 21st Street
Oklahoma City, OK 73105

Notary Administration:

Notary Public Services
Secretary of State
2300 N. Lincoln Blvd, Room 101
Oklahoma City, OK 73105-4897
Fax: (405) 522-3555
Email: notary@sos.ok.gov

 

Becoming a Notary Public

Applicants must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States.
  • A legal resident of Oklahoma or an out-of-state resident who is employed within Oklahoma.
  • Not have been convicted of a felony.
  • Be at least 18 years of age or older.

Applicants must submit the application either online or by mail with the $25.00 fee. A commission will be issued upon approval of the properly completed application and receipt of the appropriate fee. The application can be accessed here.

The Secretary of State has an online tool to look up current notaries that may be accessed here.

OREGON

 

UPL Statute Summary

Oregon Revised Statutes 9.280

Prohibition on acting as immigration consultant

(1) It shall be a violation of ORS 9.160 (Bar membership required to practice law) for any person to engage in the business or act in the capacity of an immigration consultant in this state, for compensation, unless the person is an active member of the Oregon State Bar.

(2) As used in this section, unless the context or subject matter requires otherwise:

(a) Immigration consultant means any person who gives advice on an immigration matter, including but not limited to drafting an application, brief, document, petition or other paper or completing a form provided by a federal or state agency in an immigration matter.

(b) Immigration matter means any proceeding, filing or action affecting the immigration or citizenship status of any person which arises under immigration and naturalization law, executive order or presidential proclamation, or action of the United States Department of Homeland Security, the United States Department of Justice, the United States Department of State or the United States Department of Labor.

(3) This section does not apply to any person or qualified designated entity authorized by federal law to represent persons before the United States Department of Homeland Security or the United States Department of Justice. [1987 c.860 §5; 2007 c.61 §1]

Note: Sections 1 and 2, chapter 753, Oregon Laws 2015, provide:

Sec. 1. Task Force on Immigration Consultant Fraud. (1) The Task Force on Immigration Consultant Fraud is established, consisting of 12 members as follows:

(a) The President of the Senate shall appoint one member from among members of the Senate.

(b) The Speaker of the House of Representatives shall appoint one member from among members of the House of Representatives.

(c) The Secretary of State or the Secretary of States designee shall serve as a member of the task force.

(d) The Governor shall appoint the following members:

(A) A representative of the Oregon State Bar.

(B) An attorney who practices in the area of immigration.

(C) A representative of the Oregon Advocacy Commissions Office.

(D) A representative of the Department of Justice.

(E) A representative of an organization of criminal defense attorneys in this state.

(F) A member representing prosecutors in this state.

(G) A representative of an organization that advocates for low-wage workers.

(H) A member representing law enforcement.

(I) A representative of an organization advocating for immigrants and refugees.

(2) The task force shall study the issue of violations of ORS 9.280 (Prohibition on acting as immigration consultant) by immigration consultants and the practice of immigration consultants attempting to obstruct persons from reporting violations of ORS 9.280 (Prohibition on acting as immigration consultant).

(3) A majority of the voting members of the task force constitutes a quorum for the transaction of business.

(4) Official action by the task force requires the approval of a majority of the voting members of the task force.

(5) The task force shall elect one of its members to serve as chairperson.

(6) If there is a vacancy for any cause, the appointing authority shall make an appointment to become immediately effective.

(7) The task force shall meet at times and places specified by the call of the chairperson or of a majority of the voting members of the task force.

(8) The task force may adopt rules necessary for the operation of the task force.

(9) The task force shall submit a report in the manner provided by ORS 192.245 (Form of report to legislature), and may include recommendations for legislation, to a committee or an interim committee of the Legislative Assembly related to immigration as appropriate no later than September 15, 2015.

(10) The Oregon Advocacy Commissions Office shall provide staff support to the task force.

(11) Members of the task force who are not members of the Legislative Assembly are not entitled to compensation, but may be reimbursed for actual and necessary travel and other expenses incurred by them in the performance of their official duties in the manner and amounts provided for in ORS 292.495 (Compensation and expenses of members of state boards and commissions). Claims for expenses incurred in performing functions of the task force shall be paid out of funds appropriated to the Oregon Advocacy Commissions Office for purposes of the task force.

(12) All agencies of state government, as defined in ORS 174.111 (State government defined), are directed to assist the task force in the performance of its duties and, to the extent permitted by laws relating to confidentiality, to furnish such information and advice as the members of the task force consider necessary to perform their duties. [2015 c.753 §1]

Sec. 2. Repeal. Section 1 of this 2015 Act is repealed on December 31, 2016. [2015 c.753 §2]

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL

The Oregon State Bar has an Unlawful Practice of Law Committee. The Committee’s mission is to “Investigate complaints of unlawful practice of law and to recommend prosecution where appropriate.”  The Bar does not take any enforcement action other than the UPL Committee sending a letter to the UPL individual/organization stating that he/she/it is practicing law without a license, in violation of Oregon law. Enforcement is left up to the Oregon AG’s office or other entity.

The Oregon State Bar does provide helpful information to the public on UPL here. It refers individuals who believe they may have been victims of UPL to the Oregon Attorney General as follows: “If you believe you have been the victim of consumer fraud or would like to file a complaint against a business please contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Hotline at 1-877-877-9392 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or complete an online Oregon DOJ Consumer Complaint Form anytime. You may also wish to visit the Oregon Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection website for more information. (http://www.doj.state.or.us/consumer/index.shtml).”

Individuals can also send a complaint in writing to the Oregon State Bar; this will likely be referred to the UPL Committee for follow-up.

The Oregon Attorney General (AG)’s Office main efforts with regard to UPL consist of their Consumer Hotline (see above #3) and via the internet and their online Consumer Complaint Form. There is very helpful information for the public in Spanish (“en español”) here. This page specifically advises that in Oregon “notarios” are not the same as “lawyers” (“abogados”), and it cautions that only lawyers should be entrusted to handle legal issues. It gives additional information and resources for victims of notario fraud.

General information about consumer fraud protection, under which UPL falls, is found here.

There is no victim’s protection/security fund in Oregon for UPL victimization. However, the Oregon State Bar Client Security Fund is available to help reimburse clients who lose money or property as a result of dishonest conduct by an attorney (only).

