Redefining Unauthorized Practice

March 14, 2016 § Leave a comment

Up for comment at this link are some new rules proposed to redefine the practice of law in Mississippi vis a vis unauthorized practice and “interloping” by lawyers from other states. Your comments are welcome through March 28, 2016.

One salutary goal is to clarify who may come into Mississippi from other states to handle legal matters here, including litigation, arbitrations, mediations, etc., and the myriad other transactions that have lawyers flitting from state to state, and dipping into our jurisdiction.

An important provision, as I see it, is Section 2(f), which reiterates longstanding Mississippi law that preparation of agreements, contracts, pleadings, deeds, and the like does constitute the practice of law. The obvious reason is that selection of the proper documents, their terms, and when and how to use them require legal judgment and analysis beyond the skill level conferred by Google searches.

We all have seen far too many dreadful computer-generated pleadings and documents that people purchase online from papermills. Likewise, it seems that every county has one or several backwoods, shadowy characters who, for a “modest” fee, will prepare the paperwork parties need to file ID divorces and simple matters. In most cases, the likelihood of damage is small, but there are no ethical bounds on those document-preparers, and there is always the possibility that some legal issue with later, larger ramifications, will go overlooked.

Whether these changes will do the job remains to be seen. It seems to be an elusive problem.


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