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

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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, accredited representatives, 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 means notary public in Spanish and notary publics in civil law societies have the authority to provide certain limited legal services. 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
Consumer Protection Section
P.O. Box 300152
Montgomery, AL 36130

To provide attachments or supplemental items to your complaint, please e-mail them to consumerinterest@ago.state.al.us

Liability may be found under the Alabama Deceptive Trade Practices Act, accessible Alabama Code 1975 § 8-19-1.

The Alabama State Bar also has a UPL Committee that 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
Consumer Protection Section
P.O. Box 300152
Montgomery, AL 36130-0152
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: 1-800-354-6154
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 or older and resident of Alabama
  • Must be a resident of county of application
  • A person convicted of a felony may not be able to become a Notary Public in AL unless a pardon restores his or her civil and political rights
  • The probate judges of each Alabama county set application rules and procedures for the commissioning Notaries.
  • Must possess all legal requirements to be an officer in the state
  • A resident of another U.S. state may not apply for an AL Notary commission
  • The completed application and a $25,000 bond must be submitted and approved by the county probate judge.  The probate judge may collect a fee of $10.  A fee may also be charged for filing the bond with the county.
  • 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

Alaska Department of Law:

Attorney General
1031 West 4th Avenue, Suite 200
Anchorage, AK 99501
Tel: (907) 269-5100
Fax: (907) 276-3697
TTY: (907) 258-9161
Email: attorney.general@alaska.gov

Notary Public Office

Office of the Lieutenant Governor
PO Box 110001
Juneau, AK 99811-0001
Tel: (907) 465-3509
Toll Free: (877) 764-1234
Email: notary@alaska.gov

 

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.

The 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.

  1. Every notary public who is not an attorney and 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."
  2. A notary public who is not an attorney may not render any service for compensation that constitutes the unauthorized practice of immigration and nationality law as defined in section 12-2701.
  3. If a notary public violates subsection B of this section, in addition to any other penalty, the secretary of state shall impose a civil penalty of not more than one thousand dollars and permanently revoke the notary public's commission.
  4. A notary public who violates subsection A of this section is guilty of a class 6 felony and the secretary of state shall permanently revoke the notary public's commission.

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 does 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 the Attorney General
Attn: Consumer Information and Complaints
2005 N Central Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85004

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:

Phoenix Office
2005 N Central Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85004-2926
Tel: (602) 542-5025 
Fax: (602) 542-4085
Tucson Office
400 West Congress
South Building, Suite 315
Tucson, AZ 85701-1367
Tel: (520) 628-6504
Fax: (520) 628-6530
Prescott Office
1000 Ainsworth Dr.
Suite A-210
Prescott, AZ 86305-1610
Tel: (928) 778-1265
Fax: (928) 778-1298

Arizona State Bar Association:

Main Office
4201 N. 24th Street, Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85016-6266
Tel:  (602) 252-4804
Toll Free: (866) 482-9227
Fax: (602) 271-4930
Southern Regional Office/Tucson
270 N. Church Ave, Suite 100
Tucson, AZ 85701-1113
Tel: (520) 623-9944
Fax: (520) 623-9974

Notary Public Information:

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

Consumer Information and Complaints

Email: consumerinfo@azag.gov
Phoenix: (602) 542-5763
Fax: (602) 542-4579
Tucson: (520) 628-6504

 

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."

  1. The notice shall be provided in both English and Spanish.

Arkansas Code § 16-22-208. Barratry or Maintenance—Disciplinary Action by Circuit and Chancery Courts

  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 of 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
Main Number: (501) 682-2007
Email: oag@ArkansasAG.gov
Consumer Protection: (800) 482-8982
Email: Consumer@ArkansasAG.gov
Crime Victims: (800) 448-3014

Arkansas Bar Association:

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

Secretary of State:

Arkansas Secretary of State
State Capitol, Suite 256
500 Woodlane Street
Little Rock, AR 72201
Tel: (501) 682-3409
Toll Free: (888) 233-0325

 

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 a state that borders Arkansas, but is employed in Arkansas.
  • Be able to read and write English.
  • Have not had a commission as a notary revoked during the past 10 years.
  • Has not been convicted of a felony.
  • Has reviewed 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 with 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.
 

California AB-638 Immigration Consultants

An act to amend and repeal Sections 22442.2, 22442.4, 22443.1, 22443.2, and 22443.3 of, and to amend, repeal, and add Sections 22440, 22441, 22441.1, and 22449 of, the Business and Professions Code, and to amend and repeal Section 8223 of the Government Code, relating to immigration consultants.

AB 638, as amended, Caballero. Immigration consultants.

  • Existing law regulates the practice of immigration consultants who provide nonlegal assistance or advice in an immigration matter. Existing law prohibits any person, for compensation, from engaging in the business or acting in the capacity of an immigration consultant in this state, unless that person complies with the regulations in state law governing the practice of immigration consultants, is an attorney, or is authorized by federal law to represent persons before the Board of Immigration Appeals or the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Existing law provides that immigration consultants, attorneys, notaries public, and organizations accredited by the United States Board of Immigration Appeals shall be the only individuals authorized to charge clients or prospective clients a fee for providing services associated with filing an application under a federal program referred to as the deferred action program, and prohibits immigration consultants, attorneys, notaries public, and organizations accredited by the United States Board of Immigration Appeals from participating in practices that amount to price gouging, as defined, when a client or prospective client solicits these services. Existing law establishes both criminal and civil penalties for a violation of specified provisions related to immigration consultants.
     
  • This bill, beginning on January 1, 2020, would make it unlawful for a person, for compensation, other than a person authorized to practice law in this state, or a person authorized to represent others under federal law in an immigration matter, or a paralegal acting under the active supervision of an attorney, to engage in the business or act in the capacity of an immigration consultant in this state. The bill would provide that the provisions described above do not apply to an automated immigration form population service. The bill would require the Secretary of State, in coordination with specified state agencies, to develop an Internet Web site that would include specified information related to immigration services available in California, including information related to persons recognized or accredited as authorized providers of immigration services by the United States Department of Justice. The bill would remove notaries public from the provisions described above relating to the federal deferred action program, and would, instead, authorize a paralegal to charge fees for services related to the deferred action program and subject a paralegal to the price gouging prohibition described above. By expanding the scope of an existing crime, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
     
  • The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL

The Attorney General’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 94277–2870
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

The State Bar of California

San Francisco
(Main Office)
180 Howard St.
San Francisco, CA 94105
Tel: (415) 538-2000
Los Angeles
845 Figueroa St.
Los Angeles, CA 90017
Tel: (213) 765-1000

Notary Public

Mailing Address
Business Programs Division
Notary Public & Special Filings Section
P.O. Box 942877
Sacramento, California 94277-0001
Physical Location
1500 -11th Street, 2nd Floor
Sacramento, California 95814
Tel: (916) 623-3595

 

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 2012last 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 a legal resident of the State of California;
  • Be at least 18 years of age;
  • Satisfactorily complete a course of study approved by the Secretary of State;
  • Pass a written examination prescribed by the Secretary of State; and
  • Pass 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
    • Conviction of a disqualifying misdemeanor

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

 

COLORADO

 

UPL Statute Summary 

Colorado Revised Statutes 24-21-525. Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts - Penalties. 

1. A commission as a notary public does not authorize an individual to: 

(a) Assist persons in drafting legal records, give legal advice, or otherwise practice law; 
(b) Act as an immigration consultant or an expert on immigration matters; 
(c) Represent a person in a judicial or administrative proceeding relating to immigration to the United States, United States citizenship, or related matters; or 
(d) Receive compensation for performing any of the activities listed in this subsection (1). 

2. A notary public shall not engage in false or deceptive advertising. 

3. A notary public, other than an attorney licensed to practice law in this state, shall not use the term "notario" or "notario publico". 

4. A notary public, other than an attorney licensed to practice law in this state, shall not advertise or represent that the notary public may assist persons in drafting legal records, give legal advice, or otherwise practice law. If a notary public who is not an attorney licensed to practice law in this state in any manner advertises or represents that the notary public offers notarial services, whether orally or in a record, including broadcast media, print media, and the internet, the notary public shall include the following statement, or an alternate statement authorized or required by the secretary of state, in the advertisement or representation, prominently and in each language used in the advertisement or representation: "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. I am not an immigration consultant, nor am I an expert on immigration matters. If you suspect fraud, you may contact the Colorado attorney general's office or the Colorado supreme court." If the form of advertisement or representation is not broadcast media, print media, or the internet and does not permit inclusion of the statement required by this subsection (4) because of size, it must be displayed prominently or provided at the place of performance of the notarial act before the notarial act is performed. 
 

5. A notary public, other than an attorney licensed to practice law in this state, shall not engage in conduct that constitutes a deceptive trade practice pursuant to section 6-1-727. 

6. Except as otherwise allowed by law, a notary public shall not withhold access to or possession of an original record provided by a person that seeks performance of a notarial act by the notary public. 

7. A notary public shall not perform any notarial act with respect to a record that is blank or that contains unfilled blanks in its text. 

  

Licensing Agency UPL Awareness 

A notary complaint form can be accessed here. For more resources from the Secretary of State page, use this link.  

  

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 2017 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 2017, the Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee took action on 18 unauthorized practice of law matters, and 34 complaints were dismissed by Regulation Counsel, for a total of 52 completed matters. See Table 28.” 

See Colo. RPC. Rule 5.5. Unauthorized Practice of Law: Multijurisdictional Practice of Law. 

  

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies 

Attorney General: 

Colorado Department of Law
Consumer Protection Section, UCCC
Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center
1300 Broadway, 6th Floor
Denver, CO  80203 
Consumer Complaints, Notifications, & Information:
Tel: (720) 508-6012
Fax:(720) 508-6033
Email: uccc@coag.gov 

Colorado Bar Association: 

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

Secretary of State: 

Colorado Department of State 
1700 Broadway 
Suite 200 
Denver, CO 80290 
Tel: (303) 894-2200 & press 4 
Fax: (303) 869-4871 
Email: notary@sos.state.co.us 

  

Becoming a Notary Public 

  • To be eligible to be a notary public in Colorado, one must: 
  • Be18 years of age or older, 
  • Bea citizen or permanently legal resident of the United States or otherwise lawfully present in the United States, 
  • Be a resident or have a place of employment or practice in Colorado, 
  • Read and write the English language, 
  • Not be disqualified to receive a commission under section 24-21-523 (I) including: 
    • Have never been convicted of a felony 
    • Have not been convicted of a misdemeanor involving dishonesty in the past five years 
    • Have never had a notary commission revoked, and 
    • Have passed the Colorado notary exam after completing training. 
  • Apply online and attach scanned copies of: 
    • Affirmation (PDF) form signed and notarized, 
    • Both sides of acceptable identification, 
    • Notary training certificate, 
    • Notary exam certificate, and 
    • If you are not a U.S. citizen, a copy of both sides of your permanent resident card or visa. 

The filing fee can be paid online by credit or debit card. 
See the Fee schedule

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.

a. 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. Or
  8. Otherwise engage in the practice of law as defined by statute or rule of the Superior Court   

b. 

  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.
     
  4. 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.   

d. 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
450 Columbus Blvd., Ste. 901
Hartford CT 06103
Fax: (860) 707-1966
Email: dcp.complaints@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
450 Columbus Boulevard, Suite 901
Hartford, CT 06103-1840
Tel: (860) 713-6100
Consumer Complaint Center: (860) 713-6300
Toll Free: (800) 842-2649
Fax: (860) 713-7239
Email: dcp.complaints@ct.gov

Connecticut Bar Association:

30 Bank Street
PO Box 350
New Britain, CT 06050-0350
Tel: (860) 223-4400
Fax: (860) 223-4488

Secretary of State:

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

Notary Public

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

 

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. For more information, you may follow this link.

