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No. Paralegals cannot practice law. Paralegals cannot give legal advice. Your cousin’s sister’s best friend’s paralegal neighbor cannot represent you in personal injury claim. Only a licensed attorney can practice law. Only a licensed attorney can represent other people in personal injury cases.
Paralegals are knowledgeable and indispensable in a law office, and your cousin’s distant whatever may think he can probably handle your claim relatively well, but it is against the rules, and the law is all about the rules.
The practice of law is governed by the Utah Supreme Court Rule of Professional Practice 14-802. The “practice of law” is when someone represents the interests of someone else by informing, counseling, advising, assisting, advocating for, or drafting documents for another person by applying law to specific facts.
Only someone who has graduated from an accredited law school and taken the state bar exam, and been admitted to the Utah State Bar is allowed to “practice law” in Utah. Admission to the state bar involves a swearing in ceremony, a yearly fee, and continuing education classes.
Even when you are speaking with a licensed lawyer, you may not be receiving any legal advice. The author of this article is a licensed lawyer, and she is not giving you legal advice right now. Attorneys give legal advice when they apply the law to a specific set of facts.
Attorneys almost never offer legal advice until they have created an attorney-client relationship by writing and executing a representation agreement. A representation agreement is a letter that lists all the things all the things the attorney is going to do as well as all the things the client going to do. We both sign it. If you have not signed one these letters, it is not likely that an attorney has agreed to represent you.
According to the rules, the “practice of law” is not any of these things:
- Providing free legal forms to the public
- Providing general legal advice that does not apply to specific facts
- Providing clerical assistance in filling out forms and not charging a fee to do so
Your Cousin’s distant relation or friend can do any of the above-mentioned things, so can anyone you meet on the street or anyone you meet in a chat room. A real lawyer can do more for you.
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