Law School Discussion

Law Students => Online Law Schools => Topic started by: legalpractitioner on January 16, 2014, 07:59:47 PM

Title: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: legalpractitioner on January 16, 2014, 07:59:47 PM
Given that a number of DL students won't pass the California Bar - there are actually a number of ways to use your JD and practice law without out a license.

1.  Social Security Advocate - they do the same job as an attorney and collect a similar fee; only difference is that SSA does not withhold their fee like it does for attorneys sometimes.

2.  Veterans Disability Advocate

3.  Tax Court (if you can qualify)

In England McKenzie Friends can collect fees:

http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/news/stories/case-studies-on-fee-charging-mckenzie-friends/?utm_source=emailhosts&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=PU+-+16%2F01%2F14

Anyone know of any other examples?
Title: Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: livinglegend on January 17, 2014, 07:41:11 AM
YOu can also represent yourself and defend yourself against bill collectors etc much more effectively with some legal training.

While in law school I was able to get out of tickets, b.s medical bills etc, probably saved 10k.
Title: Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: barprephero on May 15, 2014, 09:16:20 PM
This is a nonsense argument.

If you can do this without a license, you can do it without an unaccredited degree too
Title: Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: legalpractitioner on May 16, 2014, 08:40:43 PM
Representing yourself does not count.  McKenzie Friend is creating a problem in England:

http://www.legalfutures.co.uk/latest-news/probe-growth-professional-mckenzie-friends

There are also professional lay advocates in out of the way English jurisdictions where solicitors are scarce.

Given that many people cannot afford a lawyer in the US - even a lay advocate with some knowledge might be better than going pro per.

Title: Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: legalpractitioner on May 16, 2014, 08:42:17 PM
Add Immigration to the list though that can be state regulated as in California and the requirements for non lawyers can be tricky and may require both training and sponsorship.

http://www.sos.ca.gov/business/sf/imm-consultant-qualifications.htm
Title: Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: barprephero on May 16, 2014, 10:02:35 PM
Depending on your undergrad, I guess Patent Agent can make this list too.
Not sure why anyone would want to do that though.
Title: Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: legalpractitioner on May 17, 2014, 05:42:06 AM
Patent Agent is a good one.  With a JD, one can make some of these professions pay as well as a solo law practice.  Social Security Advocates charge the same as attorneys and there are numerous lawyers who have made a good living just confining their work to Social Security.  If I had a choice between a an advocate without a JD or a JD from a California registered online school, the latter might have an edge. A lot of California distance learning JDs will never pass the bar but that does not mean they are incompetent.
Title: Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on May 17, 2014, 09:58:38 AM
The best bet is probably SS advocate, simply because there are so many potential clients.

Something like McKenzie Friends is probably necessary in the U.S. in order to provide low(er) cost, basic legal assistance. But it's got to be regulated, and the regs need to be enforced.

Here in CA we have a problem with "notarios", which are a common feature in Latin America but operate here without any oversight. They often have no legal training, don't carry malpractice insurance, and give out bad advice. In many cases they are simply practicing law without a license, and their clients get what they pay for.

I'd rather see that replaced with something like McKenzie Friends.
Title: Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: barprephero on May 17, 2014, 02:01:20 PM
The best bet is probably SS advocate, simply because there are so many potential clients.

Something like McKenzie Friends is probably necessary in the U.S. in order to provide low(er) cost, basic legal assistance. But it's got to be regulated, and the regs need to be enforced.

Here in CA we have a problem with "notarios", which are a common feature in Latin America but operate here without any oversight. They often have no legal training, don't carry malpractice insurance, and give out bad advice. In many cases they are simply practicing law without a license, and their clients get what they pay for.

I'd rather see that replaced with something like McKenzie Friends.
I see flaws with this still though. Who is going to hire them? What firms? Are they to go solo? Where does the experience needed to do a quality job come from? Do they "learn as they go"? If so how did they afford liability insurance for when they (and they will) get sued along the way?
How did they survive while waiting on the contingency fees as well? They often takes years and many times don't come at all.