 

DELAWARE

 

UPL Statute Summary

Delaware Supreme Court Rule 86. Unauthorized Practice of Law Subcommittee of the Board on Professional Responsibility.

The Unauthorized Practice of Law Subcommittee of the Board on Professional Responsibility is governed by Supreme Court Rule 62 and the Rules of the Unauthorized Practice of Law Subcommittee of the Board on Professional Responsibility.

Delaware Supreme Court Rule 62. Board on Professional Responsibility.

(b) The Unauthorized Practice of Law Subcommittee of the Board on Professional Responsibility. There shall be an Unauthorized Practice of Law Subcommittee of the Board on Professional Responsibility consisting of members of the Board on Professional Responsibility. The Court shall from time to time select a Subcommittee Chair and Vice Chair as it deems necessary and appropriate. The Subcommittee shall sit in panels of 3, consisting of 2 members of the Bar and 1 public member who lives in Delaware and has not attended law school. The Rules of the Subcommittee are set forth in the Rules of the Unauthorized Practice of Law Subcommittee of the Board on Professional Responsibility

For more information regarding the Board on Professional Responsibility use this link provided by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

 

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, which can be found under their Frequently Asked Questions 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 Office of Disciplinary Counsel 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
The Renaissance Centre
405 North King Street, Suite 420
Wilmington, Delaware 19801

 

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
Tel; (302) 577-8600
Para asistencia en Español: (877) 851-0482
Fax: (302) 577-6499
Email: attorney.general@state.de.us

Notary Public Information:

Physical address
Townsend Building
401 Federal Street
Dover, DE 19901
Tel: (302) 739-4111 and press 3
Fax: (302) 622-4466
Email: notary@delaware.gov
Mailing address
Secretary of State
Notary Public Section
P.O. Box 898
Dover, DE 19903

 

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 have a legal residence with a street address in Delaware OR maintain an office or regular place of employment within the State of Delaware. NOTE: Notaries are NOT permitted to notarize outside of the boundaries of the State of Delaware. In order to qualify, non-resident notaries must demonstrate they would regularly conduct notarial acts in the State of Delaware and provide a valid Delaware business address for the employer or company where service of legal process would be accepted. Use of a post office box, virtual office space, or a registered agent does NOT qualify.Must have a reasonable need for a notary commission
  • Must submit form and application fee
  • Application process and more information can be accessed here. For more information, you may follow this link.

 

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
Hotline: 1-866-966-7226
www.myfloridalegal.com

Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services:

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Division of Consumer Services
P.O Box 6700
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-6700
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.

Here 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.

Under Fla. Stat. Ann. § 117.01(4)(f), a notary public may be suspended for the unauthorized practice of law.

Fla. Stat. Ann. § 117.05 provides that a notary public who is not an attorney who advertises the services of a notary public in a language other than English must include with the advertisement a notice in English and in the language used for the advertisement. The notice must clearly state:

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

 

GEORGIA

 

UPL Statute Summary

Georgia Code 15-19-51. Unauthorized practice of law forbidden.

 (a) It shall be unlawful for any person other than a duly licensed attorney at law:

  1. To practice or appear as an attorney at law for any person other than himself in any court of this state or before any judicial body;
  2. To make it a business to practice as an attorney at law for any person other than himself in any of such courts;
  3. To hold himself out to the public or otherwise to any person as being entitled to practice law;
  4. To render or furnish legal services or advice;
  5. To furnish attorneys or counsel;
  6. To render legal services of any kind in actions or proceedings of any nature;
  7. To assume or use or advertise the title of "lawyer," "attorney," "attorney at law," or equivalent terms in any language in such manner as to convey the impression that he is entitled to practice law or is entitled to furnish legal advice, services, or counsel; or
  8. To advertise that either alone or together with, by, or through any person, whether a duly and regularly admitted attorney at law or not, he has, owns, conducts, or maintains an office for the practice of law or for furnishing legal advice, services, or counsel.

(b) Unless otherwise provided by law or by rules promulgated by the Supreme Court, it shall be unlawful for any corporation, voluntary association, or company to do or perform any of the acts recited in subsection (a) of this Code section.

There is also a law, passed in 2008, regulating “Immigration Assistance Providers” in O.C.G.A. § 43-20A-5. Permissible services; terms of contract for immigration services.

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 Division
237 Coliseum Drive
Macon, GA 31217-3858
Local: (478) 207-2440
Toll Free: (844) 753-7825

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
Tel: (800) 344-6865

 

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
Leipapa A Kamehameha Building
235 South Beretania Street, Room 801
Honolulu, HI 96813-2419
Tel: (808) 586-2630
Fax: (808) 586-2640

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
Tel: (808) 586-1218

 

Becoming a Notary Public

  • At least 18 years of age
  • A Hawaii Resident
  • A United States citizen or a national or permanent resident alien of the U.S. who diligently seeks citizenship upon becoming eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship
  • Must submit an application to the Attorney General.
  • Once the application is approves, the applicant must pass a written closed-book examination. The passing score is 80 percent.
  • The application fee for commission of notary public commission is $20.00.
  • Must obtain a surety bond

The Notaries Public Division has a search tool of recently issued commissions or to locate any current Hawaii 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:

Idaho State Bar 
Office of Bar Counsel
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  
525 West Jefferson   
Boise, ID 83702
Tel: (208) 334-4500
Fax: (208) 334-4515 or (208) 334-2764
(Mailing address)
PO Box 895
Boise, ID 83701

Notary Public Information:

Secretary of State
450 N 4th Street
Boise, ID 83702
Tel: (208) 332-2810
Email: NTAA@sos.idaho.gov

 

Becoming a Notary Public

As described on the handbook:

  • Notaries are appointed by the Secretary of State for terms of six years.
  • Each applicant for appointment must:
  1. Be a citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States
  2. Be at least 18 years old
  3. Be a resident of, have a place of employment or place of practice in Idaho
  4. Be able to read and write the English language

Not be disqualified to receive a commission pursuant to Idaho Code §51-123

  • 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.

Under Idaho Statute §51-125, A commission as a notary public does not authorize an individual to:

  1. Assist persons in drafting legal records, give legal advice or otherwise practice law;
  2. Act as an immigration consultant or an expert on immigration matters;
  3. Represent a person in a judicial or administrative proceeding relating to immigration to the United States, United States citizenship or related matters; or
  4. Receive compensation for performing any of the activities listed in this subsection.

Additionally, a notary public, other than an attorney licensed to practice law in this state, may not use the term "notario" or "notario publico."

 

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. Completing a government agency form, requested by the customer and appropriate to the customer's needs, only if the completion of that form does not involve a legal judgment for that particular matter.
  2. Transcribing responses to a government agency form which is related to an immigration matter, but not advising a customer as to his or her answers on those forms.
  3. Translating information on forms to a customer and translating the customer's answers to questions posed on those forms.
  4. Securing for the customer supporting documents currently in existence, such as birth and marriage certificates, which 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 performing the service is a notary public of the State of 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 (including X-rays and AIDS tests) and the obtaining of reports of such test results.
  10. Conducting English language and civics courses.
  11. Other services that the Attorney General determines by rule may be appropriately performed by such person in light of the purposes of this Section.

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 62701
Tel: (217) 782-1090
Toll Free: 1-800-243-0618
TTY: 1-877-844-5461
If sending complaint in Spanish, send to:
Procuradora General de Illinois Departamento de Fraude al Consumidor
100 West Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60601
Tel: (866) 310-8398

Illinois State Bar Association:

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 never been convicted of a felony
  • Have never had a notary commission revoked during the past 10 years.
  • Complete the application form provided by the Secretary of State
  • Obtain a notary bond valued at $5,000 from a bonding or  surety company

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.

5 ILCS 312/3-103 forbids a notary public who is not an attorney to represent, hold themselves out or advertise that they are experts on immigration matters or provide any other assistance that requires legal analysis, legal judgment, or interpretation of the law.  Additionally, notaries public are forbidden from literally translating the title ‘notary public’ from English into another language.  The use of the word “notario” is prohibited under this section.

 

 

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:

Indiana Secretary of State
Notary Division
200 W. Washington St.
Room 201
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Tel: (317) 234-9768
Email: notary@sos.in.gov

Attorney General’s Office:

Attorney General
Consumer Protection Division
302 West Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Tel: (317) 232-6330 or (800) 362-5516

 

Becoming a Notary Public

One must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Be a legal resident of the State of Indiana or primarily employed in INidiana
  • Not be disqualified to receive a commission under IC 33-4-13 and IC 5-8-3-1
    • IC 33-4-12 Have a conviction or civil ruling involving deceit, dishonesty or fraud
    • IC 5-6-3-1 Have served more than six (6) months in jail
  • Have your driver’s license information available
  • Have your employment information available, if applicable.
  • Have you $25,000 surety bond (term of eight years) for upload in the application
  • Have a sample of your signature for upload in the application
  • Complete the notary public course of education. You will be required to pass a test on this material.
  • 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 is known as the Commission on the Unauthorized Practice of Law (commission). This commission comprises seven lawyer members and two nonlawyer members, all of whom are appointed by the supreme court. The supreme court may accept nominations for appointment to the commission from any association of lawyers that maintains an office within the State of Iowa or any lawyer licensed in Iowa. The court will designate annually one lawyer commission member to be the chair. Members may serve no more than three three-year terms, and a member who has served three full terms is not eligible for reappointment. The commission’s purpose is to 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
First Floor, Lucas Building
321 E. 12th Street
Des Moines, IA 50319
Tel: (515) 281-5204
TTY: Call 711 followed by (515) 281-5204
Fax: (515) 242-5953
Email: sos@sos.iowa.gov

Iowa Attorney General:

Office of the Attorney General of Iowa
Consumer Protection Division
Hoover State Office Building
1305 E. Walnut Street
Des Moines IA 50319-0106
Tel: (515) 281-5926
Toll Free: 1-888-777-4590
Fax: (515) 281-6771
Email: consumer@ag.iowa.gov

 

Becoming a Notary Public

To be a notary a person a person must:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Be a citizen or legal permanent resident of the United States.
  • 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.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

Ineffective assistance of counsel information can be found here.

The Kansas Attorney General's Office handles complaints and investigation requests regarding a number of issues. Please use this link to file online.

 

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
TTY/TTD: 1-800-766-3777
Fax: (785) 296-4570
Email: sos@ks.gov
Email: notary@ks.gov

Office of Attorney General:

Attorney General
Consumer Protection Division
120 SW 10th Ave, 2nd Floor
Topeka, KS 66612-1597
Tel: (785) 296-2215
Hotline: 1-800-432-2310
Fax: (785) 291-3699

 

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 $7,500.
  • Pay $25 application fee

The application may be accessed here.

The Notary Public Handbook may be accessed here and the Frequently Asked Questions page can be found here.

Kansas Statute §53-121. provides that:

(a) A notary public who is not admitted to the practice of law in this state 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 in which such notarial services are offered, as follows: "I AM NOT AUTHORIZED TO PRACTICE LAW AND HAVE NO AUTHORITY TO GIVE ADVICE ON IMMIGRATION LAW OR OTHER LEGAL MATTERS."
(b) A notary public who is not admitted to the practice of law in this state shall not use the term "notario publico" or any equivalent non-English term in any business card, advertisement, notice or sign unless it complies with the requirements of subsection (a).

