Unauthorized Practice of Law, Colorado

CO Supreme Court courtroom Unauthorized Practice of LawUnauthorized Practice of Law, Colorado

The Colorado Supreme Court rules on cases of Unauthorized Practice of Law (UPL) in Colorado.  Activities included in the definition of the practice of law are:

(1) Giving legal advice or counsel about legal rights or responsibilities;
(2) Selecting, drafting, or completing legal documents;
(3) Representing a person (client) before an adjudicative body;
(4) Preparing or filing documents or conducting discovery; or
(5) Negotiating legal rights or responsibilities.

Research on Colorado UPL Cases

CO Supreme Court building Denver

The table below lists Colorado Supreme Court UPL cases since 2000.  Some of the cases have been researched and summarized, showing the unauthorized acts performed, and some brief case notesCase numbers are shown as a reference for further research.

The table may be useful for research or learning more about the types of activities to avoid if you do not have a current license to practice law in Colorado.

Additional Colorado UPL Case Information

At the end of the article is a web link to a spreadsheet PDF file that includes additional information including defendant names, date of the court decision, and disposition, including an injunction, costs, fine, client restitution.  In some cases, defendants were found in contempt of court.  A few cases ended in criminal convictions and sentencing in the Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC).

Types of UPL Violations

In some cases, defendants were trying to help friends or family members with legal matters or acting under a Power of Attorney (POA).  A POA does not authorize the practice of law.

Providing legal advice, selecting or preparing legal forms for others, including estate planning, trusts, immigration, divorce, small claims court, and bankruptcy documents, are common problem areas.

Representing a client, or preparing documents for a court case, hearing, settlement negotiations, or debt collection are other problems found.