If you can get into a ESTABLSIHED FIRM then yes. If not, then it's a bad idea.
Title: Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on May 17, 2014, 03:45:32 PM
 I agree, there are many associated problems. For selfish purposes I would rather see the legal field restricted to lawyers. However, many people can't afford a lawyer and need some very basic guidance. There could be a way to regulate this stuff, as they do in the UK. 

They tend to operate as solo practitioners now, and I assume that would be the case even if they got some kind of license. Firms aren't going to hire them.

Another issue is this: many of their clients may not care whether or not they're licensed or bonded, so regulating the field may not have much impact. 

As it is now, they are allowed to help with stuff like document preparation. However, they routinely give (very bad) legal advice. It's a serious problem.
Title: Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: legalpractitioner on May 17, 2014, 05:56:23 PM
There are some nationwide Social Security Advocacy firms that apparently do well enough to advertise a lot.  They are regulated by SSA.  California requires Immigration Consultants to post bond. Public Notaries such as they exists in some states also provide independent paralegal services.  Given that lawyers have a lot more latitude to cheat clients and state bars are often indifferent regulators - as long as there is a need someone will provide the service.  My point is that most DL law students will fail to pass the California bar but they can still work in the legal system and provide services while turning a profit equal or better than a solo practitioner if they are good enough.
Title: Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: barprephero on May 17, 2014, 08:27:05 PM
There are some nationwide Social Security Advocacy firms that apparently do well enough to advertise a lot.  They are regulated by SSA.  California requires Immigration Consultants to post bond. Public Notaries such as they exists in some states also provide independent paralegal services.  Given that lawyers have a lot more latitude to cheat clients and state bars are often indifferent regulators - as long as there is a need someone will provide the service.  My point is that most DL law students will fail to pass the California bar but they can still work in the legal system and provide services while turning a profit equal or better than a solo practitioner if they are good enough.

It's a nice theory, but in that same theory you can do it with a GED or less too.

I can't imagine those firms would hire online grads unless they already had a lot of experience and had passed the bar. If you have an uncle or something to get you the experience then after a few years I bet the firms would take you. Otherwise you have a better chance making a profit on a paper route. Even licensed ABA grads get turned down for those jobs if they lack the experience or weren't the top 10% of their class.
Title: Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: legalpractitioner on May 19, 2014, 06:49:27 PM
Yes that would be true if one did not take initiative but NOSSCR offers training for SSA advocates.  A high school grad likely would not be able to handle the paperwork or rules involved.  SSA is actually one of the most complex areas of the law which is why few attorneys go there.
Title: Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: legalpractitioner on May 19, 2014, 06:52:21 PM

[/quote]
 Even licensed ABA grads get turned down for those jobs if they lack the experience or weren't the top 10% of their class.
[/quote]

Why on earth would a DL graduate expect to be handed a job?  They shouldn't go that route if you expect a job at the end - you can expect to be gainfully self employed if you are willing to put in the effort though.
Title: Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: barprephero on May 19, 2014, 07:31:03 PM

Even licensed ABA grads get turned down for those jobs if they lack the experience or weren't the top 10% of their class.
[/quote]

Why on earth would a DL graduate expect to be handed a job?  They shouldn't go that route if you expect a job at the end - you can expect to be gainfully self employed if you are willing to put in the effort though.
[/quote]
you missed my point
and if you can't expect to get a job, you shouldn't go to school for it
gainfully self employed isn't really a thing, its more of a myth that an unlicensed person with an unaccredited degree will be able to do anything worth doing on their own. I don't doubt some will, but we're talking single digit percentiles.

I am not saying that anyone should expect anything to be "handed to them" just that they have far less odds than the groups that I was comparing them to, who  themselves are not in the best situations as far as that goes.