 

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:

Mailing address
Notary Branch
P.O. Box 821
Frankfort, KY 40602-0821
Physical address
700 Capital Ave.
Suite 156
Frankfort, KY 40610
Tel: (502) 564-3490
Fax: (502) 564-5687

Attorney General:

Office of Attorney General
Consumer Protection Division
1024 Capital Center Drive, Suite 200
Frankfort, KY 40601
Tel: (502) 696-5389
Fax: (502) 564-2894
Hotline: (888) 432-9257

Kentucky Bar Association:

Office of Bar Counsel
514 West Main Street
Frankfort, KY 40601-1812
Tel: (502) 564-3765

 

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

You can also submit the form online. For more information, you can refer to the Notary Public Handbook. 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. Persons, professional associations, professional corporations, and limited liability companies entitled to practice law; penalty for unlawful practice

  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
Tel: (225) 326-6465 or (800) 351-4889
Fax: (225) 326-6499
Email: ConsumerInfo@ag.louisiana.gov

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 

This section may be known and cited as "the Immigration and Nationality Law Assistance Act." 

3. Nonlegal immigration and nationality law assistance authorized.  A person offering immigration and nationality law assistance may offer or provide only nonlegal immigration and nationality law assistance, except, however, that an attorney admitted to and in good standing before the bar of the State or a federally authorized immigration representative may provide immigration and nationality law assistance in the form of representation to the extent authorized by federal laws and regulations in immigration proceedings before agencies of the United States Department of Homeland Security, the United States Department of Justice, the United States Department of Labor or the United States Department of State or other federal agency charged with carrying out the implementation of federal immigration and nationality laws. 

Nothing in this section is intended to nor does it authorize either an attorney who is not admitted to and in good standing before the bar of the State or a federally authorized immigration representative to offer legal opinions or general legal advice regarding state laws or to represent another before any state court, administrative agency or other forum charged with interpreting or implementing state laws. 

4. Prohibited activities.  In the course of dealing with customers or prospective customers, a provider of immigration and nationality law assistance may not: 

A. Make a statement that the provider of immigration and nationality law assistance can or will obtain special favors from or has special influence with an agency or a tribunal of the United States Government or of any state government;  

E. Provide legal advice regarding immigration and nationality law matters, including selecting immigration forms for a customer or advising a customer as to the appropriateness of the forms the customer has selected or as to the customer's answers to the questions on the forms, unless the provider of immigration and nationality law assistance is an attorney admitted to and in good standing before the bar of the State or is a federally authorized immigration representative; or 

F. Represent or advertise or provide notice in any way or manner, including, but not limited to, the assertion of a title or credential such as "notario," "immigration consultant," "immigration agent," "immigration assistant" or "attorney," that could cause a customer to believe that the provider of immigration and nationality law assistance is authorized to practice law in the State or possesses special skill or expertise in immigration and nationality law matters 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 federally authorized immigration representative whose principal place of business is in the State shall give verbal notice to customers that the federally authorized immigration representative is not an attorney admitted to the bar of the State and may not give general legal advice or representation under state law and shall also include language in any written advertisement, notice or contract for services that clearly conveys that the federally authorized immigration representative is not an attorney admitted to practice law in the State and may not give general legal advice or assistance under state law. 

5. Unfair method of competition or unfair and deceptive act or practice.  A violation of this section substantially affects the public interest and constitutes an unfair method of competition and a deceptive act or practice in the conduct of trade or commerce for purposes of the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act. 

6. Civil violation.  A violation of this section constitutes a civil violation for which a fine of not more than $5,000 may be adjudged. 

  

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: 

Office of the Attorney General 
6 State House Station 
Augusta, ME 04333 
Tel: (207) 626-8800 

Instructions to File a Complaint: 
Write a letter to: 

Attorney General's Consumer  
Information and Mediation Service  
6 State House Station  
Augusta, Maine 04333  
Tel: (207) 626-8849  
Toll Free: 1-800-436-2131 
Email: consumer.mediation@maine.gov  

Notary Public 

Physical location:  
111 Sewall St. 
Burton Cross State Office Building, 4th floor 
Augusta, ME 04330 
Mailing Address 
101 State House Station 
Augusta, ME 04333-0101 
Tel: (207) 619-0806  
Email: cec.notaries@state.me.us 

Board of Overseers  

Board of Overseers of the Bar 
97 Winthrop Street 
P. O. Box 527 
Augusta, Maine 04332-0527 
Tel: (207) 623-1121 
Fax: (207) 623-4175 
Email: board@mebaroverseers.org 

  

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 Code, Business Occupations & Professions, §10-601. Bar admission required to practice law in the State 

(a) 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. 
(b) 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. 

(c) 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 Code, Business Occupations & Professions §10-602.   Representations to the public; practice of law 

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. 


MD Code, Commercial Law, T. 14, Subt. 33, - Maryland Immigration Consultant 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.” 


MD Code, Commercial Law, §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. 

MD Rules Attorneys, Rule 19-305.5 Unauthorized Practice of Law, Mult-Juridictional Practice of Law  

(a) An attorney shall not practice law in a jurisdiction in violation of the regulation of the legal profession in that jurisdiction, or assist another in doing so. 
(b) An attorney who is not admitted to practice in this jurisdiction shall not: 

  1. except as authorized by these Rules or other law, establish an office or other systematic and continuous presence in this jurisdiction for the practice of law; or 
  2. hold out to the public or otherwise represent that the attorney is admitted to practice law in this jurisdiction. 

(c) An attorney admitted in another United States jurisdiction, and not disbarred or suspended from practice in any jurisdiction, may provide legal services on a temporary basis in this jurisdiction that: 

  1. are undertaken in association with an attorney who is admitted to practice in this jurisdiction and who actively participates in the matter; 
  2. are in or reasonably related to a pending or potential proceeding before a tribunal in this or another jurisdiction, if the attorney, or a person the attorney is assisting, is authorized by law or order to appear in such proceeding or reasonably expects to be so authorized; 
  3. are in or reasonably related to a pending or potential arbitration, mediation, or other alternative dispute resolution proceeding in this or another jurisdiction, if the services arise out of or are reasonably related to the attorney's practice in a jurisdiction in which the attorney is admitted to practice and are not services for which the forum requires pro hac vice admission; or 
  4. are not within subsections (c)(2) or (c)(3) of this Rule and arise out of or are reasonably related to the attorney's practice in a jurisdiction in which the attorney is admitted to practice. 

(d) An attorney admitted in another United States jurisdiction, and not disbarred or suspended from practice in any jurisdiction, may provide legal services in this jurisdiction that: 

  1. are provided to the attorney's employer or its organizational affiliates and are not services for which the forum requires pro hac vice admission; or 
  2. are services that the attorney is authorized to provide by federal law or other law of this jurisdiction. 

 

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

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 
Tel: (410) 974-5520  
Toll Free: 1-888-874-0013 ext. 3861 
Email: dlnotary_sos@maryland.gov  

Office of Attorney General: 

Baltimore Metro Area (main) 
Office of Maryland Attorney General 
Consumer Protection Division    
Tel: (410) 576-6300  
En español: (410) 230-1712  
Consumer Hotline: (410) 528-8662 
Toll Free 1-888-743-0023 
Fax: (410) 576-7040          
Consumer Protection Email: consumer@oag.state.md.us     
Attorney General Email: oag@oag.state.md.us 
Western Maryland 
Consumer Protection Division office 
44 North Potomac Street, Suite 104 
Hagerstown, MD 21740 
Tel: (301) 791-4780  
Eastern Shore 
Consumer Protection Division Office 
District Court 
201 Baptist Street, Suite 30 
Salisbury, MD 21801 
Tel: (410) 713-3620 
Prince George’s County 
Consumer Protection Division Office 
9200 Basil Court, Suite 301 
Largo, MD 20774 
el: (301) 386-6200 
Southern Maryland 
Consumer Protection Division office 
15045 Burnt Store Road 
Hughesville, MD 20637 
Mailing address: 
P.O. Box 745 
Hughesville, MD 20637 
Tel: (301) 274-4620  
Toll Free 1-866-366-8343 

2nd Tuesday of the month 
Please call to verify hours of operation before coming into this office. 
Cumberland Area Telephone Assistance 
Tel: (301) 722-2000 ext. 6417 

9 a.m. to 12 p.m., 3rd Tuesday of the month 
Frederick Area Telephone Assistance 
Tel: (301) 600-1071 

9 a.m. to 1 p.m., 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month 

Office of Bar Counsel 

Office of Bar Counsel 
200 Harry S. Truman Parkway 
Suite 300 
Annapolis, MD 21401 
Tel: (410) 514-7051   

 

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 $9.00 non-refundable processing fee. 

The application may be accessed here
The Notary Public Handbook may be accessed here and the Secretary of State Notary Division can 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 
State House 
24 Beacon Street, Room 184 
Boston, MA 02133 

Attorney General: 

Office of the Attorney General 
Consumer Advocacy & Response Division  
One Ashburton Place, 18th Floor 
Boston, MA 02108 
Tel: (671) 727-8400 
Consumer Hotline: (617) 727-8400 

To complete a complaint form in person or to speak directly with a consumer specialist. 
Office locations: 

Boston  
100 Cambridge Street, 11th Floor  
Boston, MA 02114 
New Bedford 
105 William Street, First Floor  
New Bedford, MA 02740 
Springfield 
1441 Main Street, 12th Floor  
Springfield, MA 01103 
Worcester  
10 Mechanic Street, Suite 301 
Worcester, MA 01608  

Attorney and Consumer Assistance Program 

Attorney and Consumer Assistance Program 
Office of the Bar Counsel 
99 High Street, 2nd floor 
Boston, Massachusetts 02110  
Tel: (617) 728-8750  
Fax: (617) 728-8875 

  

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) 335-7599  
Toll free 1-877-765-8388.  
Fax: (517) 241-3771 
Email: miag@mi.gov  

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 
306 Townsend St. 
Lansing, MI 48933 
Phone: (517) 346-6300 
Toll Free: (800) 968-1442 
Fax: (517) 482-6248 

  

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.. 

For more information you may follow this link. 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.Prohibitions.

it shall be unlawful for any person or association of persons, except members of the bar of Minnesota admitted and licensed to practice as attorneys at law, to appear as attorney or counselor at law in any action or proceeding in any court in this state to maintain, conduct, or defend the same, except personally as a party thereto in other than a representative capacity, or, by word, sign, letter, or advertisement, to hold out 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 to others the services of a lawyer or lawyers, or, for a fee or any consideration, to give legal advice or counsel, perform for or furnish to another legal services, or, for or without a fee or any consideration, to prepare, directly or through another, for another person, firm, or corporation, any will or testamentary disposition or instrument of trust serving purposes similar to those of a will, or, for a fee or any consideration, to prepare for another person, firm, or corporation, any other legal document, except as provided in subdivision 3. 
 

  • Subdivision 8.Penalty; injunction. 

(a) Any person or corporation, or officer or employee thereof, violating any of the foregoing provisions shall be guilty of a misdemeanor; and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished as by statute provided for the punishment of misdemeanors. It shall be the duty of the respective county attorneys in this state to prosecute violations of this section, and the district courts of this state shall have sole original jurisdiction of any such offense under this section. 

(b) A county attorney or the attorney general may, in the name of the state of Minnesota, or in the name of the State Board of Law Examiners, proceed by injunction suit against any violator of any of the provisions above set forth to enjoin the doing of any act or acts violating any of said provisions. 

(c) In addition to the penalties and remedies provided in paragraphs (a) and (b), the public and private penalties and remedies in section 8.31 apply to violations of this section. 
 

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

In addition to the penalties provided by law for violation of the laws referred to in subdivision 1, specifically and generally, whether or not injunctive relief is otherwise provided by law, the courts of this state are vested with jurisdiction to prevent and restrain violations of those laws, to require the payment of civil penalties, to require payment into the general fund, and to appoint administrators as provided in subdivision 3c. On becoming satisfied that any of those laws has been or is being violated, or is about to be violated, the attorney general shall be entitled, on behalf of the state; (a) to sue for and have injunctive relief in any court of competent jurisdiction against any such violation or threatened violation without abridging the penalties provided by law; and (b) to sue for and recover for the state, from any person who is found to have violated any of the laws referred to in subdivision 1, a civil penalty, in an amount to be determined by the court, not in excess of $25,000. All sums recovered by the attorney general under this section shall be deposited in the general fund. 
 