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

To report ineffective assistance of counsel in Oregon, you may contact the Client Assistance Office of the Oregon State Bar using this page.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Oregon State Bar:

OSB General Counsel’s Office
Attn: Unlawful Practice of Law 
P.O. Box 231935 
Tigard, OR 97281-1935
Telephone: 503 620-0222
Email: ahollister@osbar.org

Attorney General:

Hon. Ellen F Rosenblum
Oregon Department of Justice
1162 Court St. NE
Salem, OR 97301
Telephone numbers:
Salem: 503 378-4320 
Portland: 503 229-5576 
Toll-Free: 1-877-877-9392 
Email: help@oregonconsumer.gov 

 

Becoming a Notary Public

Applicants must:

  • Be a resident of Oregon or employed in Oregon
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Not have been convicted of a felony or a crime involving dishonesty or fraud.
  • Be able to read and write in English.
  • Passed the Oregon Secretary of State’s Notary Exam

Additional information about becoming a notary and the notary requirements can be found here.

PENNSYLVANIA

 

UPL Statute Summary

42 PA C. S. § 2524. Penalty for unauthorized practice of law.

  1. General rule.--Except as provided in subsection (b), any person, including, but not limited to, a paralegal or legal assistant, who within this Commonwealth shall practice law, or who shall hold himself out to the public as being entitled to practice law, or use or advertise the title of lawyer, attorney at law, attorney and counselor at law, counselor, or the equivalent in any language, in such a manner as to convey the impression that he is a practitioner of the law of any jurisdiction, without being an attorney at law or a corporation complying with 15 Pa.C.S. Ch. 29 (relating to professional corporations), commits a misdemeanor of the third degree upon a first violation. A second or subsequent violation of this subsection constitutes a misdemeanor of the first degree.
  2. Practice by associations.—
  1. An association does not violate subsection (a) if it provides legal services only through officers, employees or agents who are duly admitted to practice law. The association may employ persons not admitted to practice law, but those persons shall not render any legal services rendered or to be rendered by the association.
  2. This subsection shall not be interpreted to preclude the use of clerks, secretaries, administrators, bookkeepers, technicians and other assistants who are not usually and ordinarily considered by law, custom and practice to be rendering legal services nor to preclude the use of any other person who performs all his employment under the direct supervision and control of a person duly admitted to practice law. A person shall not, under the guise of employment, render legal services unless duly admitted to practice law.
  3. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an association may charge for the legal services of its officers, employees and agents, may collect those charges and may compensate those who render the professional services.
  1. Injunction.--In addition to criminal prosecution, unauthorized practice of law may be enjoined in any county court of common pleas having personal jurisdiction over the defendant. The party obtaining such an injunction may be awarded costs and expenses incurred, including reasonable attorney fees, against the enjoined party. A violation of subsection (a) is also a violation of the act of December 17, 1968 (P.L.1224, No.387), known as the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL

Victims may file a complaint with the AG’s Bureau of Consumer Protection under the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, accessible here.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

To report ineffective assistance of counsel in Pennsylvania, you may use the instructions from the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, found here.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Notary Public Information:

Division of Legislation and Notaries
210 North Office Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120

Attorney General’s Office:

Office of Attorney General

Bureau of Consumer Protection

15th Floor, Strawberry Square

Harrisburg, PA 17120
Tel: 800-441-2555

 

Becoming a Notary Public

A notary public applicant must meet the following eligibility requirements for an appointment:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a resident of or be employed within the Commonwealth
  • Be of good character, integrity and ability

A notary public applicant will not be issued a notary public commission unless the applicant:

  • Has submitted an application on a form prescribed and furnished by the Secretary of the Commonwealth accompanied by the appropriate nonrefundable filing fee
  • Has submitted an application endorsed by the state Senator of the district in which the applicant resides, or in the case of a nonresident employed in Pennsylvania, the endorsement of the Senator of the district in which the applicant is employed.
  • Has verified that he or she is of good moral character, and is familiar with the duties and responsibilities of a notary public as determined by the Secretary of the Commonwealth.
  • Has not made a material misstatement or omission of fact in the application.
  • Has provided proof of completion of a three hour preapproved notary public course within six months preceding application. (Only if required. See "Mandatory Education Requirement" link below)
  • Has not been convicted of or pled guilty or nolo contendere to a felony or lesser offense incompatible with the duties of a notary public during the five year period preceding the date of application.
  • Has not had a prior notary public commission revoked by the Commonwealth or any other state during the five year period preceding the date of application.

Application form and process may be accessed here.

You may search for current notary commissions here.

RHODE ISLAND

 

UPL Statute Summary

RI Gen. Laws § 11-27-12, Unauthorized holding out as qualified to practice law.

No person, except a duly admitted member of the bar of this state, whose authority as a member to practice law is in full force and effect, shall assume to be an attorney or counselor at law or hold himself or herself out in any manner to the public or to another person as being competent, qualified, authorized, or entitled to practice law in this state.

RI Gen. Laws § 11-27-14, Penalties for violations.

Any person violating any of the provisions of this chapter shall, upon a first conviction, be imprisoned for a term not exceeding one year, or fined not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500), or both. Any firm, corporation, or other entity violating any of the provisions of this chapter shall, upon a first conviction, be fined not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500). Every person having been convicted of a subsequent offense involving the unauthorized practice of law in this state or in any other jurisdiction shall, for each offense, be imprisoned for a term not exceeding five (5) years, or be fined not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000), or both. Every firm, corporation, or other entity having been convicted of a subsequent offense involving the unauthorized practice of law in this state or in any other jurisdiction shall, for each offense, be fined not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000).

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL

File a complaint with the AG’s Consumer Protection Unit under the Deceptive Trade Practices Act. A complaint form in English and Spanish may be accessed here.

One may also contact the Rhode Island State Bar’s UPL committee. The Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee has fourteen members who are appointed by the Supreme Court. The Committee is charged with investigating all reports of activities that may constitute the unauthorized practice of law. The Committee has the authority to hold hearings to determine whether or not the charges are substantiated.  The Committee also has the authority to adopt, amend, and rescind any rules and regulations that it deems necessary to carry out its duties.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

To report ineffective assistance of counsel in Rhode Island, fill out the complaint form from the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Rhode Island.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Notary Public Information:

Office of the Secretary of State
Division of Business Services
148 W River Street
Providence RI 02904-2615
Tel: (401) 222-3040

Rhode Island State Bar:

Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee
Supreme Court Clerk’s Office
250 Benefit Street
Providence, RI 02903
Tel: (401) 222-3272

Attorney General:

Department of the Attorney General
Consumer Protection Unit
150 South Main St.
Providence, RI 02903
Tel: (401) 274-4400
Fax: (401) 222-5110

 

Becoming a Notary Public

To become a notary in Rhode Island, you must:

  • Be either a registered voter in the state of Rhode Island or a member of the Rhode Island Bar Association.
  • Complete and remit for filing the Notary Application Form. The fee is $80 for a four-year commission.
  • Mail or bring the application and check, made payable to the RI Secretary of State, to: 148 W. River St., Providence, RI 02904

The Secretary of State has an online tool to find current notary commissions, which can be accessed here.