If someone really wants to go that route I guess an EJD would be "ok" to do, but it really seems foolish.

If you don't plan to get licensed at least go to a real school and get a Masters Degree in law from them. At least people will see a name they know/trust/respect and it will be regionally accredited. Heck get a masters degree in Paralegal if you want to work under lawyers without being one too I guess.
Title: Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: barprephero on May 19, 2014, 07:33:50 PM
Yes that would be true if one did not take initiative but NOSSCR offers training for SSA advocates.  A high school grad likely would not be able to handle the paperwork or rules involved.  SSA is actually one of the most complex areas of the law which is why few attorneys go there.

I had to look up NOSSCR. They appear to be a voluntary group and not required to be a member of do SSA work. But if one did want to be a member it doesn't look like even an 8th grade education is required to participate.

I'll post a direct link to it in case anyone is interested. It might help someone. I honestly do wish people the best with all things advocate related, I would just hate to see people get a doctorate degree that doesn't provide anywhere near the value to them as it takes them to achieve it.
http://nosscr.org/
Title: Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: legalpractitioner on June 03, 2014, 02:30:12 AM
True there is no education requirement to be an  SSA advocate but it sure helps.  Besides being a lucrative field, it is one in which people are actually getting helped.  Same with Workers Comp and Veterans Disability.  A lot of attorneys still think these are "bottom feeder" fields - very, very wrong. These are among the most complex areas of the law, not the least.
Title: Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: barprephero on June 03, 2014, 10:16:04 AM
True there is no education requirement to be an  SSA advocate but it sure helps.  Besides being a lucrative field, it is one in which people are actually getting helped.  Same with Workers Comp and Veterans Disability.  A lot of attorneys still think these are "bottom feeder" fields - very, very wrong. These are among the most complex areas of the law, not the least.

so.......if they are the MOST complex, then wouldn't it make sense NOT to walk into them unlicensed (even if "legal") and without working under someone else first? And who will let you work under them if unlicensed? (no one)

so there is the quagmire of that. I think people see it's "legal" and just want to believe a thing for false hope, so they believe it.
Title: Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on June 03, 2014, 01:30:36 PM
If you're going into business for yourself as a solo practitioner doing SSA or VA advocacy, it doesn't matter if you're licensed. It's not going to prevent you from hiring yourself, and nothing you learn for the bar exam is going to prepare you anyway.
 
Is it a good idea to go into solo practice straight out of law school, and without a mentor? Depends on the individual. Some people are smart enough to figure it out, especially if they have previous experience in the field. Others aren't, and need some hand holding at first.

I could see it being a problem if clients want a licensed attorney as opposed to a mere advocate, but frankly, I doubt if most actually care. What they want is someone who can win, regardless of licensure.
   
Title: Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: barprephero on June 03, 2014, 02:12:27 PM
If you're going into business for yourself as a solo practitioner doing SSA or VA advocacy, it doesn't matter if you're licensed. It's not going to prevent you from hiring yourself, and nothing you learn for the bar exam is going to prepare you anyway.
 
Is it a good idea to go into solo practice straight out of law school, and without a mentor? Depends on the individual. Some people are smart enough to figure it out, especially if they have previous experience in the field. Others aren't, and need some hand holding at first.

I could see it being a problem if clients want a licensed attorney as opposed to a mere advocate, but frankly, I doubt if most actually care. What they want is someone who can win, regardless of licensure.
   