Minn. Stat. §325E.031 - Immigration Services 

  • Subdivison. 2.Notice. 

(a) Any person who provides or offers immigration assistance services in this state shall post a notice at that person's place of business, setting forth information in English and in every other language in which the person provides or offers to provide immigration assistance services. Each language must be on a separate sign and posted in a location visible to customers. Each sign must be at least 11 inches by 17 inches and must contain the following statements: 

  1. "I AM NOT AN ATTORNEY LICENSED TO PRACTICE LAW AND MAY NOT GIVE LEGAL ADVICE OR ACCEPT FEES FOR LEGAL ADVICE." 
  2. "I AM NOT ACCREDITED TO REPRESENT YOU BEFORE THE UNITED STATES CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES AND THE IMMIGRATION BOARD OF APPEALS." 

(b) Any person who advertises immigration assistance services in a language other than English, whether by radio, television, signs, pamphlets, newspapers, or other written communication, with the exception of a single desk plaque, shall post or otherwise include with the advertisement a notice in English and the language in which the advertisement appears that contains the language in paragraph (a), clause (1) 

  

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPIL 

The Minnesota 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 
Tel: (651) 296-3952 
Toll free: 1-800-657-3601 
Fax (651) 297-5801 
TTY:1-800-627-352927-3529 

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 

Attorney General 

Office of Minnesota Attorney General 
445 Minnesota Street, Suite 1400  
St. Paul, MN 55101 
Tel: (651) 296-3353 (Twin Cities Calling Area)  
Toll Free: (800) 657-3787 (Outside the Twin Cities)  

  

Becoming a Notary Public 

To obtain a New Commissionthe applicant must: 

  • Not have held a previous commission that has expired 
  • Complete and mail the Notary Application 
  • Pay the $120 non-refundable fee 
  • Be at least 18 years of age 
  • Be either a Minnesota resident or a resident of a county in Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota or Wisconsin and list the Minnesota County he or she will be filing in upon receiving their commission. 

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

You may access the Secretary of State’s website for detailed information on the Notary Public process, forms, and training supplies here.  You may use this tool to search for licensed notaries here. 

 

 

MISSISSIPPI 

 

UPL Statute Summary 

Miss. Code Ann. §25-33-27. 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 Section 292.2(a-e) or any subsequent federal law. 
 

Miss. Admin. Code §1-5-5.9 - Unauthorized Practice of Law 

A. If notarial certificate wording is not provided or indicated for a document, a nonattorney notary shall not determine the type of notarial act or certificate to be used. 

B. A non-attorney notary shall not assist another person in drafting, completing, selecting, or understanding a document or transaction requiring a notarial act. 

C. This section does not preclude a notary 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. 

D. A notary shall not claim to have powers, qualifications, rights, or privileges that the office of notary does not provide, including the power to counsel on immigration matters. 

E. A non-attorney notary who advertises notarial services in a language other than English shall include in the advertisement, notice, letterhead, or sign the following, prominently displayed in the same language: 

  1. The statement: “I am not an attorney and have no authority to give advice on immigration or other legal matters”; and 
  2. The fees for notarial acts specified in Section 302. 
  3. A notary may not use the term “notario publico” or any equivalent non-English term in any business card, advertisement, notice, or sign. 

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 Division 
Notary Public Commisions         
P. O. Box 136 
Jackson, MS 39205 
Toll-Free: (800) 256-3494 
Phone: (601) 359-1615 
Fax: (601) 576-1310 

Attorney General: 

Office of Consumer Protection 
Attorney General, State of Mississippi 
PO Box 22947 
Jackson, MS 39225-2947 
Tel: (601) 359-4230 
Fax: (601) 359-4231 
Toll Free: 800-281-4418 

 The Mississippi Bar 

Street Address 
643 North State Street 
Jackson, MS 39202 
Mailing Address 
P.O. Box 2168 
Jackson, MS 39225-2168 
Tel: (601) 948-4471 
Fax: (601) 355-8635 

 

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. 

For more information, you may access the Secretary of State website here. You may use the notary search tool here.  

 

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
Supreme Court Building
207 W. High St.
PO Box 899
Jefferson City, MO 65102
Tel: (573) 751-3321
Fax: (573) 751-0774
Consumer Protection Hotline: 800-393-8222
Email: consumer.help@ago.mo.gov

Notary Information:

Physical Address
Notaries & Commissions Unit
James C. Kirkpatrick State Information Center
600 West Main, Room 322
Jefferson City, MO 65101
Toll free: 1-866-223-6535
Telephone: (573) 751-2783
Fax: (573) 751-8199
Mailing Address
Notaries & Commissions Unit
James C. Kirkpatrick State Information Center
PO Box 784 
Jefferson City, MO 65102

 

Becoming a Notary Public

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

  • Be at least 18 years of age;
  • Be a registered voter of the county within and for which the applicant is to be commissioned, or a resident alien of the United States;
  • Apply for the county in which they legally reside and be commissioned for this same county;
  • Be able to read and write the English language; and
  • Must not have had a commission revoked during the past ten years.

A non-resident of Missouri may apply for a commission as a notary public. A non-resident must also meet certain legal requirements in order to qualify:

  • Be at least 18 years of age;
  • Employed in Missouri and use the notary seal in the course of their employment only;
  • Have an employee address in the county for which they are commissioned;
  • Be able to read and write the English language;
  • Must not have had a commission revoked in any state during the past ten years; and
  • Must authorize the secretary of state as their agent and representative to accept service of any process or service of any notice or demand required or permitted by law to be served upon them.

As either a resident or non-resident applicant, the applicant must also indicate on their application whether or not they have ever been convicted of or pled guilty or nolo contendere to any felony, or to any misdemeanor incompatible with the duties of a notary public, and if so, shall attach a list of such convictions or pleas of guilt or nolo contendere.
 

Any person is eligible to apply for a commission as a notary public if they are a permanent resident alien under Section 245 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. If the applicant qualifies under Section 245, they must send a copy of their “green card” with a completed application to our office.
 

If the notary is presently commissioned as a non-resident notary public and they move into Missouri, the notary may immediately be appointed and commissioned as a notary upon becoming a resident. The notary will need to return their nonresident notary certificate with a request to cancel that commission, along with a completed reapplication as a resident and the $25 fee for issuing another commission.

Application and application process may be accessed here.

 

 

Montana 

 

UPL Statute Summary 

Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (RULONA), MCA 1-5-625, MT ST 1-5-625 - Prohibited acts--advertising requirements 

(1) A notary public may not: 

(e) advertise or represent that the notary public, unless also licensed as an attorney in this state, is able to assist persons in drafting legal records, give legal advice, or otherwise practice law. To meet the requirements of this subsection (1)(e), advertising must include the statement provided in subsection (4). 

(g) unless the notary public is an attorney licensed to practice law in this state, use the term "notario" or "notario publico". 
 

(3) A commission as a notary public does not authorize an individual to: 

(a) assist persons in drafting legal records, give legal advice, or otherwise practice law; 

(b) act as an immigration consultant or an expert on immigration matters; 

(c) represent a person in a judicial or administrative proceeding relating to immigration to the United States or United States citizenship or related matters; or 

(d) receive compensation for performing any of the activities listed in this subsection (3). 
 

(4)  

(a) A notary public who is not an attorney licensed to practice law in this state shall provide in advertising or other representations regarding an offering of notarial services, whether oral or written, used in broadcast media, print media, or on the internet a statement as provided in subsection (4)(b) or an alternate statement authorized or required by the secretary of state. The statement must be prominently displayed and in each language used in the advertisement or representation. If the form of advertisement or representation is not broadcast media, print media, or the internet and does not permit inclusion of the statement required by this subsection because of its size, the statement must be displayed prominently or provided at the place of performance of the notarial act before the notarial act is performed. 
 

(b) To meet the requirements of subsection (4)(a), a notary public who is not an attorney licensed to practice law in this state shall use either an alternate statement authorized or required by the secretary of state or the following statement: 

"I am not an attorney licensed to practice law in this state. I am not allowed to draft legal records, give advice on legal matters, including immigration, or charge a fee for those activities." 
 

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 file a grievance, you must contact the Office of Disciplinary Counsel for the State of Montan and submit this form

  

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies 

Notary Public Information: 

Certification and Notary Services 
P.O. Box 202801 
Helena, MT 59620-2801 
Tel: (406) 444-5379 
Fax: (406) 444-4196                                           
Email: sosnotary@mt.gov 

Attorney General’s Office: 

Office of Consumer Protection 
 P.O. Box 200151 
Helena, MT 59620-0151 
Toll-Free: (800) 481-6896  
Tel: (406) 444-4500 
Fax: (406) 442-2174
E-mail: contactocp@mt.gov 

Office of Disciplinary Counsel 

Office of Disciplinary Counsel 
P.O. Box 1099 
Helena, MT 59624-1099. 
Becoming a Notary Public 
Tel: (406) 442-1648 
Fax: (406) 442-2689 

 

Becoming a Notary Public 

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

  • Be at least 18 years old; 
  • Be a citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States; 
  • Be a resident of or have a place of employment or practice in Montana; 
  • Be able to read and write English; and 
  • Not have been disqualified to receive a commission as provided in 1-5-621, MCA
  • 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. For more information and the Notary Public Handbook of Montana, follow this link. 

 

 

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.

You can file a complaint online or by mail. You can download the complaint form in English or Spanish. One may complete the form online or mail it to:

Consumer Complaint Division
Attorney General’s 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 in English, or these instructions in Spanish.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Nebraska Secretary of State Notary Division:

Physical Address
1201 N Street, Suite 120
Lincoln, NE 68508
Tel: (402) 471-2558
Fax: (402) 471-4429
Email: sos.notary@nebraska.gov
Mailing Address
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:
Nebraska Revised Statute 64-101. Appointmen;  qualifications; term.,

  1. The Secretary of State may appoint and commission such number of persons to the office of notary public as he or she deems necessary.
     
  2. There shall be one class of such appointments which shall be valid in the entire state and referred to as general notaries public.
     
  3. The term effective date, as used with reference to a commission of a notary public, shall mean the date of the commission unless the commission states when it goes into effect, in which event that date shall be the effective date.
     
  4. A general commission may refer to the office as notary public and shall contain a provision showing that the person therein named is authorized to act as a notary public anywhere within the State of Nebraska or, in lieu thereof, may contain the word general or refer to the office as general notary public.
     
  5. No person shall be appointed a notary public unless he or she has taken and passed a written examination on the duties and obligations of a notary public as provided in section 64-101.01.
     
  6. No appointment shall be made if such applicant has been convicted of (a) a felony or (b) a crime involving fraud or dishonesty within the previous five years.
     
  7. No appointment shall be made until such applicant has attained the age of nineteen years nor unless such applicant certifies to the Secretary of State under oath that he or she has carefully read and understands the laws relating to the duties of notaries public and will, if commissioned, faithfully discharge the duties pertaining to the office and keep records according to law.
     
  8. No person shall be appointed a notary public unless he or she resides in the State of Nebraska, except that the Secretary of State may appoint and commission a person as a notary public who resides in a state that borders the State of Nebraska if such person is employed in or has a regular place of work or business in this state and the Secretary of State has obtained evidence of an address of the physical location of such employment or place of work or business prior to such appointment and commission.
     
  9. Each person appointed a notary public shall hold office for a term of four years from the effective date of his or her commission unless sooner removed. Submit application materials to:
Notary Division
P.O. Box 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.

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.