SOUTH CAROLINA

 

UPL Statute Summary

SC Code of Laws, SECTION 40-5-310. Practicing law or soliciting legal cause of another without being enrolled as member of South Carolina Bar.

No person may either practice law or solicit the legal cause of another person or entity in this State unless he is enrolled as a member of the South Carolina Bar pursuant to applicable court rules, or otherwise authorized to perform prescribed legal activities by action of the Supreme Court of South Carolina. The type of conduct that is the subject of any charge filed pursuant to this section must have been defined as the unauthorized practice of law by the Supreme Court of South Carolina prior to any charge being filed. A person who violates this section is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

HISTORY: 1962 Code Section 56-141; 1952 Code Section 56-141; 1942 Code Section 312; 1932 Code Section 312; Civ. P. '22 Section 268; Civ. C. '12 Section 3908; Civ. C. '02 Section 2811; G.S. 2159; R. S. 2287; 1721 (7) 173; 1995 Act No. 7, Part II, Section 59; 2009 Act No. 38, Section 1.

In General Complaints are not taken seriously by law enforcement officials. Typically the AG-office (actually responsible along with local law enforcement agencies) points people filing a complaint to the consumer protection agency, which does not enforce UPL (only consumer fraud aspects). Law enforcement cites two obstacles to persecution: 1. The law requires the specific conduct in advance to defined as the unauthorized practice of law by the Supreme Court of South Carolina. Only few specific conducts are so defined. 2. Especially in Immigration UPL cases it is to difficult to (a) get willing and credible witnesses, and (b) obtain jury convictions based on the testimony of foreigners present in the US without authorization. The is the possibility to bring actions in the original jurisdiction of the SC Supreme Court to declare certain conduct the unlawful practice of law. The SC Supreme Court seems eager to encourage such cases to build a body of case law defining the unlawful practice of law. However, the declaratory judgment only prohibits future conduct of the same kind and typically is only effective against a certain respondent.

 

Licensing Agency UPL Awareness

The Secretary of State Office is aware of UPIL issues but has little enforcement rights and budget.

The Secretary of State Office has volunteer training sessions for Notary Public, were they inform about the illegality and potential criminal consequences of UPL. The secretary of state office typically invites speakers from the SC Bar UPL Committee to highlight those issues.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL

The South Carolina bar association has an UPL committee which tries to rise awareness among stakeholders, and to monitor enforcement action of law enforcement agencies. The bar asks victims to file their complaints directly with the AG or local law enforcement agencies accompanied with an information filing with the UPL committee.

The only direct enforcement action occasionally directly taken by the UPL Committee is the issuance of a letter of caution for suspected UPL. The AILA UPL Liaison and another immigration attorney from a local Non-profit Organization for Immigrants are on the SC Bar UPL Committee and provided, continuous reminders of the relevant UPIL issues.

The AG has a representative on the SC Bar UPL Committee and are consequently continuously informed about the issue. However, budget restraints, a political environment generally hostile to government licensing requirements, and the low likelihood to obtain jury convictions in this area (lack of credible witnesses that would convince a jury) make it hard for law enforcement agencies and the AG to allocate to much resources. Recently, however, the AG office seems more likely to issue letters of caution to suspected violators, which at least disrupt their practices.

The SC Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation is supposed to monitor the required registration by immigration assistance services, and their required non-attorney disclaimer in any advertisement. They also only allocate very little resources to those efforts but seemingly follow up if they receive complaints of specific violations. However, that typically only results in the registration and licensing of the UPL violators, giving them actually more cloud. However, after letters of caution from the SC Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation to licensed immigration assistance services, they typically include the disclaimer in later advertisements, bringing the issues to the attention of their potential customers. The maximum fine for immigration assistance services to practice without respective license from the SC Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (basically a pure registration requirement) is only $1000 and to my knowledge no fines have ever been issued. The only enforcement action here seemingly are letters of caution requesting registration and/or the advertisement disclaimer.

South Carolina has a Crime Victims' Compensation Fund to help citizens with costs related to injuries received in a crime, see here. However, qualification requirements for assistance and low UPL criminal enforcement activity make it unlikely for victims of UPL to qualify. No cases of actual assistance are known to me.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

To report ineffective assistance of counsel in South Carolina, you may contact the South Carolina Judicial Department here.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

South Carolina Bar:

Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee
P.O. Box 608
Columbia, SC 29202
Phone: (803) 799-6653
Fax: (803) 799-5290
Staff Contact: Jill.Rothstein@scbar.org

Attorney General:

The Honorable Alan Wilson
P.O. Box 11549
Columbia, S.C. 29211

Office Location:
Rembert Dennis Building
1000 Assembly Street, Room 519
Columbia, S.C. 29201
General: 1-803-734-3970
Victim Assistance Program: 1-800-213-5652
UPL Contact: Allen Myrick: amyrick@scag.gov
http://www.scag.gov

Solicitors’ offices:

One can also contact Local Sheriffs and Police department

 

Becoming a Notary Public

South Carolina Notary Public

Reference Manual, Chapter 1 General Information:

2. What are the qualifications for being a notary public in South Carolina?

A notary public must be registered to vote in South Carolina thirty days prior to an election. In order to become a registered voter, one must:

  • be a United States citizen;
  • be at least 18 years old on or before the next election;
  • be a resident of South Carolina,
  • declaring a county and precinct;
  • not be under a court order declaring mental incompetence;
  • not be serving a term of imprisonment resulting from a conviction of a crime; and
  • have never been convicted of a felony or offense against the election laws OR if previously convicted, have served an entire sentence including probation or parole, or have received a pardon for the conviction.

Candidates Must:

a) Carefully type or print legibly all information requested on the top portion of your application (see Page 36) and sign in the presence of a notary public. The bottom portion is to be completed by your county delegation. Addresses for the legislative delegations are on the front of the application. Check “New” at the top right of the application form.

b) Attach a $25.00 check or money order payable to “Secretary of State” to your application.

c) Mail the application with your check or money order to your county delegation for the required signatures. Your delegation office will forward your check or money order and application to the Secretary of State’s Office.

d) If your county is not listed on the front of the application, forward your application and check or money order to: South Carolina House of Representatives P.O. Box 11867 Columbia, SC 29211-1867.

e) The Secretary of State’s Office will mail your commission certificate to you after we have received and processed your application.

f) You must be a registered voter to become a notary public. If you do not know your voter registration number, call your County Voters Registration Office or County Registration and Election Commission for this in formation. The telephone number is listed in the County Government section of your local telephone book, and can also be found at www.scvotes.org/how_to_register_absentee_voting.

