Unauthorized Practice of Law

Unauthorized Practice of Law:

Individuals who do not possess a law license sometimes (knowingly or unknowingly) engage in the practice of law by providing legal advice for a fee, representing people (other than themselves) or businesses in court, or preparing legal forms or pleadings for people representing themselves. Tennessee Code Annotated 23-3-101, et seq. forbids the unauthorized practice of law. It provides in part as follows:

  • (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 Tennessee 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 part; 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 part. 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 part, including, but not limited to, reasonable attorney fees as well as expert and other witness fees.

If you are aware of any person or company that may be practicing law without a license, then you can file a complaint with the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office. Complaint forms and instructions are available at: http://tennessee.gov/attorneygeneral/upl/ The Attorney General’s Office can file civil lawsuits against individuals and companies engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.