  1. 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:

Las Vegas
State Bar of Nevada Office of Bar Counsel
3100 W. Charleston Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89102
Tel: (702) 382-2200
Fax: (702) 385-2878
Reno
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
Email: complaint@nvbar.org

Secretary of State:

Nevada State Capitol Building
101 North Carson Street, Suite 3
Carson City, NV 89701
Tel: 775-684-5708
Fax: 775-684-5725
Email: sosmail@sos.nv.gov                    

Office of the Attorney General:

Carson City Office:
Office of the Attorney General
100 North Carson Street
Carson City, NV 89701
Telephone: 775-684-1100
Fax: 775-684-1108
Reno Office:
Office of the Attorney General
5420 Kietzke Lane, Suite 202
Reno, NV 89511
Telephone: 775-687-2100
Fax: 775-688-1822
Las Vegas Office:
Office of the Attorney General
Grant Sawyer Building
555 E. Washington Avenue, Suite 3900 
Las Vegas, NV 89101
Telephone: 702-486-3420
Fax: 702-486-3768

 Consumer Protection Hotline: (702) 486-3132,
Toll-free:  (888) 434-9989.

 

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 a U.S. citizen or a lawfully admitted permanent resident;
  • Be at least 18 years of age; 
  • Be a resident of the state; 
  • Possess your civil rights (a felon cannot be a notary); and 
  • Have never had your notary commission revoked in another state.
  • You must attend a 3-hour online notary training class through the Secretary of State’s Notary Division and pass an exam.
  • You must also enter into a bond to the State of Nevada in the sum of $10,000. The bond is filed with the county clerk of the county in which you reside.
  • You are then given your oath of public office and the clerk gives you a filing notice.
  • You must submit a notary application, filing notice, certificate of online course completion and an application fee of $35 to the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State will then issue a Certificate of Appointment.

The application process for becoming a notary public in Nevada can be accessed here. You may access the Notary Public webpage on the Nevada Secretary of State site.

 

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. If you want to file a complaint online, you need to register with the State for filing forms online. (NOTE: you will need to activate your account by clicking on a link that will be send to your email address). Once you have completed your registration you can file your complain online here. If not you may download a complaint form 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

Office of the Attorney General

Office of the Attorney General
Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau
33 Capitol Street
Concord, NH 03301
Tel: (603) 271-3641
Fax: (603) 271-2110
Toll Free: (888) 468-4454
Email: doj-cpb@doj.nh.gov

New Hampshire Notary Public Information:

State House
107 North Main Street
State House, Room 204
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 for appointment.  
  • The applicant must complete a Criminal Record Release Authorization Form.  
  • The fee is $75 for a 5-year commission.
     

Procedures for Applying

  • Call (603) 271-3242 OR mail your request in writing to the Secretary of State’s Office, 107 North Main Street, State House Room 204, Concord, N.H. 03301 OR email your request to administration@sos.nh.gov OR download the new application.  The Criminal Record Release Authorization Form is part of the application and MUST be completed and submitted with the application. (For processing purposes, please print the application and criminal records form on two (2) pages.  Do not print double-sided.)   DO NOT use this form as a renewal.  See below for renewal information.   
  • Complete the application and the Criminal Record Release Authorization Form and return them both to the Secretary of State’s Office with the $75 fee.  
  • Send the ORIGINAL forms.  If you send a copy of either form, it will be returned.  
  • Your request will be treated as follows:   
  • The Criminal Record Release Authorization Form will be submitted to the Department of Safety.   
  • Your application will be submitted to the Governor and Executive Council for nomination.   
  • Your application will be submitted to the Governor and Executive Council for appointment.   
  • This process will take 8-10 weeks

For more information, you may use the Notary Public webpage found on the New Hampshire Secretary of State site.

 

NEW JERSEY

 

UPL Statute Summary

NJ Rev Stat §2C:21-22. Unauthorized practice of law, penalties

1. a. A person is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree if the person knowingly engages in the unauthorized practice of law.

b. 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, by any means, a false impression that the person is licensed to engage in the practice of law. As used in this paragraph, "by any means" includes but is not limited to using or advertising the title of lawyer or attorney-at-law, or equivalent terms, in the English language or any other language, which mean or imply that the person is licensed as an attorney-at-law in the State of New Jersey or in any other jurisdiction of the United States; or
  2. Derives a benefit; or
  3. In fact causes injury to another.

c. For the purposes of this section, the phrase "in fact" indicates strict liability.
 

NJ Rev Stat §2C:21-22a. Civil actions resulting from the unauthorized practice of law.

2. a. 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.

b. 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) $1,000, or
  2. (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.

c. 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.

d. 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:

Physical Address
124 Halsey Street
Newark, New Jersey 08102
Tel: (973) 504-6200
Toll Free (800) 242-5846
Fax: (973) 273-8035

Mailing Address
New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs
P.O. Box 45025
Newark, New Jersey 07101

New Jersey Notary Public Information:

NJ Division of Revenue
Business Support Services/Notary 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 New Jersey Notary Public Manual can be accessed here. The application can be accessed here. To access the Department of Treasury webpage on Notary Public, use this link.

 

New Mexico 

  

UPL Statute Summary 

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

A. 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. 

B. A non-attorney notary public shall not assist another person in drafting, completing, selecting or understanding a document or transaction requiring a notarial act. 

C. 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. 

D. 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. 

E. A notary public shall not use the term "notario publico" or any equivalent non-English term in any business card, advertisement, notice or sign. 

 Immigration and Nationality Law Practice Act, N. M. S. A. 1978, § 36-3-3 

A. “Immigration Consultant” means any person who renders services, including the completion of forms and applications, to a client where the services are related to the client's desire to determine his legal status in an immigration or naturalization matter and who is beyond the scope of federal regulations regulating appearances and practice under the Immigration and Nationality Act of 19521 as amended. 

B. “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; 

C. “Original Document” means any document of the United States government or any department or agency thereof, any foreign government, any state government or political subdivision thereof or any other document, including signed affidavits, that would demonstrate physical presence by a person in the United States;  and 

D. “Unauthorized Practice of Law” occurs where any person gives legal advice of any kind or acts on behalf of a client in any legal matter without authorization under the Immigration and Nationality Law Practice Act. 

 

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 ink or a typewriter. 

The New Mexico Office of Attorney General now accepts complaints online. With New Mexico Office of the Attorney General’s Electronic Complaint Submission (ECS) application, you can submit your complaint to their office without having to fill out paper forms. 

  

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) 490-4060 
Toll Free: 1-844-255-9210 

Notary Information: 

Office of the New Mexico Secretary of State 
325 Don Gaspar 
Suite 300 
Santa Fe, NM 87501 
Tel: (505) 827-3614 
Toll Free: 1.800.477.3632 

  

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. 

For more information, you may access the Secretary of State’s website and user their Notary Public Division page.  

 

NEW YORK

 

UPL Statute Summary

New York has a section of statute dedicated to “Immigrant Assistance Services” (General Business §460-a – 460-k) 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. They 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
 

§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 ten thousand dollars for each violation.

 

§460-i. Violations.

Any violation of any provision of this article shall be a class A misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof, shall be punishable  by  a  fine  of  not  more than one thousand dollars, or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or by both  such  fine and imprisonment;  provided however, a second or subsequent offense shall be punishable by a fine of not more  than  three  thousand  dollars or by imprisonment  for  not  more  than  one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment. In addition, the court may order as part of the sentence imposed restitution or reparation to the victim of the crime pursuant to section 60.27 of the penal law. The attorney general shall have the power to prosecute any violation of this article.

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. Immigrant assistance services fraud in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor.
 

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. Immigrant assistance services fraud in the first degree is a class E felony.

 

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 Civil Rights Bureau (which can only translate for Spanish) and filling out their complaint form. 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 22065
Albany, NY 12201-2065
Customer Service: (518) 474-4429

Attorney General’s Office:

Civil Rights Bureau
New York State Attorney General's Office
28 Liberty Street
New York, NY 10005
Tel: (212)-416-8250
Fax: (212) 416-6030
OAG Hotline: (800) 771-7755
Immigration Fraud  Hotline: (866) 390-2992
Email: civil.rights@ag.ny.gov

 

Becoming a Notary Public

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

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Be a person of good moral character.
  • Reside within the state or maintain a business office in New York.
  • Have the equivalent of a “common school education.”
  • Be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident.
  • Complete the application process.
  • Not be convicted of a felony or of certain misdemqeanors, unless you have an executive pardon or a parole board certificate of good conduct.
  • 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

For more information, here is the Notary Public page on the Department of State site, You may access their Frequently Asked Questions page here.
 

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.) 

Notary Public Act, N.C.G.S.A. § 10B-20, NC ST § 10B-20 - Powers and limitations. 

(a) A notary may perform any of the following notarial acts: 

  1. Acknowledgments. 
  2. Oaths and affirmations. 
  3. Repealed by Session Laws 2006-59, s. 6, effective October 1, 2006, and except as otherwise set forth in the act, applicable to notarial acts performed on or after October 1, 2006. 
  4. Verifications or proofs. 

(d) A notary may certify the affixation of a signature by mark on a record presented for notarization if: 

  1. The mark is affixed in the presence of the notary; 
  2. The notary writes below the mark: "Mark affixed by (name of signer by mark) in presence of undersigned notary"; and 
  3. The notary notarizes the signature by performing an acknowledgment, oath or affirmation, jurat, or verification or proof. 

(i) A notary public who is not an attorney licensed to practice law in this State who advertises the person's services as a notary public in a language other than English, by radio, television, signs, pamphlets, newspapers, other written communication, or in any other manner, shall post or otherwise include with the advertisement the notice set forth in this subsection in English and in the language used for the advertisement. The notice shall be of conspicuous size, if in writing, and shall state: "I AM NOT AN ATTORNEY LICENSED TO PRACTICE LAW IN THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA, AND I MAY NOT GIVE LEGAL ADVICE OR ACCEPT FEES FOR LEGAL ADVICE." If the advertisement is by radio or television, the statement may be modified but must include substantially the same message. 
 

(j) A notary public who is not an attorney licensed to practice law in this State is prohibited from representing or advertising that the notary public is an "immigration consultant" 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 Title 8, Part 292, section 2(a-e) of the Code of Federal Regulations (8 C.F.R. § 292.2(a-e)). 
 

(k) A notary public who is not an attorney licensed to practice law in this State is prohibited from rendering any service that constitutes the unauthorized practice of law.A nonattorney notary shall not assist another person in drafting, completing, selecting, or understanding a record or transaction requiring a notarial act. 
 

(l) A notary public required to comply with the provisions of subsection (i) of this section shall prominently post at the notary public's place of business a schedule of fees established by law, which a notary public may charge. The fee schedule shall be written in English and in the non-English language in which the notary services were solicited and shall contain the notice required in subsection (i) of this section, unless the notice is otherwise prominently posted at the notary public's place of business. 
 

(n) A notary shall not claim to have powers, qualifications, rights, or privileges that the office of notary does not provide, including the power to counsel on immigration matters. 

   

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL 

The Authorized Practice Committee of the North Carolina State Bar handles complaints regarding unauthorized practice of law. To file a complaint, follow these directions. For more information on Unauthorized Practice Law follow this link. Follow this link for on information on reporting and preventing the unauthorized practice of Immigration law.  

The North Carolina State Bar  
Authorized Practice Committee  
PO Box 25908 Raleigh  
North Carolina 27611 
Tel: (919) 828-4620 

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 they 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 

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. (1931, c. 157, s. 4; 1973, c. 47, s. 2.) 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 here.  

You can contact the notary enforcement division at: 

The Notary Public Section 
Post Office Box 29626 
Raleigh, North Carolina 27626-0626  
Tel: 919-814-5400 
Email :notary@sosnc.com 

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. Follow this link for resources about notario fraud.  

