What is the "practice of law?"
The practice of law is defined by statute and by case law. Section 81.101 of the Texas Government Code states:
(a) In this chapter the "practice of law" means the preparation of a pleading or other document incident to an action or special proceeding or the management of the action or proceeding on behalf of a client before a judge in court as well as a service rendered out of court, including the giving of advice or the rendering of any service requiring the use of legal skill or knowledge, such as preparing a will, contract, or other instrument, the legal effect of which under the facts and conclusions involved must be carefully determined.
(b) The definition in this section is not exclusive and does not deprive the judicial branch of the power and authority under both this chapter and the adjudicated cases to determine whether other services and acts not enumerated may constitute the practice of law.
(c) In this chapter, the "practice of law" does not include the design, creation, publication, distribution, display, or sale, including publication, distribution, display, or sale by means of an Internet web site, of written materials, books, forms, computer software, or similar products if the products clearly and conspicuously state that the products are not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. This subsection does not authorize the use of the products or similar media in violation of Chapter 83 and does not affect the applicability or enforceability of that chapter.
The courts ultimately decide what is the practice of law. Click Here to view a sampling of appellate decisions regarding what is the practice of law.
Who can practice law in Texas?
Only members of the State Bar of Texas and other persons who comply with the Texas Supreme Court's rules regarding the practice of law may practice law in Texas. The Texas Board of Law Examiners is responsible for reviewing the character and fitness of an applicant for the practice of law in Texas.
What is the Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee?
The UPLC is a committee appointed by the Texas Supreme Court. There are nine members who are lawyers and non-lawyers. The members serve for three year staggered terms. Click Here for a list of the committee members.
What does the Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee do?
The UPLC is charged with eliminating the UPL and reporting to the Texas Supreme Court and the State Bar of Texas about its actions and UPL in Texas by non-lawyers and the activities of lawyers to aid UPL. The UPLC delegates the investigation of UPL complaints to investigators who are members of local subcommittees appointed by the UPLC. The UPLC meets at least twice a year to receive reports from its regional and district chairpersons and votes whether to authorize civil court lawsuits to enjoin the unauthorized practice of law. If suit is authorized, the suit is prosecuted for the UPLC by volunteer attorneys. The UPLC cannot give advisory opinions about whether a certain activity is UPL.
How do I make a complaint to the UPLC?
You can make a complaint online by choosing the "Complaint Form" button on the main menu of this website. Otherwise, you can obtain a complaint form by calling (512) 427-1341, or by requesting a complaint form at firstname.lastname@example.org, and following the instructions on the complaint form.
If I suffer a loss as a result of the unauthorized practice of law, can the UPLC get my money back?
The UPLC is not charged with recovering money for persons who file a UPL complaint. If a lawsuit is filed, the UPLC will not seek to recover money for you. The UPLC seeks in its lawsuits to enjoin the unauthorized practice of law in the future. Sometimes as a result of a UPL investigation, the complaint is resolved by an agreement with the respondent that includes restitution to the complaining person. However, the UPLC cannot promise such a result.
Are the records of the UPLC open to the public?
The UPLC is considered a "judicial agency" and is therefore not subject to open records statutes. However, the Texas Supreme Court has promulgated a rule (Rule 12 of the Texas Rules of Judicial Administration) that permits disclosure of certain information. This rule must be consulted to determine what information is available to the public.
How do I join the UPLC or its subcommittees?
Members of the UPLC must be appointed by the Texas Supreme Court. You may contact the Supreme Court if you have an interest in being appointed to the UPLC. If you wish to become a member of one of the UPLC's subcommittees, you should contact the chairperson of the subcommittee and let the chairperson know of your interest. Contact information for the subcommittee chairperson can be obtain by selecting the "Subcommittee" button on the main menu of this website. Applicants for subcommittee membership are reviewed by the chairperson of the UPLC, who reserves full discretion regarding such appointments.
The information provided above is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. You should consult an attorney regarding your rights under the law.