Unauthorized Practice of Law (UPL)

An area in which California paralegals often get into trouble if they are not careful is UPL (Unauthorized Practice of Law). According to California Business and Professions Code section 6450, paralegals in California shall not do the following:

Provide legal Advice
Represent a client in court
Select, explain, draft or recommend the use of any legal document to or for any person other than the attorney who directs and supervises the paralegal.
Act as a runner or capper, as defined in Sections 6151 and 6152.
Engage in conduct that constitutes the practice of law
Contract with or be employed by, a natural person other than an attorney to perform paralegal services.
In connection with providing paralegal services, induce a person to make an investment, purchase a financial product or service, or enter a transaction from which income or profit, or both, purportedly may be derived.
Established the fees to charge a client for the services the paralegal performs. . .

Paralegals need to learn this list of “shall not” conduct in order to avoid crossing the line into UPL. Paralegals, by definition, work for attorneys. They do not work for members of the public directly. Those who work for the public directly may not call themselves “paralegals.” This may be unpopular among some who call themselves “paralegals,” but it is the law.

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