  

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 or legally emancipated by the court 
  • Reside or have a regular place of work or business 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 as a reference the most recent notary manual 
  • Submit an application to the Secretary of State 

Disqualifications: 

  • Convicted of a felony in North Carolina or another state 
  • Convicted of corruption or malpractice or 
  • Removed from any office by impeachment 
  • A list of additional disqualification can be found at: www.sosnc.gov 

For more information about the Notary Public process, use this link provided by the Secretary of State.  

 

NORTH DAKOTA

 

UPL Statute Summary 

North Dakota Stat. §27.11.01Practicing law and serving on courts of record without certificate of admission and without payment of annual license fee prohibited - Penalty.

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.  
 

Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts, N.D. Cent. Code Ann § 44-06.1-23 Prohibited Acts 

1. A commission as a notary public does not authorize an individual to: 

a.. Assist in drafting legal records, give legal advice, or otherwise practice law; 
b. Act as an immigration consultant or an expert on immigration matters; 
c. Represent an individual in a judicial or administrative proceeding relating to immigration to the United States, United States citizenship, or related matters; or 
d. Receive compensation for performing any of the activities listed in this subsection. 

2. A notary public may not engage in false or deceptive advertising. 

3. A notary public, other than an attorney licensed to practice law in this state, may not use the term "notario" or "notario publico". 

4. A notary public, other than an attorney licensed to practice law in this state, may not advertise or represent that the notary public may assist in drafting legal records, give legal advice, or otherwise practice law. If a notary public, who is not an attorney licensed to practice law in this state, in any manner advertises or represents that the notary public offers notarial services, whether orally or in a record, including broadcast media, print media, and the internet, the notary public shall include the following statement, or an alternate statement authorized or required by the secretary of state, in the advertisement or representation, prominently and in each language used in the advertisement or representation: "I am not an attorney licensed to practice law in this state. I am not allowed to draft legal records, give advice on legal matters, including immigration, or charge a fee for those activities." If the form of advertisement or representation is not broadcast media, print media, or the internet, and does not permit the inclusion of the statement required by this subsection because of size, it must be prominently displayed or provided at the place of performance of the notarial act before the notarial act is performed. 

 

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. You can also file an online complain here. 

  

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: 

Office of Disciplinary Counsel 
125 Slate Dr., Ste. 2, 
P.O. 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 
Tel: (701) 328-3404 

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, option 7 
Fax: (701) 328-0107 
Email: sosaccnot@nd.gov 

  

Becoming a Notary Public 

To become a Notary Public, one must be:.  

  • Be at least 18 years old  
  • A citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States 
  • Reside or be employed in North Dakota or a bordering county from a reciprocating state, 
  •  Able to read and write English and  
  • Pay a $36 fee along with the application. 

The method to become a notary can be found here

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 Codes §4705.07. Unauthorized practice.

(A) 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.

(B)

  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.

(C) 

  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.
       
  3. 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. You can also access this information in Spanish 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, Arabic, 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
Toll Free: (800) 282-0515

Ohio Notary Commission:

Office Location for Walk-ins
Ohio Secretary of State
180 E. Broad St., Suite 103
Columbus, OH 43215
Tel: (614) 644-4559
Fax: (614) 644-8820
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
Tel: (614) 457-8585
Email: osba@ohiobar.org

The Office of Disciplinary Counsel

Office of Disciplinary Counsel
Supreme Court of Ohio
250 Civic Center Drive, Ste. 325
Columbus, Ohio 43215-7411

 

Becoming a Notary Public

In Ohio, all new notary commissions required to complete the requirements set by your specific country to obtain a signature from a judge to accompany your application. You can find the link to the excel sheet, which contains your county’s phone number under the first question “How do I find information on becoming a notary?”.

The application is located here. Once you complete the application, it needs to be mailed to the Notary Public Office with a check for $15 to obtain your commission.

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

 

OKLAHOMA

 

UPL Statute Summary

49 OK Stat. §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 OK Stat §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 the Notary Public 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

Office of Attorney General .:

Office of Attorney General
Consumer Protection Unity
313 NE 21st Street
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
Tel: (405) 521-2029
Email: consumerprotection@oag.ok.gov

Notary Administration:

Notary Public Services
Secretary of State
421 N.W. 13th Street, Suite 210
Oklahoma City, OK 73103
Tel: (405) 521-2516
Form Requests: (405) 521-3912
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:

  • 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.
  • 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 here
 

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.

 

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 ext. 334

Attorney General:

Oregon Department of Justice
1162 Court St. NE
Salem, OR 97301
Email: help@oregonconsumer.gov 

Telephone numbers:

Salem: (503) 378-4320 [Justice Building] or (503) 947-4540 [Robertson Building]
Portland: (503) 673-1880 
Bend: (541) 693-2844
Medford: (541) 414-1030

 

Becoming a Notary Public

Applicants must:

  • 18 years of age or older.
  • Resident of Oregon or have a place of employment or practice in this state.
  • Able to read and write English.
  • Never had a notary public commission revoked during the 10-year period preceding the application date.
  • Completed a notary training course within the last 6 months.
    • Note: Not required of current Oregon notaries with an active commission at the time the new application is received in our office.
  • Never convicted of a felony or crime involving fraud, dishonesty or deceit during the 10-year period preceding the application date.
  • Passed the Secretary of State’s Notary Public examination​.
  • Not have been convicted of:
    • Acting as or otherwise impersonating a notary public as described in ORS 194.990;
    • Obstructing governmental or judicial administration under ORS 162.235 (1)(b); or
    • Engaging in the unlawful practice of law as described in ORS 9.160.
  • Not have been found by a court to have:

Go to the Online Notary Application​.
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. 

a. 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. 

b. 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. 

c. 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. 
 

 Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts, 57 Pa.C.S.A. § 325 Prohibited Acts 

(a)  No authority.--A commission as a notary public does not authorize the notary public to: 

  1. Assist persons in drafting legal records, give legal advice or otherwise practice law; 
  2. Act as an immigration consultant or an expert on immigration matters; 
  3. Rrepresent a person in a judicial or administrative proceeding relating to immigration to the United States, United States citizenship or related matters; or 
  4. Receive compensation for performing any of the activities listed in this subsection. 

(b)  False advertising.--A notary public may not engage in false or deceptive advertising. 

(c)  Designation.-- 

  1. Except as set forth in paragraph (2), a notary public may not use the term "notario" or "notario publico." 
  2. Paragraph (1) does not apply to an attorney at law. 

(d)  Representations.-- 

  1. Except as set forth in paragraph (2) the following apply: 

(i)  A notary public may not advertise or represent that the notary public may: 

(A)  assist persons in drafting legal records; 
(B)  give legal advice; or 
(C)  otherwise practice law. 

(ii)  If a notary public advertises or represents that the notary public offers notarial services, whether orally or in a record, including broadcast media, print media and the Internet, the notary public shall include the following statement, or an alternate statement authorized or required by the department, in the advertisement or representation, prominently and in each language used in the advertisement or representation: 

"I am not an attorney licensed to practice law in this Commonwealth. I am not allowed to draft legal records, give advice on legal matters, including immigration, or charge a fee for those activities". 

 

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 or use the Frequently Asked Questions page, which includes public resources. 

  

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies 

Notary Public Information: 

Division of Commissions, Legislation and Notaries 
210 North Office Building 
Harrisburg, PA 17120 
Tel: (717) 787-5280 
Email: ST-NOTARIES@pa.gov 

Attorney General’s Office: 

Office of Attorney General 
Bureau of Consumer Protection 
15th Floor, Strawberry Square 
Harrisburg, PA 17120 
Hotline: (800) 441-2555 
Tel: (717) 787-3391 
Fax: (717) 787-8242 

  

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 citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States 
  • Be a resident of or have a place of employment or practice in this Commonwealth 
  • Be able to read and write English 
  • Not be disqualified to receive a commission because of character, criminal convictions or prior sanctions 
  • Education – All applicants for both initial appointment and reappointment as a notary public must complete at least three hours of approved notary education within the six months immediately preceding the application for appointment or reappointment 
  • Examination – All applicants for a commission as a notary public who do not hold a current and unexpired commission in this Commonwealth must pass an examination administered by the Department’s examination vendor Pearson VUE 

 

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 $42 nonrefundable filing fee 
  • Has verified that he or she has the honesty, integrity, competence and reliability to act as a notary public 
  • Has not made a fraudulent, dishonest or deceitful misstatement or omission in the application 
  • Has provided proof of completion of a three-hour preapproved notary public course within six months preceding application 
  • Has passed the examination (for applicants who have never held notary commissions and all applicants who previously held notary commissions but whose commissions have lapsed or expired at the time their application for reappointment is received by the Department) 
  • Has not been convicted of or accepted Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition for a felony or an offense involving fraud, dishonesty or deceit 
  • Has not had a finding against or admission of liability in a legal proceeding or disciplinary action based on the fraud, dishonesty or deceit of the applicant or notary public 
  • Has not failed to discharge a duty required of a notary public, whether by RULONA, by regulation of the department or by Federal or State law 
  • Has not used false or misleading advertising or representation representing that the notary public has a duty, right or privilege that the notary public does not have 
  • Has not violated a regulation of the Department 
  • Has not been denied a commission, refused to renew, revoked, suspended or otherwise had a notary commission disciplined by the Commonwealth or any other state 
  • Has failed to maintain a bond 
  • The Secretary of the Commonwealth may, for good cause, reject any application subject to the right of notice, hearing and adjudication and the right of appeal. Lack of proof of completion of a three-hour preapproved notary public course will result in outright rejection of an application without the right of appeal. 


The following persons are not eligible to hold the office of notary public: 

  • A member of the U.S. Congress, and a person holding an office or appointment of profit or trust under the legislative, executive or judiciary departments of the federal government for which he or she receives a salary, fees or perquisites 
  • Any member of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania 

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
Email: notaries@sos.ri.gov

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
Email: consumers@riag.ri.gov 

 

Becoming a Notary Public

To become a notary in Rhode Island, you must:

  • Be 18 years of age
  • Speak, read and write the English language 
  • Have sufficient knowledge of the powers and duties of a Notary Public
  • Be a US Citizen or a Permanent Legal Resident of the US
  • Be a Rhode Island resident or a non-resident who conducts business on a regular basis in Rhode Island
  • Complete and print the Notary Application Form. You must appear before a Rhode Island Notary Public to take the Oath of Office and complete the certificate.  Notaries are available at our office to perform this service.

The Secretary of State has an online tool to find current notary commissions, which can be accessed here. You may use this webpage for more information about the Notary Public Process.

 

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. 
 

 S.C. Code Ann. §40-83-30 Registration of Immigration Assistance Service Act – Immigration Services permitted; persons exempt from chapter; required disclosures; penalties; promulgation of regulations 

(A) A person who provides or offers to provide immigration assistance service shall perform only the following services: 

  1. Completing a government agency form, requested by the customer and appropriate to the customer's needs only if the completion of that form does not involve a legal judgment for that particular matter; 
  2. Transcribing responses to a government agency form that is related to an immigration matter but not advising a customer as to his or her answers on those forms; 
  3. Translating information on forms to a customer and translating the customer's answers to questions posed on those forms; 
  4. Securing for the customer supporting documents currently in existence, such as birth and marriage certificates, which 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 performing the service is a notary public commissioned in the State of South Carolina and is lawfully present in the United States; 
  7. Making referrals, without a 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 (including X-rays and AIDS tests) and the obtaining of reports of such test results; 
  10.  Conducting English language and civics courses; and 
  11.  Performing other services that the director determines by rule may be appropriately performed by such persons in light of the purposes of this chapter. 