The renewal process is the same as the initial registration process, including the $25 fee. Check “Renew” at the top right of the application form. NOTE: Commissions are not automatically renewed; renewal is the responsibility of the notary, as notice will not be given that a commission is near expiration. The notary should reapply at least one month prior to the commission expiration date.

The website to look up notary publics licensed in South Carolina is: www.scsos.com/Notaries_and_Apostilles/Notary_Search .

SOUTH DAKOTA

 

UPL Statute Summary

South Dakota has a specific statute prohibiting the unauthorized practice of law, SD. Stat. § 16-16-1. However, it provides only for a narrow definition of UPL. To violate the act, one must pose as an attorney of record in court. Holding a notario to the penalties provided by this statute may prove difficult. South Dakota also does not provide for a private cause of action.

The statute states:

“License from Supreme Court required to practice law – Active membership in state bar – Violation as misdemeanor. No person, except as provided in § 16-18-2, may practice as an attorney and counselor at law in any court of record within this state, either by using or subscribing his or her own name or the name of any other person, without having previously obtained a license for that purpose from the Supreme Court of this state and having become an active member in good standing of the State Bar of South Dakota. A violation of this section is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

A Class 1 misdemeanor provides for penalties of up to one year imprisonment in a county jail or up to two thousand dollars fine, or both.” SD. Stat. §22-6-2(1).

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL

An agent for the South Dakota Bar Association said they could sue under their state’s statute as well as seek injunctive relief. However there is not a specific mechanism to initiate this process besides contacting the bar association directly. Instructions to file are found here.

Consumers may file a complaint with the Attorney General using this form.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

To report ineffective assistance of counsel in South Dakota, use the State Bar of South Dakota’s information page available here.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

For UPL Complaints:

Disciplinary Board
The State Bar of South Dakota
222 E. Capitol
Pierre, SD 57501

Attorney General’s Consumer Complaint Dept.:

Office of Attorney General
Marty J. Jackley
Division of Consumer Protection
1302 E Hwy 14, Suite 3
Pierre, SD 57501-8053
1-800-300-1986 (In-state)
Fax: (605) 773-7163

Notary Administration:

Notary Administrator
State Capitol
500 East Capitol Avenue
Pierre, SD 57501
Tel: (605) 773-5007

 

Becoming a Notary Public

The method to become a notary can be found here.

One must be 18 years old, a US citizen or LPR, reside or be employed in South Dakota or a bordering county from a reciprocating state, not be a felon and pay a $30 fee along with the application.

Engaging in notarial duties without a commission is a class 1 misdemeanor. SD. Stat. §18-1-12. 1.

Search for licensed notaries here.

TENNESSEE

 

UPL Statute Summary

Tennessee Code Ann., 8-16-401, Notice that notary public is not an attorney.

(a) (1) A notary public who is not an attorney licensed to practice law in this state who advertises in any language the person's services as a notary public by radio, television, signs, pamphlets, newspapers, telephone directory or other written or oral communication, or in any other matter, shall include with such advertisement the notice set forth in this section in English and in the language used in the advertisement. The notice shall be of conspicuous size and shall state:

"I AM NOT AN ATTORNEY LICENSED TO PRACTICE LAW IN THE STATE OF TENNESSEE, AND I MAY NOT GIVE LEGAL ADVICE OR ACCEPT FEES FOR LEGAL ADVICE."

(2) An advertisement on radio or television must include substantially the same message.

(b) A notary public who is not an attorney licensed to practice law in this state is prohibited from advising or assisting in selecting or completing forms affecting or relating to a person's immigration status, unless that conduct is specifically authorized by federal law.

Tennessee Code Ann., 8-16-402, Prohibited representations or advertising.

A notary public who is not an attorney licensed to practice law is prohibited from representing or advertising that the notary public is an immigration consultant, immigration paralegal or expert on immigration matters unless the notary public is an accredited representative of an organization recognized by the board of immigration appeals pursuant to 8 CFR 292.2 or any subsequent federal law.

Tennessee Code Ann., 23-3-103, Unlawful practice prohibited -- Penalty.

(a) No person shall engage in the practice of law or do law business, or both, as defined in § 23-3-101, unless the person has been duly licensed and while the person's license is in full force and effect, nor shall any association or corporation engage in the practice of the law or do law business, or both. However, nonresident attorneys associated with attorneys in this state in any case pending in this state who do not practice regularly in this state shall be allowed, as a matter of courtesy, to appear in the case in which they may be thus employed without procuring a license, if properly authorized in accordance with applicable rules of court, and when introduced to the court by a member in good standing of the Tennessee bar, if all the courts of the resident state of the nonresident attorney grant a similar courtesy to attorneys licensed in this state.

(b) Any person who violates the prohibition in subsection (a) commits a Class A misdemeanor.

(c) (1) The attorney general and reporter may bring an action in the name of the state to restrain by temporary restraining order, temporary injunction or permanent injunction any violation of this chapter; to obtain a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed ten thousand dollars ($10,000) per violation, and to obtain restitution for any person who has suffered an ascertainable loss by reason of the violation of this chapter. The attorney general and reporter shall be entitled to be reimbursed for the reasonable costs and expenses of investigation and prosecution of acts under this chapter, including, but not limited to, reasonable attorney fees as well as expert and other witness fees.

(2) The action may be brought in a court of competent jurisdiction:

(A) In the county where the alleged violation took place or is about to take place;

(B) In the county in which the defendant resides, has a principal place of business or conducts, transacts or has conducted business; or

(C) If the defendant cannot be found in any of the locations in subdivisions (c)(2)(A) and (B), in the county in which the defendant can be found.

(3) The courts are authorized to issue orders and injunctions to restrain, prevent and remedy violations of this chapter, and the orders and injunctions shall be issued without bond.

(4) Any knowing violation of the terms of an injunction or order issued pursuant to this chapter shall be punishable by a civil penalty of not more than twenty thousand dollars ($20,000) per violation, in addition to any other appropriate relief.

(d) (1) Any organized bar association of a municipality, county, except any county having a metropolitan form of government, or multi-county region in which a violation occurs may bring a civil action seeking relief, as provided in this chapter, against any person that violates this chapter. Any organized statewide bar association, primarily representing plaintiff attorneys and having no locally-based affiliate associations, may bring a civil action in the municipality or county in which a violation occurs seeking relief, as provided in this chapter, against any person that violates this chapter. Upon the commencement of any action brought under this section by any bar association, the bar association shall provide a copy of the complaint or other initial pleading to the attorney general and reporter, who, in the public interest, may intervene and prosecute the action. The pleadings shall be provided to the attorney general and reporter simultaneously with the initial service to the defendant or defendants. Additionally, all subsequent filings shall be provided to the attorney general and reporter, including any judgments or notices of appeal by the initiating bar association.