This strikes me as professional suicide with HUGE liabilities
Title: Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: Burning Sands, Esq. on June 03, 2014, 03:17:09 PM
I'm a bit confused by the discussion in this thread seeing as how nobody can "practice law" without a license.   Practicing law without a license is a crime in any state, including the state of California:

BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONS CODE
SECTION 6125-6133

6125.  No person shall practice law in California unless the person
is an active member of the State Bar.

6126.  (a) Any person advertising or holding himself or herself out
as practicing or entitled to practice law or otherwise practicing law
who is not an active member of the State Bar, or otherwise
authorized pursuant to statute or court rule to practice law in this
state at the time of doing so, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable
by up to one year in a county jail or by a fine of up to one thousand
dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment. Upon a
second or subsequent conviction, the person shall be confined in a
county jail for not less than 90 days, except in an unusual case
where the interests of justice would be served by imposition of a
lesser sentence or a fine. If the court imposes only a fine or a
sentence of less than 90 days for a second or subsequent conviction
under this subdivision, the court shall state the reasons for its
sentencing choice on the record.

Title: Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on June 03, 2014, 04:37:52 PM
Yes, that's absolutely right. Practicing law without a license is illegal and unethical.

I think what we're talking about I this thread are a few jobs in which a legal education would be helpful, but bar admission is not required.

The fine line that such an individual must walk is to avoid giving legal advice (practicing law) while still advocating for their client. My understanding is that non-lawyers can represent clients in certain administrative hearings such as SSA, VA, Patent Office, and some IRS proceedings.

They aren't supposed to hold themselves out as attorneys or offer legal advice, although I imagine that does indeed happen.
Title: Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on June 03, 2014, 05:27:30 PM
If you're going into business for yourself as a solo practitioner doing SSA or VA advocacy, it doesn't matter if you're licensed. It's not going to prevent you from hiring yourself, and nothing you learn for the bar exam is going to prepare you anyway.
 
Is it a good idea to go into solo practice straight out of law school, and without a mentor? Depends on the individual. Some people are smart enough to figure it out, especially if they have previous experience in the field. Others aren't, and need some hand holding at first.

I could see it being a problem if clients want a licensed attorney as opposed to a mere advocate, but frankly, I doubt if most actually care. What they want is someone who can win, regardless of licensure.
   

This strikes me as professional suicide with HUGE liabilities

To be clear, when I say "solo practitioner" I'm talking about jobs that don't require bar admission, not lawyers. To practice law without licensure is flatly illegal.

As far as "professional suicide" and liability, I imagine the potential liability for an SSA advocate or patent agent, etc is similar to that of a lawyer: professional malpractice. I'm not sure if they are required to carry professional liability insurance.

As far as actually practicing law as a solo practitioner straight out of law school, I wouldn't have felt competent enough. I would have been scared of screwing up. But, some people have more experience than others. I have a friend who worked for several years as a paralegal at a family law firm, then continued working during law school. By the time she graduated and passed the bar she had something like 7-8 years of experience in family law, and felt totally competent going solo. It just depends.
Title: Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: Burning Sands, Esq. on June 03, 2014, 05:57:05 PM
Yes, that's absolutely right. Practicing law without a license is illegal and unethical.

I think what we're talking about I this thread are a few jobs in which a legal education would be helpful, but bar admission is not required.

The fine line that such an individual must walk is to avoid giving legal advice (practicing law) while still advocating for their client. My understanding is that non-lawyers can represent clients in certain administrative hearings such as SSA, VA, Patent Office, and some IRS proceedings.

They aren't supposed to hold themselves out as attorneys or offer legal advice, although I imagine that does indeed happen.

I see.

In that case, law school itself is not needed for those kinds of positions.
Title: Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: barprephero on June 03, 2014, 06:11:56 PM
I understand that you meant advocate vs attorney, I still think it would be wreckless for people to do solo without experience.
I agree also with burningsands that you don't even need a JD to do it. I honestly don't think it would matter to have an online JD other than to add the letters after a name on a card to hand out to people (although the bar may require a disclosure of not being licensed if one did)

I gave it thought once and did work as an advocate in law school, but I had lots of questions that I needed a supervisor for. If not for the supervising attorneys and heck, even the paralegals I'd have been likely to make bad mistakes.

