Welcome to the Special Committee on the Unlawful Practice of Law
Committee Purpose and Recent History: In the 1970's, the Special Committee on Unlawful Practice of Law (UPL) actively investigated UPL complaints and issued opinions on UPL. Because of antitrust concerns, in 1981 the Executive Committee directed that the committee stop the issuance of opinions and refer complaints to the Attorney General for investigation. Since that time, the committee's function has been to examine general topics of UPL and propose legislation. After the committee was discharged in 1992, a new committee was appointed in 1996 in response to a recommendation for active enforcement of laws prohibiting the practice of law by non-lawyers made by the Association’s Ad Hoc Committee on Non Lawyer Practice In 1999, as a result of concerns about lawyers participating in business entities owned or controlled by non-lawyers, the Association’s Special Committee on the Law Governing Firm Structure and Operation (the MacCrate Committee) was appointed to study multi-disciplinary practice. In June 2000, the House of Delegates approved the MacCrate Report and called for “an appropriate committee within the Association [to] be designated to evaluate and draft appropriate statutory amendments refining the definition of the practice of law in New York. The committee’s report to the House of Delegates recommending amendments to the definition of practice of law was returned to committee in January 2002.
Current Activities: The committee was revived once again in 2005. In 2006, the committee presented a report to the House of Delegates which approved the following recommendations. These recommendations form the bulk of current work of the committee.
In June 2008, the committee submitted an Interim Report to the Executive Committee. The committee reviewed the results of its research over the course of the prior year and concluded that although unauthorized practice may not be a serious problem across the entire spectrum of the legal practice areas in New York State, low-income and unsophisticated consumers unfamiliar with the law and/or in precarious financial or legal situations are at risk of harm from incompetent or unscrupulous non-lawyers. The committee recommended that a series of forums be held to delve more deeply into concerns it uncovered in the areas of bankruptcy, immigration and residential real estate transactions. It is anticipated that these forums will be held early in calendar year 2009.
Thank you for your interest in the Special Committee on the Unlawful Practice of Law. For additional information, please contact the committee’s staff liaison, Richard Rifkin at email@example.com.