(E) A person who provides or offers immigration assistance service and is not exempted under this chapter shall post signs at his or her place of business setting forth information in English and in every other language in which the person provides or offers to provide immigration assistance service. Each language shall be on a separate sign. Signs shall be posted in a location where the signs will be visible to customers. Each sign shall be at least twelve inches by seventeen inches and shall contain the following statement: 
 
"I AM NOT AN ATTORNEY LICENSED TO PRACTICE LAW AND MAY NOT GIVE LEGAL ADVICE OR ACCEPT FEES FOR LEGAL ADVICE." 
 
(F) Each person engaged in immigration assistance service who is not an attorney who advertises immigration assistance service in a language other than English, whether by radio, television, signs, pamphlets, newspapers, or other written communication, with the exception of a single desk plaque, must include in the document, advertisement, stationery, letterhead, business card, or other comparable written material the following notice in English and the language in which the written communication appears. This notice shall be of a conspicuous font size, if in writing, and shall state: 
 
"I AM NOT AN ATTORNEY LICENSED TO PRACTICE LAW AND MAY NOT GIVE LEGAL ADVICE OR ACCEPT FEES FOR LEGAL ADVICE." 
 
If an advertisement is by radio or television, the statement may be modified but must include substantially the same information. 
 
(G) A person who provides or offers immigration assistance service and who is not exempted pursuant to the provisions of this chapter may not literally translate from English into another language any document, advertisement, stationery, letterhead, business card, or other comparable written material terms or titles including, but not limited to, notary public, notary, licensed attorney, lawyer, or another term that implies the person is an attorney. 
 
(H) A person engaged in providing immigration services who is not exempted under this chapter may not: 
 

  1. Accept payment in exchange for providing legal advice or any other assistance that requires legal analysis, legal judgment, or interpretation of the law; 
  2. Refuse to return documents supplied by, prepared on behalf of, or paid for by the customer upon the request of the customer. These documents must be returned upon request even if there is a fee dispute between the immigration assistant and the customer; 
  3.  Represent or advertise, in connection with providing assistance in immigration matters, other titles or credentials, including, but not limited to, "notary public" or "immigration consultant", that could cause a customer to believe that the person possesses special professional skills or is authorized to provide advice on an immigration matter, provided that a certified notary public may use the term "notary public" if the use is accompanied by the statement that the person is not an attorney. The term "notary public" may not be translated into another language; 
  4. Provide legal advice, recommend a specific course of legal action, or provide any other assistance that requires legal analysis, legal judgment, or interpretation of the law; or 
  5. Make any misrepresentation or false statement, directly or indirectly, to influence, persuade, or induce patronage. 

(I) Violations of this chapter may result in a civil penalty of up to one thousand dollars per violation and the revocation of the business license of the immigration assistance service. A fine charged pursuant to this chapter shall not preempt or preclude additional appropriate civil or criminal penalties to include disgorgement and restitution. 
 
(J) Any person who knowingly and wilfully makes a false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation in any document prepared or executed as part of the provision of immigration assistance services in an immigration matter pursuant to this chapter, or anyone who aids or abets a person in knowingly and wilfully making a false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation in any document prepared or executed as part of the provision of immigration assistance services in an immigration matter pursuant to this chapter, or who solicits or conspires to make a false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation in any document prepared or executed as part of the provision of immigration assistance services in an immigration matter pursuant to this chapter shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be fined in the discretion of the court or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both. In addition, a person convicted of this subsection must disgorge any benefit received or make restitution, or both, to the agency or political subdivision that administered the benefit or entitlement program. It is a separate violation of this subsection each time a person knowingly and wilfully makes, aids, or abets in the making of, or solicits or conspires to make a false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation in any document prepared or executed pursuant to this subsection. A criminal charge pursuant to this chapter shall not preempt or preclude additional appropriate civil or criminal charges or penalties. A person who suffers any ascertainable loss of money or property, real or personal, as a result of a conviction or plea to a violation of this subsection may bring an action individually, or in a representative capacity, to recover actual damages from any person convicted of the violation of this subsection. If the court finds that a violation has been established, the court shall award three times the actual damages sustained and may provide such other relief as it considers necessary or proper. Upon the finding by the court of a violation, the court shall award to the person bringing such action under this section reasonable attorney's fees and costs. 

 

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 raise awareness among stakeholders, and to monitor enforcement action of law enforcement agencies. The bar asks victims to file their complaints directly with the Attorney General 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 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.  

For more information about Unauthorized Practice of Law, you may access this link. 

  

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel 

To report ineffective assistance of counsel in South Carolina, you may contact the South Carolina Judicial Department here. All complaints must be submitted, in writing in person. They do not accept a complaint via the phone or e-mail 

Office of Disciplinary Counsel 
1220 Senate Street 
Suite 309 
Columbia, South Carolina 29201 
Tel: (803) 734-2038 
Fax: (803) 734-1964 

  

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies 

South Carolina Bar: 

South Carolina Bar  
Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee  
P.O. Box 608  
Columbia, SC 29202  
Tel: (803) 799-6653  
Fax: (803) 799-5290  

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 
Information: 1-803-734-3970 
Victim Assistance Program: 1-800-213-5652 

Notary Public 

South Carolina Secretary of State’s Office  
1205 Pendleton Street, Suite 525  
Columbia, SC 29201 
Tel: (803) 734-2512 
Email: notary@sos.sc.gov  

 

Solicitors’ offices: 

Solicitor - 1st Judicial Circuit- Calhoun, Dorchester, Orangeburg counties 

Solicitor - 2nd Judicial Circuit- Aiken, Bamberg, and Barnwell Counties  

Solicitor – 3rd Judicial Circuit - Lee, Sumter, Clarendon, and Williamsburg Counties 

Solicitor - 4th Judicial Circuit - Chesterfield, Marlboro, Darlington, Dillon counties. 

Solicitor - 5th Judicial Circuit - Richland and Kershaw counties 

Solicitor - 6th Judicial Circuit - Chester, Lancaster, and Fairfield counties 

Solicitor - 7th Judicial Circuit - Cherokee and Spartanburg counties 

Solicitor - 8th Judicial Circuit - Abbeville, Greenwood, Laurens, and Newberry counties 

Solicitor - 9th Judicial Circuit - Berkeley and Charleston counties 

Solicitor - 10th Judicial Circuit - Anderson and Oconee counties 

Solicitor - 11th Judicial Circuit - Edgefield, Lexington McCormick, Saluda counties 

Solicitor - 13th Judicial Circuit - Greenville and Pickens counties 

Solicitor - 12th Judicial Circuit - Florence and Marion counties 

Solicitor - 14th Judicial Circuit - Allendale, Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties 

Solicitor – 15th Judicial District - Horry and Georgetown Counties 

Solicitor - 16th Judicial Circuit - Union and York counties 

One can also contact Local Sheriffs and Police department 

 

Becoming a Notary Public 

  • Be registered to vote; they need to: 
    • 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. 
  • Be able to read and write in English; and 
  • Submit an application with no significant misstatement or omission of fact 
  • Carefully type or print legibly all information requested on the top portion of your application and sign in the presence of a notary public. Click on the form name to access the Notary Public Application/Renewal Form
  • If you have a current notary commission and you have changed your name or address since issuance of the commission, you must inform the Secretary of State's Office by filing a Change in Status form within 45 days of the change. A renewal application that indicates a notary has changed his or her name or address will be rejected if a Change in Status form has not been filed. 
  • If you were previously commissioned as a notary but that commission has expired, your application will be processed as a new application and not as a renewal.  
  • Attach a $25.00 check or money order payable to “Secretary of State” to your application. 
  • Mail the application and check or money order to your county delegation for the required signatures. Your delegation office will forward your application and check or money order to the Secretary of State’s Office.  Allow your county delegation office two to six weeks processing time.  The delegation office must verify the notary applicant's name with the elections commission and obtain the necessary legislative signatures. 
  • 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  

After your application is processed, the Secretary of State’s Office will mail your commission to the mailing address provided on your application. 

For more information, you may refer to the Notary Public Handbook and other resources. You may use this page for the Notary Public Search tool 

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.

SD. Stat. §16-16-1. License from Supreme Court required to practice law

“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.

Source: SDC 1939 & Supp 1960, §§ 13.1255, 32.1101; SDCL, § 16-18-30, SL 1979, ch 150, § 14; SL 2001, ch 102, § 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
Tel: (605) 224-7554
Fax: (605) 224-0282

Attorney General’s Consumer Complaint Dept.:

Office of Attorney General
Division of Consumer Protection
1302 E Hwy 14, Suite 3
Pierre, SD 57501-8053
Tel: (605) 773-4400
Tel: 1-800-300-1986 (In-state)
Fax: (605) 773-7163
Email: consumerhelp@state.sd.us

Notary Administration:

Notary Administrator
State Capitol
500 East Capitol Avenue
Pierre, SD 57501
Tel: (605) 773-3537
Email: Notary@state.sd.us

 

Becoming a Notary Public

To be eligible to be a notary public, one must;

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • A U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
  • Not have been convicted of a felony
  • Reside or be employed in South Dakota or a bordering county from a reciprocating state, not be a felon
  • 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.

The method to become a notary can be found here. Please refer to the Notary Application Process Checklist, which will help to ensure a complete application and timely approval.

Search for licensed notaries here.

 

TENNESSEE

 

UPL Statute Summary

Tennessee Code Ann., 8-16-201. 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., 8-16-202. 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.
    • Find your County Clerk’s contact information here.
  • 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.
  • Obtain your Notary seal. You County Clerk may be able to assist you.

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 Attorney General’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 and you can use their website to find Grievances and Ethics Information.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Office of Attorney General:

Office of the Attorney General
Consumer Protection Division
PO Box 12548
Austin, TX 78711-2548
Hotline: (800) 621-0508

Notary Public Information:

Notary Public
P.O. Box 13375
Austin, Texas 78711-3375
Tel: (512) 463-5705
Fax: (512) 463-0873

 

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.
  • Crimes involving moral turpitude includes the commission of a crime involving dishonest, fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, trustworthiness, or fitness as a notary public, which may include, but not be limited to:
    • Class A and B types misdemeanors which have not been set aside, or for which no pardon or certificate of restoration of citizenship rights have been granted, and
    • Felony convictions which have not been set aside, or for which no pardon or certificate of restoration of citizenship rights have been granted
  • 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 maybe 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
Or by fax: (801) 530-6001

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 Law & Justice Center
645 South 200 East
Salt Lake City, Utah 84111  
Tel: (801) 531-9077
Email: info@utahbar.org            

 

Becoming a Notary Public

A person qualified for a notarial commission shall

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Be a U.S. citizen or have permanent resident status under Section 245 of the Immigration and Nationality Act
  • Lawfully reside in the state 30 days immediately preceding the filing for notarial commission and maintain permanent residency thereafter.
  • Be able to read, write, and understand English
  • Pay ($95) for and pass the online exam
  • Submit an application, bond, and Oath of Office to the Lieutenant Governor’s office containing no significant misstatement or omission of facts

The Office of the Utah Lieutenant Governor has a website, which outlines the process and qualifications needed in order to become a Notary Public.

For any assistance or questions, regarding notary services please go in person to the office, call, or email.

Notary Office
Utah State Capitol
PO Box 142325
350 N State St. 220
Salt Lake City, UT 84114
Tel: (801) 538-1041
Email: notary@utah.gov

 

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 unauthorized practice, the Director shall refer the complaint to Office investigators and prosecutors.
  • The Attorney General or an attorney assigned by the Office of Professional Regulation may elect to bring an action seeking only a civil penalty of not more than $1,000.00 for practicing or permitting the practice of a regulated profession without authority before the board having regulatory authority over the profession or before an administrative law officer.
  • In addition to other provisions of law, unauthorized practice shall be punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000.00 or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both. 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 under this section and shall not act as a bar to civil or administrative proceedings involving the same conduct.

 

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. It 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.

