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Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee

OPINION 94-102

SUBJECT: Whether an individual who possesses a "Paralegal Certificate" from Pennsylvania State University and has worked for a lawyer for several years as a Paralegal/Secretary can open her own business to specifically assist laypersons in filing legal documentation in various types of matters without being engaged in the unauthorized practice of law as set forth in 42 Pa. C.S.A. 2524.

It is the Committee's OPINION that such a business would be a violation of Pennsylvania Statute prohibiting the Unauthorized Practice of Law, Pa. C.S.A. Section 2524. The Committee further cites the opinion by Judge Markovitz in the case of In Re Harris, 152 B.R.440 (W.D.Pa. 1993) wherein the Court noted that a typing service engaged in preparing bankruptcy forms for its clients, made determinations as to whether property could be claimed as exempt, determined whether clients and creditors were holding secured or unsecured claims, determined whether clients were parties to any executory contracts or unexpired leases, determined whether clients had any co-debtors, advised clients as to the penalties for making false oath on forms, and otherwise exercised legal judgement, training and skill in excess of what the average lay person reasonably could be expected to possess and, therefore, was in violation of the Pennsylvania Statute above quoted.