Cal Bar Wants to Crush the Souls of Unlicensed Lawyers - California Case Law
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Cal Bar Wants to Crush the Souls of Unlicensed Lawyers

Souls? Just kidding. Lawyers don't have those.

Or do they? After all, unlicensed lawyers, a.k.a. random dudes who are engaging in the unauthorized practice of law, aren't exactly lawyers. Their conduct isn't what one might consider legal, but that's not the issue for the State Bar. Like most lawyers, they want power and money, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The faux-lawyers' money.

Already a Crime

Newsflash: unauthorized practice of law is already a misdemeanor offense, punishable by between 90 days and one year in jail, or a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

Assembly Bill 888 (Last Year)

Last year, the State Bar convinced the legislature to pass a bill that gave them the power to pursue civil fines against faux-lawyers. The bar argued that the power was necessary in order to discourage the unauthorized practice of law and to target those who prey on unsuspecting consumers, specifically immigrants.

Gov. Brown disagreed, and vetoed the bill.

Assembly Bill 852 (The Sequel)

This was a clever move. According to the Sacramento Bee, the Sacramento Democrat Roger Dickinson, the sponsor of last year's bill, took a bill that had stalled, deleted its language, and pasted in a new version of last year's bill, bypassing the committee process.

(The modification is available online. Apparently, the previous text, now in red, had something to do with environmentalism.) The Bee's Dan Walters asks whether this is simply a revenue booster in a time of mass unemployment.

The State Bar, in a letter to the Bee, stated that they hoped the new version of the bill would satisfy Gov. Brown's concerns and emphasized that any revenue brought in from the civil fines would be used solely for restitution for aggrieved clients, with none of it going to the bar, either directly or through attorneys' fees.

Power play, or necessary deterrent to unauthorized practice of law? Speak up on Facebook.

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