A complaint must be in writing and should set out the facts that make you think that the attorney did something wrong. Complaints should focus on facts, not opinion or argument..

Complaints should be sent to:

Professional Responsibility Program
32 Cherry Street, Suite 213
Burlington, VT 05401
Email: jud.prpcomplaints@vermont.gov

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Office of Bar Counsel

Michael Kennedy, Esq.
Costello Courthouse
32 Cherry Street, Suite 213
Burlington, VT 05401
Phone: (802) 859-3000

Office of Disciplinary Counsel

Sarah Katz, Esq.
Costello Courthouse
32 Cherry Street, Suite 213
Burlington, VT 05401
Phone: (802) 859-3000

Professional Responsibility Board

Deb Laferriere, Program Administrator
Vermont Supreme Court
Professional Responsibility Program
109 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05609
Phone: (802) 828-3204

 

Becoming a Notary Public

To become a notary public, one must:

  • Be 18 years or older.
  • Be a Vermont resident or a resident of an adjoining state who maintains a place of business or is regularly employed in Vermont
  • Be a resident of the county where appointed or maintain a place of employment or business in that county.
  • 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.

Pursuant to 2018, No. 160, notaries public will be licensed by the Secretary of State’s Office of Professional Regulation (OPR), effective December 1, 2018. The updated act will take effect on July 1, 2019.

 

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

§47.1-26.  Civil liability of notary

A notary public shall be liable for all damages proximately caused by his official misconduct.

§47.1-27. Civil liability of employer of notary

The employer of a notary public 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. You can submit an online Complaint Form or send it to:

Office of the Attorney General of Virginia
Consumer Protection Section
202 North Ninth Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219
Fax: (804) 225-4378

For further assistance, call the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-552-9963 if calling from Virginia, or (804) 786-2042 if calling from the Richmond area or outside Virginia.

 

Reporting Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

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

To view a copy of How to File a Complaint Against a Lawyer as a brochure, use this link or contact the Virginia State Bar at (804) 775-0570. Callers outside the 804 Area code may dial toll free 1-866-548-0873.

All complaints must be in writing. There are three ways to file:

  • Download, print, and mail a complaint form
  • Submit via online form
  • Write a letter explaining the situation, which should contain:
    • Your full name and address. They will only accept complaints about individual lawyers, not law firms.
    • A brief but complete description of the facts explaining your situation, and
    • Your signature

Mail letters to:

Virginia State Bar Intake Office
1111 East Main, Suite 700
Richmond, VA 23219-0026

 

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
Email: notary@governor.virginia.gov

 

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.

RCW §19.154.010: Findings. The legislature finds and declares that the practice by nonlawyers and other unauthorized persons of providing legal advice and legal services to others in immigration matters substantially affects the public interest. The practice of nonlawyers and other unauthorized persons providing immigration-related legal advice and legal services for compensation may impact the ability of their customers to reside and work within the United States and to establish and maintain stable families and business relationships. The legislature further finds and declares that the previous scheme for regulating the behavior of nonlawyers and other unauthorized persons who provide immigration-related services is inadequate to address the level of unfair and deceptive practices that exists in the marketplace and often contributes to the unauthorized practice of law. It is the intent of the legislature, through chapter 244, Laws of 2011, to prohibit nonlawyers and other unauthorized persons from providing immigration-related services that constitute the practice of law.

Criminal Statute: RCW §2.48.180: Unlawful Practice of a Crime.

 

Enforcement Mechanisms/Complaint Processes for UPL

One can file a complaint on the Washington State Bar Association website found here with the Practice of Law Board.

You can mail the form to:

Practice of Law Board
1325 4th Avenue, Suite 600
Seattle, WA 98101-2539
Email: UPL@wsba.org

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

A complain can be submitted online (English or Spanish) or by mail. To send by mail, please printable download the form (English or Spanish) and address it to:

Consumer Protection
800 5th Ave. Suite 2000
Seattle, WA. 98104-3188

Call centers are open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

  • 1-800-551-4636 (in Washington only)
  • (206) 464-6684
  • 1-800-833-6388 (Washington State Relay Service for the hearing impaired)

The Attorney General has established this website 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)
1-206-464-6684 (out-of-state callers)
1-800-833-6388 (Washington State Relay Service for the hearing impaired)

Notary Public Agency:

Forms with payments:
Notary Public Program
Department of Licensing
PO Box 35001
Seattle, WA 98124-3401
Mail with no payments:
Notary Public Program
Department of Licensing
PO Box 9027
Olympia, WA 98507-9027
Overnight mailing (FedEx, UPS, USPS)
Notaries Public Program
Department of Licensing
1125 Washington Street
Olympia, WA 98501
Contact information:
Phone: (360) 664-1550
Fax: (360) 570-7053
Email: notaries@dol.wa.gov

 

Becoming a Notary Public

Notary Publics are governed by statute, RCW §42.45.200. To become a notary public, one must:

  • Be 18 years old;
  • Be able to read and write in English
  • Be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States
  • Live in Washington State, or have a place of employment or practice in Washington
  • Get a $10,000 surety bond from any insurance company qualified to write surety bonds in Washington. Also, make sure the surety bond:
    • Covers your 4-year notary public term.
    • Shows your name and it matches your name and signature on the application.
    • Is separate from Errors and Omissions Insurance. We only need proof of the surety bond.
  • Complete the Notary Public Application found here

To see a list of other requirements, please use this link. For a resource of information for new notaries, please use this link.

RCW §42.45 Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts

 

WASHINGTON D.C.

 

UPL Statute Summary

D.C. App. R. 49 – Unauthorized Practice of Law: “(a) General Rule.  Except as otherwise permitted by these rules, no person may 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 D.C. Bar.

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:

Headquarters
1100 4th Street, SW
Washington DC 20024
Tel: (202) 442-4400 (press 1 then press 6)
Email: dcra@dc.gov

Victims may also contact the Office of the Attorney General using their online complaint form, which can be accessed here or contact them at:

Mail
Office of the Attorney General
Office of Consumer Protection
441 4th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
Hotline: (202) 442 9828
Email: consumer.protection@dc.gov

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

The Committee on Unauthorized Practice of Law
430 E St., NW Rm. 123
Washington, DC 20001
Tel: (202)-879-1010
Email: CUPL@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 mail to:

Office of Disciplinary 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

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

  • Must be 18 years of age
  • Must be a resident of the District of Columbia, or may be residents of other jurisdictions whose sole place of business or employment is located in the District of Columbia. DC Code § 1-1201, DC.
  • Pay an application fee of $75
  • Applications may be picked up at 441 4th Street, NW, Suite 810 South or downloaded at here.
  • Must attend an orientation session
  • Application must be mailed or delivered in person to:
Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications
441 4th Street NW
Suite 819 South
Washington, DC 20001

For more details on becoming and the responsibilities of a notary public in the District of Columbia, please see the Notary Public Handbook.

There is also a notary search tool available here.

 

WEST VIRGINIA

 

UPL Statute Summary

W. VA. Code §39-4-23.  Prohibited Acts

(a) A commission as a notary public does not authorize an individual to:

(1) Assist persons in drafting legal records, give legal advice or otherwise practice law;

(2) Act as an immigration consultant or an expert on immigration matters;

(3) Represent a person in a judicial or administrative proceeding relating to immigration to the United States, United States citizenship or related matters; or

(4) Receive compensation for performing any of the activities listed in this subsection.

(b) A notary public may not engage in false or deceptive advertising.

(c) A notary public, other than an attorney licensed to practice law in this state, may not use the term "notario" or "notario publico".

(d) A notary public, other than an attorney licensed to practice law in this state, may not advertise or represent that the notary public may assist persons in drafting legal records, give legal advice, or otherwise practice law. If a notary public who is not an attorney licensed to practice law in this state in any manner advertises or represents that the notary public offers notarial services, whether orally or in a record, including broadcast media, print media and the internet, the notary public shall include the following statement, or an alternate statement authorized or required by the Secretary of State, in the advertisement or representation, prominently and in each language used in the advertisement or representation: "I am not an attorney licensed to practice law in this state. I am not allowed to draft legal records, give advice on legal matters, including immigration, or charge a fee for those activities". If the form of advertisement or representation is not broadcast media, print media or the internet and does not permit inclusion of the statement required by this subsection because of size, it must be displayed prominently or provided at the place of performance of the notarial act before the notarial act is performed.

(e) Except as otherwise allowed by law, a notary public may not withhold access to or possession of an original record provided by a person that seeks performance of a notarial act by the notary public.

 

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 Attorney General
Consumer Protection Division
PO Box 1789
Charleston, WV 25326-1789
Email: complaint@wvago.gov
Hotline: 1-800-368-8808

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 eighteen years of age;
  • Be a citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States;
  • Be a resident of or have a place of employment or practice in this state;
  • Be able to read and write English;
  • Have a high school diploma or its equivalent; and
  • Not be disqualified to receive a commission under W.Va. State Code §39-4-21
  • Pay the $52 application fee
  • Before issuance of a commission as a notary public, an applicant for the commission shall execute an oath of office and submit it to the Secretary of State.
  • Before issuance of a commission as a notary public, the applicant for a commission shall submit to the Secretary of State an assurance in the form of: (1) A surety bond or its functional equivalent in the amount of $1,000; or (2) certification that the applicant is covered under a: (A) Professional liability insurance policy; (B) an errors and omission insurance policy; (C) a commercial general liability insurance policy; or (D) their equivalent, in the amount of $1,000.
    • The assurance must be issued by a surety or other entity licensed or authorized to do business in this state. The assurance must cover acts performed during the term of the notary public's commission and must be in the form prescribed by the Secretary of State. If a notary public violates law with respect to notaries public in this state, the surety or issuing entity is liable under the assurance. The notary public shall give thirty days' notice to the Secretary of State before canceling any assurance or loss of insurance coverage. The surety or issuing entity shall notify the Secretary of State not later than thirty days after making a payment to a claimant under the assurance. A notary public may perform notarial acts in this state only during the period that a valid assurance is on file with the Secretary of State.

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 or Spanish 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 or mail copies to:

Department of Agriculture, Trade and 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 or use this page for additional resources about filing grievances.

 

Contact Information for Relevant Agencies

Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection:

Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection
Bureau of Consumer Protection
PO Box 8911
Madison, WI 53708-8911
Tel: (608) 224-5012
Hotline: (800) 422-7128

Notary Public Information:

Notary Section
WI Department of Financial Institutions
4822 Madison Yards Way, North Towers
PO Box 7847
Madison WI 53705
Tel: (608) 266-8915
Email: DFINotary@wisconsin.gov

 

Becoming a Notary Public

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

  • Resident of the United States
  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Must have at least the equivalent of an 8th grade education
  • Submit a four-year Notary Public Application
  • Secure a notary bond for a minimum of $500 coverage
  • Complete the oath
  • Pass the WDFI notary exam with a score of 90% or better
  • Has a felony free record and/or record that is free of misdemeanors that show a violation of the public trust
    • A person convicted of a felony may only be commissioned as a Notary Public if the applicant is pardoned of the conviction.
  • Print the notary exam certificate and submit all forms to the WDFI with the required $20 fee

You may initiate the applications and pay online or download the applications that are available from here.

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.

  1. 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:
  1. Represents that merchandise has a source, origin, sponsorship, approval, accessories or uses it does not have;
  2. 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:

Office of the Attorney General
Consumer Protection Unit
Kendrick Building
2320 Capitol Avenue
Cheyenne, WY 82002

Notary Public Information:

Notary Officer
Compliance Division
2020 Carey Avenue, Suite 700
Cheyenne, WY 82002-0020
Tel: (301) 777-7370
Fax: (307) 777-7640
Email: Compliance@wyo.gov

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 o2r 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.

 

 

Updated on 12/21/2018