(2) Any bar association bringing suit under this section is presumed to be acting in good faith and is granted a qualified immunity for the suit and the consequences of the suit. The presumption of good faith is rebuttable upon a showing by a preponderance of the evidence that the suit was brought for a malicious purpose.

 

Licensing Agency UPL Awareness

From the Secretary of State’s Website:

Complaints About the Conduct of a Notary

  • A Notary is considered a county public official and may be removed from office just as any other county official. Complaints concerning official misconduct should be directed to the appropriate official (such as the County Attorney or the District Attorney General) in the county in which the Notary is elected or in which the alleged misconduct occurred.
  • The County Technical Assistance Service maintains listings for various county officials as part of their Directory of County Officials. Or you can view the Tennessee District Attorneys General Directory.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPIL

The Tennessee Attorney General’s Office can file civil lawsuits against individuals and companies engaged in UPL. A complaint form is available in English and Spanish and can be mailed to the following address:

STATE OF TENNESSEE
Office of the Attorney General
Consumer Advocate & Protection Division
Attn: Unauthorized Practice of Law
P.O. Box 20207
Nashville, TN 37202-0207
Facsimile: (615) 532-2910

Victims may also file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division, under the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act, which may be accessed here.

The complaint may be accessed here and mailed to the following address:

Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs
500 James Robertson Pkwy., 5th Floor
Nashville, TN 37243-0600
Telephone: (615) 741-4737
Fax: (615) 532-4994

One may also submit a complaint to the Nebraska Judicial Branch’s Commission on the Unauthorized Practice of Law. Contact information may be obtained here.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

To report ineffective assistance of counsel in Tennessee, contact the Board of Professional Responsibility using this information page.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Notary Public Information:

State of Tennessee
Department of State
Division of Publications
312 Eighth Avenue North
8th Floor, Wm. R. Snodgrass Tower
Nashville, TN 37243
Tel: (615)741-2650

Tennessee Office of the Attorney General UPL Division:

STATE OF TENNESSEE
Office of the Attorney General
Consumer Advocate & Protection Division
Attn: Unauthorized Practice of Law
P.O. Box 20207
Nashville, TN 37202-0207
Facsimile: (615) 532-2910

Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs:

Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs
500 James Robertson Pkwy., 5th Floor
Nashville, TN 37243-0600
Telephone: (615) 741-4737
Fax: (615) 532-4994

 

Becoming a Notary Public

How to become a notary public:

  • Obtain and complete an application from the County Clerk’s office
  • Submit the completed application to the appropriate County Clerk with the application fee of $12 ($7 for the County Clerk and $5 for the Secretary of State).
  • Be elected by the county legislative body (county commission) in the county in which the applicant resides or maintains his/her principal place of business at the time of his/her election.
  • Secure a surety bond. Bonds are available through Tennessee insurance companies/agencies that sell surety bond coverage.
  • Provide proof of the bond to the County Clerk. The applicant’s documents will be submitted to the state. The Secretary of State’s office will issue the Notary Commission and return it to the County Clerk’s office for the applicant to pick up.

There is also an online tool that one may use in order to search and locate current notaries, which can be accessed here.

TEXAS

 

UPL Statute Summary

Texas Gov’t Code §406.017, Representation as Attorney

  1. A person commits an offense if the person is a notary public and the person:
  1. States or implies that the person is an attorney licensed to practice law in this state;
  2. Solicits or accepts compensation to prepare documents for or otherwise represent the interest of another in a judicial or administrative proceeding, including a proceeding relating to immigration to the United States, United States citizenship, or related matters;
  3. Solicits or accepts compensation to obtain relief of any kind on behalf of another from any officer, agency, or employee of this state or the United States;
  4. Uses the phrase "notario" or "notario publico" to advertise the services of a notary public, whether by signs, pamphlets, stationery, or other written communication or by radio or television; or
  5. Advertises the services of a notary public in a language other than English, whether by signs, pamphlets, stationery, or other written communication or by radio or television, if the person does not post or otherwise include with the advertisement a notice that complies with Subsection
  1. The notice required by Subsection (a)(5) must state that the notary public is not an attorney and must be in English and in the language of the advertisement and in letters of a conspicuous size. If the advertisement is by radio or television, the statement may be modified, but must include substantially the same message. The notice must include the fees that a notary public may charge and the following statement:

"I AM NOT AN ATTORNEY LICENSED TO PRACTICE LAW IN TEXAS AND MAY NOT GIVE LEGAL ADVICE OR ACCEPT FEES FOR LEGAL ADVICE."

  1. It is an exception to prosecution under this section that, at the time of the conduct charged, the person is licensed to practice law in this state and in good standing with the State Bar of Texas.
  2. Except as provided by Subsection (e) of this section, an offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.
  3. An offense under this section is a felony of the third degree if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the defendant has previously been convicted under this section.
  4. Failure to comply with this section is, in addition to a violation of any other applicable law of this state, a deceptive trade practice actionable under Chapter 17, Business & Commerce Code.

 

Licensing Agency UPL Awareness

Both the Secretary of State and Attorney General seem to be aware of the issues presented by notario fraud. On the Secretary of State’s notary homepage, there is a description of how notarios differ from notaries and enumerates the things notaries are not allowed to do. Furthermore, the Secretary has a section of its website dedicated to explaining how one can file a complaint relating to UPL.

Furthermore, the AG’s office has published news releases detailing its actions against notarios in the states. A sample release featuring its opinions and injunctions against notarios can be found here.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL

From the Secretary of State’s page: “a violation of § 406.017 of the Government Code, concerning a notary public’s representation as an attorney, becomes a criminal offense. A first-time conviction is a Class A misdemeanor. A subsequent conviction is a felony of the third degree. In addition, notary publics are "public officers." As such, they can be charged with "official misconduct" under the Penal Code. Criminal complaints may be filed with the District or County Attorney, as appropriate. Additionally, some violations by notaries may also be handled as deceptive trade practices under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.”

Complaints with the AG’s office may be filed online or printed in Spanish or English here.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

To report ineffective assistance of counsel in Texas, watch the State Bar of Texas’ instructional video, available here.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Office of Attorney General:

Office of the Attorney General
Consumer Protection Division
PO Box 12548
Austin, TX 78711-2548

Notary Public Information:

Notary Public Unit

Secretary of State

P.O. Box 13375

Austin, Texas 78711-3375
Tel: (512) 463-5705

 

Becoming a Notary Public

To be commissioned as a notary public in Texas, one must:

  • Be a Texas resident
  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Have not received a final conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude or a felony.
  • Submit Form 2301 (available from the secretary of state, county clerk, or your insurance agency or surety company)
  • Proof of a $10,000 surety bond
  • Filing fee of $21

The Secretary of State also has an online search tool one may use to locate current notary commissions, which can be accessed here.