If someone wanted to do it unlicensed I'd say start as a paralegal in such a firm first. There are SSA paralegal jobs all over the internet with want ads. I'd say start there, glean info, and then become an advocate after that.
Title: Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: Burning Sands, Esq. on June 03, 2014, 09:14:14 PM
I think a prime example is the distinction between a patent agent and a patent attorney).  Both a patent agent and a patent attorney have to take and pass the patent bar.  After taking the patent bar, both can file a patent application with the USPTO on somebody's behalf.  But the patent agent cannot give advice to a patent inventor, which, critically, includes advice on whether or not the inventor's patent might be infringing on someone else's patent or vice versa. In addition, the patent agent cannot draft license agreements or other contracts that would help the inventor earn royalties on their invention.  And, of course, the patent agent cannot represent an inventor in court if and when their patent is challenged by another inventor.  The patent agent can only prosecute patents inside the USPTO, which goes back to the point someone raised earlier about being an "advocate" vs. being an attorney: the patent agent can be an advocate by helping somebody navigate the complex labyrinth of procedures inside the USPTO, but their advocacy ends there.  Anything beyond that requires an attorney.

As with the other "advocate" positions raised earlier, one does not need a law degree to be a patent agent.  A Bachelor's will do just fine.  In other words, you don't need go through the time, energy and expense of law school in order to be an "advocate."  If that is your end goal, then you can get started on that path now and skip the J.D.
Title: Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: barprephero on June 03, 2014, 09:46:12 PM
Yes and NO to that distinction.

At least the patent agent has to take an exam and have a minimum amount of specific relevant education.
With the SSA Agent argument, it is any GED or less drug addict with time on his hands.
Title: Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on June 03, 2014, 11:43:48 PM
As with the other "advocate" positions raised earlier, one does not need a law degree to be a patent agent.  A Bachelor's will do just fine.  In other words, you don't need go through the time, energy and expense of law school in order to be an "advocate."  If that is your end goal, then you can get started on that path now and skip the J.D.

Indeed.

If the goal is to become a patent agent or SSA advocate, then spending money on a JD probably does not pass the cost/benefit analysis. I believe the OP's intention, however, was to point out career options for DL students who do not pass the bar.

Let's say you get an online/correspondence JD, take the bar a few times, and realize that it's not going to happen. Is there a way to utilize the knowledge and make money? Perhaps.

Although a JD is not required for these careers, knowledge of statutory construction, civil procedure, and maybe conlaw is useful. In that way the JD holder can enhance their abilities and be a better patent agent, SSA advocate, etc.

I don't think the OP was suggesting that anyone obtain a JD in order to become an advocate, or that they become an advocate in lieu of professional licensure.   
Title: Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: Burning Sands, Esq. on June 04, 2014, 05:38:35 AM

At least the patent agent has to take an exam and have a minimum amount of specific relevant education.

True. Good point.
Title: Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: Burning Sands, Esq. on June 04, 2014, 05:48:17 AM
As with the other "advocate" positions raised earlier, one does not need a law degree to be a patent agent.  A Bachelor's will do just fine.  In other words, you don't need go through the time, energy and expense of law school in order to be an "advocate."  If that is your end goal, then you can get started on that path now and skip the J.D.

Indeed.

If the goal is to become a patent agent or SSA advocate, then spending money on a JD probably does not pass the cost/benefit analysis. I believe the OP's intention, however, was to point out career options for DL students who do not pass the bar.

Let's say you get an online/correspondence JD, take the bar a few times, and realize that it's not going to happen. Is there a way to utilize the knowledge and make money? Perhaps.

Although a JD is not required for these careers, knowledge of statutory construction, civil procedure, and maybe conlaw is useful. In that way the JD holder can enhance their abilities and be a better patent agent, SSA advocate, etc.

I don't think the OP was suggesting that anyone obtain a JD in order to become an advocate, or that they become an advocate in lieu of professional licensure.

Right. I guess my comments were focused on the OP's premise where they said:

Quote
Given that a number of DL students won't pass the California Bar

This is effectively a concession that if you go into a DL program then you will not end up practicing law.  In other words, a DL program will relegate you to a life of advocacy at best, but not the practice of law.

If such is the case, and we are aware of this information as we sit here today, then why even bother going to a DL law school? Just begin your advocacy right now and skip law school.
Title: Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on June 04, 2014, 09:14:58 AM
Well, my guess is that nearly all DL begin their JD studies with the intent to become a lawyer. They look at the stats and say "Ok, I'll be in that 15% that passes and gets licensed." For a few this works out fine, they get licensed, and have successful careers as solo practitioners or small firm lawyers. For most it doesn't, and these careers could offer viable alternatives. 
Title: Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: barprephero on June 04, 2014, 09:31:39 AM
Well, my guess is that nearly all DL begin their JD studies with the intent to become a lawyer. They look at the stats and say "Ok, I'll be in that 15% that passes and gets licensed." For a few this works out fine, they get licensed, and have successful careers as solo practitioners or small firm lawyers. For most it doesn't, and these careers could offer viable alternatives.

I would agree with this, if we removed the word "viable"
Title: Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on June 04, 2014, 03:27:38 PM
Well, my guess is that nearly all DL begin their JD studies with the intent to become a lawyer. They look at the stats and say "Ok, I'll be in that 15% that passes and gets licensed." For a few this works out fine, they get licensed, and have successful careers as solo practitioners or small firm lawyers. For most it doesn't, and these careers could offer viable alternatives.

I would agree with this, if we removed the work "viable"

Depends on the individual. If someone is smart, personable, and knows how to hustle they can make a decent career out of one of these fields.

On the other hand someone can have a JD, pass the bar, and still be unemployable because they can't get along with people, lack common sense, etc. It all comes down to personal attributes (or lack thereof).
Title: Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: barprephero on June 04, 2014, 03:35:20 PM
Well, my guess is that nearly all DL begin their JD studies with the intent to become a lawyer. They look at the stats and say "Ok, I'll be in that 15% that passes and gets licensed." For a few this works out fine, they get licensed, and have successful careers as solo practitioners or small firm lawyers. For most it doesn't, and these careers could offer viable alternatives.

I would agree with this, if we removed the work "viable"

Depends on the individual. If someone is smart, personable, and knows how to hustle they can make a decent career out of one of these fields.

On the other hand someone can have a JD, pass the bar, and still be unemployable because they can't get along with people, lack common sense, etc. It all comes down to personal attributes (or lack thereof).
we're talking fraction of a percent in that extreme compared to an extreme. Focusing just on the second example, not really true. They might have to settle for something "beneath" them, but their ODDS of getting SOMETHING are better (far better) even if we're talking the best of the best compared to the worst of the worst.
Title: Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: barprephero on June 07, 2014, 01:46:14 AM
I forgot about this before (and I don't think anyone mentioned it yet) but Mediation. Most states have a separate license for it that does not require a JD (just an internship under others) It allows you to do ADR type law that many lawyers end up doing anyways.

They are largely volunteer jobs, but its an idea.


Also, most states have programs to advocate for orphans and abused kids. Also largely unpaid, but here is an example link of a place that provides training for it too. http://www.childadvocates.org/volunteer/court-appointed

Both fall short of requiring a JD but still have some training and supervision requirements before getting licensed/certified and let you do duties traditionally assigned to attorneys.
Title: Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
Post by: legalpractitioner on August 03, 2014, 10:04:12 AM
Yes, you have also got a whole field of Special Education Advocates.

Having a 4 year DL law degree would be a big plus; all these non attorney advocacy jobs rely very heavily on understanding and interpreting rules.  That is something a JD would be able to do while someone without a law degree would likely be ineffective at best.  They also all provide services that people need.