UTAH

 

UPL Statute Summary

Utah Code Ann. §46-1-11 Prohibited acts – Advertising

(1) A nonattorney notary may not provide advice or counsel to another person concerning legal documents or legal proceedings, including immigration matters.

(2) (a) (i) A nonattorney notary who advertises notarial services in any language other than English shall include in the advertisement a notice that the notary public is not an attorney.

(ii) The notice under Subsection (2)(a)(i) must include the fees that a notary may charge pursuant to Section 46-1-12 and the following statement: “I AM NOT AN ATTORNEY LICENSED TO PRACTICE LAW IN UTAH AND MAY NOT GIVE LEGAL ADVICE ABOUT IMMIGRATION OR ANY OTHER LEGAL MATTER OR ACCEPT FEES FOR LEGAL ADVICE.”

(b)(i) The notice required by Subsection (2)(a) shall be in English and in the language of the advertisement and in letters of a conspicuous size.

(ii) If the advertisement is by radio or television, the statement may be modified, but must include substantially the same message.

(c) (i) Literal translation of the phrase "Notary Public" into any language other than English is prohibited if the literal translation implies that the notary is a licensed attorney.

(ii) In this Subsection (2)(c), "literal translation" means the translation of a word or phrase without regard to the true meaning of the word or phrase in the language that is being translated.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL

Victims may contact the Division of Consumer Protection. You may mail a complaint to the following address:

Division of Consumer Protection
   
160 East 300 South, 2nd Floor
   
P.O. Box 146704
   
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-6704

Liability may be found under the Utah Consumer Sales Practices Act, accessible here.

The Utah State Bar also has addresses UPL issues and has a complaint mechanism available to victims. An online complaint can be accessed here.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

To report ineffective assistance of counsel in Utah, contact the Utah State Bar Office of Professional Conduct using this instructional page.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Office of Attorney General:

Division of Consumer Protection
   
160 East 300 South, 2nd Floor
   
P.O. Box 146704
   
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-6704
Fax: (801) 530-6001

Utah State Bar Association:

Utah State Bar

645 South 200 East

Salt Lake City, Utah 84111                 

 

Becoming a Notary Public

A person qualified for a notarial commission shall

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Lawfully reside in this state 30 days immediately preceding the filing for a notarial commission and maintain permanent residency thereafter
  • Be able to read, write, and understand English
  • Submit an application to the lieutenant governor containing no significant misstatement or omission of fact
  • Be a Utah resident or have permanent resident status under Section 245 of the Immigration and Nationality Act
  • Be endorsed by two residents of the state who are over the age of 18
  • Pass the exam

The Secretary of State has a search tool of recently issued commissions or to locate any current notary, which can be accessed here.

VERMONT

 

UPL Statute Summary

3 V.S.A. § 127. Unauthorized Practice

  • This statute was enacted in 1989 and amended in 1995.
  • When the office receives a complaint of UP, the complaint is referred to the appropriate board for investigation. The attorney general, a state’s attorney, or an attorney assigned by the office of professional regulation can enjoin an individual in the superior court where the violation occurred and may be assessed a civil penalty of $1,000. An action only a civil penalty may also be brought before the board having regulatory authority over the legal profession.
  • UP may also be punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 or imprisonment for not more than one year. Prosecution may occur upon the complaint of the attorney general or a state’s attorney or an attorney assigned by the office of professional regulation.

 

Licensing Agency UPL Awareness

The Vermont Secretary of State maintains a master list of all notaries public appointed and commissioned in the State of Vermont. The Notary Public Database, found here, can be used for verification of a single notary public, or to download lists of Vermont notaries statewide, by county or by a specific zip code.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL

The Vermont Bar Association has a Client’s Security Fund. However, the fund is meant to reimburse claimants for losses caused by the dishonest conduct of a lawyer, meaning that a victim of UPL would not be able to access the funds.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

To report ineffective assistance of counsel in Vermont, use the instructions available here.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Professional Responsibility Board:

Michael Kennedy
Disciplinary Counsel
32 Cherry Street, Suite 123, Burlington, VT 05401
Phone: (802) 859-3000
Fax: (802) 859-3003
Website: www.vermontjudiciary.org/LC/attydiscipline.aspx

To file a complaint, individual can mail or fax a letter, with their signature, to Michael Kennedy.

 

Becoming a Notary Public

To become a notary public, one must:

  • Be 18 years or older.
  • Be a Vermont resident or non-resident of an adjacent state who works in Vermont.
  • Be appointed by the judges of the superior court of the county in which the individual resides, unless they are an ex-officio notary (clerk of the supreme court, county clerk, district court clerk, family court clerk, justice of the peace, town clerk, assistant town clerk, or deputy).
  • Fill out the Notary application, found here.
  • Take the oath of office before a current notary public or other officer, such as a justice of the supreme court, superior judge, assistant judge, justice of the peace, judge of the district court, presiding officer, secretary or clerk f either house of the general assembly or the governor.
  • Present the completed application, along with the $30 fee, to the county clerk in the county in which the individual resides. This may be done in person or by mail.

VIRGINIA

 

UPL Statute Summary

Code of Virginia Annotated §54.1-3904. Penalty for practicing without authority.

Any person who practices law without being authorized or licensed shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. A collection agency may refer debts to an attorney for collection with the creditor's approval of the referral and the fee arrangement and shall not be deemed to be engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. An attorney is permitted by the creditor's authorization to enter into such representation agreements.

The Notary Act also provides guidelines specific to notaries and the practice of immigration law. Specifically, notaries are not allowed to deceive, defraud, or assist a person in their legal case. If a person requires a notarial act on a legal form, the notary’s services are confined to that notarial act. Notaries cannot represent any person in immigration proceedings, provide legal advice, or advertise themselves in a way that implies their ability to render legal services (i.e. “notario,” “notario publico,” or “licenciado”).

The Notary Act also provides for civil liability for notaries who commit prohibited acts within the parameters of the Act:

§47.1-26 and §47.1-27. Civil liability of notary and his/her employer

  • §47.1-26 – A notary public shall be liable for all damages proximately caused by his official misconduct.
  • §47.1-27- The employer…shall also be liable for all damages proximately caused by the official misconduct by such notary if: 1. The notary public was acting within the scope of his employment at the time such damages were caused; and 2. The employer had actual knowledge of, or reasonably should have known of, such notary’s misconduct.

Prohibited acts can also cause the notary to lose their commission (§47.1-23). The complete set of rules for notaries, as well as the code, can be found here.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL

A person can file a complaint based on the Virginia Consumer Protection Act, which may be accessed here.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

To report ineffective assistance of counsel in Virginia, use the instructions available here.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Notary Public Information:

Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth

P.O. Box 1795
Richmond, Virginia 23218-1795

Tel: (804) 692-2536

Fax: (804) 371-0017

 

Becoming a Notary Public

To be eligible to apply for a Virginia Notary Public Commission, one must be: 

  • At least eighteen years old,
  • Able to read and write the English language,
  • Be a legal resident of the United States,
  • Live or work in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and
  • Have not been convicted of a felony. Any person who has ever been convicted of a felony under the laws of the United States or this Commonwealth, or the laws of any other state, shall not qualify to be appointed and commissioned as a Virginia Notary Public unless such person has had his/her rights restored.
  • Non-residents of Virginia may be appointed as notaries if they are regularly employed in the state and perform notary services in connection with their employment. A non-resident notary who ceases to be regularly employed in Virginia must surrender his or her commission.
  • Virginia is a “self certifying state” and does not require classes or testing to qualify to become a notary public.

The application may be accessed here.

WASHINGTON

 

UPL Statute Summary

Civil Statute: RCW §19.154.Washington Immigration Fraud Protection Act, enacted in 2011, that works in conjunction with Consumer Protection Act RCW §19.86.

Criminal Statute: RCW 2.48.180. Unlawful Practice

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL

One can file a complaint on the Washington State Bar Association website found at:

www.wsba.org/Legal-Community/Committees-Boards-and-Other-Groups/Practice-of-Law-Board

There is a form to fill out and a specific section in Spanish.

Additionally, there is information on the Washington State Attorney General Website found here.

The Attorney General has established the website listed above and provided mechanisms to file complaints.

In addition, from 2010 to 2012, the Washington AG Consumer Protection Division was very active in acting on tips from the public and enforcement through consent degrees. The AG also had a very prominent presence in the Latino Community, funding anti-notario television and newspaper ads in Spanish. At the time there were at least three full-time attorneys who focused on UPL issues.

There have been cases of successful litigation against notarios in civil court, many enforcement decrees filed in court, and recently there was an ongoing prosecution of a notario in the Tri-Cities area of Eastern Washington; the notario was working in collaboration with a pair of attorneys. The notario is currently being held in criminal custody and the attorneys who worked with him are being investigated for criminal prosecution, although one has already been disbarred on other grounds.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

To report ineffective assistance of counsel, you may file a complaint with the Washington State Bar Association using this instructional page.

 

Difficulties in Complaint Process/Actual Suppression of UPL

State budget constraints and enforcement priorities generally prevent the AG or prosecutors from bringing charges except in egregious circumstances. Private individuals often do not file and follow up with a complaint through the court due to economic constraints, lack of availability of legal counsel willing to take this type of case, the unwillingness of members of the same community bringing grievances against their own community, as well as the fear of retaliation from the unlawful practitioner.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Washington Attorney General:

1125 Washington Street SE

PO Box 40100

Olympia, WA 98504-0100
 
Consumer Protection Hotline: 1-800-551-4636 (in-state only)

Notary Public Agency:

Business and Professions Division
Department of Licensing

PO Box 9034

Olympia, WA 98507-9034
Tel: 360-664-1550
Email: intnotarie@dol.wa.gov

 

Becoming a Notary Public

Notary Publics are governed by statute, RCW §42.44.010-190. To become a notary public, one must:

  • Be 18 years old;
  • Reside in Washington or an adjoining state, but regularly employed in Washington or carry on business in Washington State;
  • Be able to read and write in English;
  • Be endorsed by three residents of Washington State who are not relatives of the applicant;
  • Have a surety bond of at least $10,000.

RCW §42.44.020

WASHINGTON D.C.

 

UPL Statute Summary

D.C. App. R. 49 – UPL Statute: “(a) General Rule. No person shall engage in the practice of law in the District of Columbia or in any manner hold out as authorized or competent to practice law in the District of Columbia unless enrolled as an active member of the District of Columbia Bar, except as otherwise permitted by these Rules.”

The D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act (DCPPA), D.C. Code §28-3901, et. Seq. provides guidance on UPL available here. The DCPPA prohibits:

  • “Representing that…services have a source, sponsorship, approval, certification…characteristics…uses…benefits…that they do not have.”
  • “Representing that the person has a sponsorship, approval, status, affiliation, certification, or connection that the person does not have.”
  • “Misrepresenting as to a material fact which has a tendency to mislead.”
  • “Failing to state a material fact if such failure tends to mislead.”

The DCPPA also allows for a private right of action. The penalties are greater of treble damages, or $1,500; reasonable attorney’s fees; punitive damages; injunctive relief. It has a 3 year statute of limitations.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL

Victims may contact the Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) here, or call them at (202)-442-4400, press “1” then press “6.”

Victims may also contact the Office of the Attorney General using their Consumer Protection Hotline at (202)-442-9828, or by email at consumer.protection@dc.gov. There is also an online complaint form which can be accessed here.

Complaints involving the unauthorized practice of law may also be directed to the Committee on the Unlicensed Practice of Law:

Attn: Derek Mitchell (Director of the Committee on the UPL)
District of Columbia Court of Appeals
500 Indiana Avenue, N.W., Room 4200
Washington, D.C. 20001
Tel: (202)-879-2715
Fax: (202)-879-2749
Email: dmitchell@dcappeals.gov

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

Ineffective assistance of counsel can be reported to the D.C. Bar using this form. The form can be submitted online, or mailed to:

Office of Bar Counsel
Board on Professional Responsibility
District of Columbia Court of Appeals
515 5th Street NW
Building A, Suite 117
Washington, DC 20001

 

Becoming a Notary Public

  • Must be 18 years of age
  • Must be a resident of the District of Columbia, or may be the resident of other jurisdictions so long as their place of business or employment is based in the District of Columbia. DC Code §1-1201.
  • Must fill out the Notary Public Application and mail to:
    Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications
    441 4th Street NW
    Suite 819 South
    Washington, DC 20001

There is also a notary search tool, available here.

WEST VIRGINIA

 

UPL Statute Summary

W. VA. Code §29C-7-201.  Action for injunction; unauthorized practice of law.

Upon his own information or upon complaint of any person, the attorney general, or his designee, may maintain an action for injunctive relief in circuit court against any notary public who renders, offers to render or holds himself out as rendering any service constituting the unauthorized practice of the law. Any organized bar association in this state may intervene in the action, at any stage of the proceeding, for good cause shown. The action may also be maintained by an organized bar association in this state or by the secretary of state.

 

Licensing Agency UPL Awareness

The Secretary of State Office seems to be aware of the issue of UPL as it is stated in the notary public handbook that UPL is official misconduct and may be grounds for dismissal from the position. The handbook can be accessed here.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL

A person can file a complaint on the based upon the West Virginia Consumer Protection Act:

§46A-6-104. Unlawful acts or practices.

Unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce are hereby declared unlawful.

The method and forms for filing a consumer complaint with the Attorney General can be found here.

One may also file a complaint with the State Bar. A summary of their jurisdiction is available here.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

To report ineffective assistance of counsel in West Virginia, send a complaint to the Lawyer Disciplinary Board available here.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Filing a Consumer Complaint:

Office of the West Virginia Attorney General
Consumer Protection/Antitrust Division
PO Box 1789
Charleston, WV 25326-1789

Filing a Complaint with the State Bar:

The West Virginia State Bar
2000 Deitrick Boulevard
Charleston, WV 25311-1231

 

Becoming a Notary Public

To become a notary public the following requirements must be fulfilled:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Be a legal resident of the United States
  • Be a resident of or have a place of employment in West Virginia
  • Be able to read and write English
  • Have a high school diploma or its equivalent
  • Have a high school diploma or its equivalent
  • Not be disqualified to receive a commission under W.Va. State Code §39-4-20(6)
  • Have a surety bond of at least $1,000 dollars.
  • Pay the $100 application fee

The Secretary of State has an online tool to look up current notaries that may be accessed here.

WISCONSIN

 

UPL Statute Summary

Wis. Stat. §757.30, Penalty for practicing without license

(1) Every person, who without having first obtained a license to practice law as an attorney of a court of record in this state, as provided by law, practices law within the meaning of sub. (2), or purports to be licensed to practice law as an attorney within the meaning of sub. (3), shall be fined not less than $50 nor more than $500 or imprisoned not more than one year in the county jail or both, and in addition may be punished as for a contempt.

(2) Every person who appears as agent, representative or attorney, for or on behalf of any other person, or any firm, partnership, association or corporation in any action or proceeding in or before any court of record, circuit or supplemental court commissioner, or judicial tribunal of the United States, or of any state, or who otherwise, in or out of court, for compensation or pecuniary reward gives professional legal advice not incidental to his or her usual or ordinary business, or renders any legal service for any other person, or any firm, partnership, association or corporation, shall be deemed to be practicing law within the meaning of this section.

(3) Every person who uses the words attorney at law, lawyer, solicitor, counselor, attorney and counselor, proctor, law, law office, or other equivalent words in connection with his or her name or any sign, advertisement, business card, letterhead, circular, notice, or other writing, document or design, the evident purpose of which is to induce others to believe or understand the person to be authorized to practice law or who in any other manner represents himself or herself either verbally or in writing, directly or indirectly, as authorized to practice law in this state, shall be deemed to be purporting to be licensed to practice law as an attorney within the meaning of this section.

(4) No person shall practice law in this state under any other given name or any other surname than that under which originally admitted to the bar of this or any other state, in any instance in which the board of bar examiners shall, after a hearing, find that practicing under the changed name operates to unfairly compete with another practitioner or to mislead the public as to identity or to otherwise result in detriment to the profession or the public. Any person violating this subsection shall be subject to the penalty provided in sub. (1). This subsection does not apply to a change of name resulting from marriage or divorce.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL

Victims may contact the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. A complaint form can be downloaded in English, Spanish or Hmong here. Include copies of important documents, such as the sales receipt, repair order, warranty, and/or cancelled check as soon as possible. You can attach documents to this form, email to datcphotline@wisconsin.gov, fax to 608-224-4939, or mail copies to:

Dept. of Agriculture Trade & Consumer Protection
Bureau of Consumer Protection

PO Box 8911

Madison, WI 53708-8911

Liability may be found under the Wisconsin Statutes §100.18 (Fraudulent Representation)

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

To report ineffective assistance of counsel in Wisconsin, use this instructional page from the Supreme Court of Wisconsin.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Wisconsin Dept. of Agriculture, trade and Consumer Protection:

Dept. of Agriculture Trade & Consumer Protection
PO Box 8911
Madison, WI 53708-8911
Tel: (608) 224-5012

Notary Public Information:

Department of Financial Institutions
201 W Washington Ave, Suite 300
PO Box 7847
Madison WI 53707
Tel: (608) 266-8915

 

Becoming a Notary Public

You must complete and submit the following:

  • Four-year Notary Public Application
  • Bond Form
  • Oath of Office Form
  • Certificate from passing the Notary Exam with 90% or better (www.wdfi.org/apps/NotaryTutorialExam/TableOfContents.aspx)
  • $20 filing fee made payable to the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (if not already submitted electronically)

To Apply for a 4 year Notary Public Commission, you may Apply Online or submit the Four Year Commission Form and the Notary Tutorial Exam Certificate along with the filing fee, to The Department of Financial Institutions.

The Secretary of State has a search tool of recently issued commissions or to locate any current notary, which can be accessed here.

WYOMING

 

UPL Statute Summary

Wyo. Stat. §33-5-117. Unauthorized practice.

It shall be unlawful, and punishable as contempt of court, for any person not a member of the Wyoming state bar to hold himself out or advertise by whatsoever means as an attorney or counselor-at-law.

Wyoming Consumer Protection Act §40-12-105. Unlawful practices.

(a) A person engages in a deceptive trade practice unlawful under this act when, in the course of his business and in connection with a consumer transaction, he knowingly:

( i ) Represents that merchandise has a source, origin, sponsorship, approval, accessories or uses it does not have;

( ii ) Represents that he has a sponsorship, approval or affiliation he does not have;

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL

A person can file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office based on the Wyoming Consumer Protection Act §40-12-105. Unlawful practices.

The complaint form can be accessed here.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

To report ineffective assistance of counsel in Wyoming, use the complaint page found on the Wyoming State Bar website, available here.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Filing a Consumer Complaint:

Wyoming Attorney General’s Office
Consumer Protection Unit
123 Capitol Building
Cheyenne, WY 82002

Notary Public Information:

Notary Officer
Secretary of State’s Office
State Capitol Building, 200 West 24th Street
Cheyenne, WY 82002-0020
Tel: (307) 777-7370

 

Becoming a Notary Public

To become a notary public the following requirements must be fulfilled:

  • Must be at least 18 years of age
  • A resident of the State of Wyoming and the county from which you are making application
  • Able to read and write in English
  • A convicted felon is not eligible to be a notary unless the felony has been
    • Reversed or annulled;
    • Pardoned; or
    • All rights have been restored pursuant to W.S. 7-13-105(a)
  • Complete the PDF application on a computer, print it out, mail the application
  • Include the $30 application fee
  • Obtain a $500 notary bond after notification of application acceptance

The application can be accessed here.