Colorado Supreme Court Case Numberrepresent clientprepare caselegal advicelegal opinionlegal serviceslegal docsNotes
00SA061xxxxprepared pleadings for clients, negotiated settlement, held himself out to be attorney
00SA224xxxxxprepared trust docs for father, received payment, represented father in child support dispute, filed motions and complaint
01SA057xxxselected bankruptcy forms, gave bankruptcy advice, advertised under attorneys in Yellow Pages
01SA085xxxnon-attorney, worked in law office, gave legal advice on contract dispute causing harm to client
01SA132xxxxprepared and filed divorce docs for husband and wife
01SA136xxxxgave legal advice to parents in dependency and neglect proceeding, drafted pleadings, acted under POA, POA does not authorize practice of law
01SA155xxxacted under POA to represent client in quiet title action, POA does not authorize practice of law
01SA158xxxxprepared divorce, bankruptcy docs
01SA342xxxgave legal advice on immigration laws, real estate, ads on Spanish TV
01SA362xxxadvertised as a lawyer, gave legal advice, offered to represent clients
02SA082xxxindependent paralegal, gave legal advice, selected and prepared bankruptcy pleadings
02SA286xxxxxlicensed to practice law in California, not Colorado, entered agreements with clients on Colorado matters, provided legal advice, drafted appeal brief
02SA329xxxadvertised paralegal services, provided legal advice, prepared legal docs, trusts, charged fee
03SA077xxxxacted as personal injury mediator and consultant, wrote demand letters for client to settle case, interpreted insurance coverage
03SA187xxgave legal advice, analyzed work done by lawyer, gave questions to client as guide in fee arbitration hearing
03SA282xxxxprepared complaint for client, accepted fees, held himself out as attorney
03SA283xxheld himself out as attorney, represented clients in court
03SA284xxxheld himself out as attorney, represented juvenile in court, charged fee
03SA303xxrepresented self and co-defendants in lawsuit, filed response
03SA326xxxadvertised immigration doc preparation service, held out that she was a lawyer or paralegal, charged fee for legal advice
03SA377xxxacted as legal rep for clients, received fees, pursued notarial protest
04SA098xxxxwife prepared court docs for husband as representative
04SA148xxxrepresented client in real estate transaction, wrote and filed real estate docs for client, filed lawsuit for client
04SA173xxxacted as legal rep in small claims court, received fee for paralegal work, charged fee to prepare legal docs for divorce
04SA301xxxxprepared and filed pleadings against city for self and mother, represented mother in court, mother hired attorney and filed UPL complaint
04SA393xxxadvertised as attorney in Spanish phonebook, gave legal advice, received fees
04SA405xxxheld himself out as legal rep for client, prepared pleadings, assumed false identity of attorney
05SA059xxxxacted as legal rep in motor vehicle accident case, prepared pleadings, explained docs, received fee
05SA067xxxprepared bankruptcy docs, gave bankruptcy advice, charged fees
05SA157xxxadvertised as notario publico providing immigration services, selected and prepared immigration form for client
05SA158xxprepared and filed immigration docs, advertised immigration law assistance
05SA374xxxxfound clients in court records, negotiated debt settlements, charged fee
06SA205xxxagreed to select, prepare and file immigration docs for client, received fees, gave immigration advice
06SA309xxxxadvertised as immigration consultant, acted as legal rep, prepared immigration and divorce docs, charged fees
06SA310xxxadvertised estate planning services, held seminars, prepared estate plans
07SA077xxxrepresented clients in criminal cases, claimed to be authorized in tribal courts
07SA162xxxxxparalegal, filed court pleadings for client, acted under Power of Attorney, POA does not authorize practice of law
08SA065xxxxheld himself out to be attorney, represented clients, negotiated settlement
08SA101xxoperated stores that sold legal forms, client paid $499 for living trust to be typed into standard WTP living trust form, gave client living trust workbook, requested client fill in personal info to draft trust, did not show trust form to client
08SA190advertised as attorney, did not represent clients
08SA324xxdebt collection
08SA367xxxheld herself out to be an attorney, selected and prepared immigration forms, gave legal advice on immigration
08SA408xxxlaw school graduate, not licensed to practice law, used Esq after name, formed LLC to buy foreclosures, filed statement with county showing fees for legal research, negotiations, filing pleadings, used fictitious name, convicted of impersonation, sentenced to 2 years in DOC
09SA003xxxadvertised law offices, accepted retainer to assist in immigration matter and represent client in court
09SA018xxadvertised, selected and prepared immigration forms
09SA043xxxxxgave legal advice, prepared complaint and pleadings for landlord-tenant case, attended hearings and explained them, sought attorney fees
09SA065xxxadvertised document preparation services, selected and prepared pleadings for fee
09SA067xxadvertised under attorney referrals, received fees to represent client on child support case, did not work case, client received refund
09SA080xxxxxadvertised as Certified Attorney Assistant, paralegal office, legal services, legal advice, legal doc preparation, bankruptcy docs
09SA115xxxadvertised as advocate group for pro se litigants, prepared legal pleadings for clients, charged fees
09SA120xxxgave legal advice to client about case, received payment, held himself out to be an attorney
09SA122xxxxadvertised on CraigsList, business card said JD, legal advocate, negotiated car accident settlement for client with insurance company, received check, solicited appeal work
09SA131xxxxparalegal at law office, gave legal advice, wrote letters and pleadings for client, received fee
09SA268xxxselected and prepared legal docs for client in collections lawsuit
09SA365xxxwebsite advertised legal advice and preparation of immigration docs, incorrect forms and preparation
09SA366, 11SA053xxxrepresented inmate in criminal case as lay advocate/legal consultant, contempt for failure to obey injunction
09SA372xxxxprepared bankruptcy petitions, presented pleadings in court
10SA035xxassisted in selection and preparation of legal forms, including immigration docs, received fees
10SA066xxxrepresented client in court cases, filed pleadings, acted under POA, POA does not authorize practice of law
10SA067xxxgave legal advice, selected and prepared legal docs, held himself out as legal counsel, pled guilty to criminal charges, sentenced to 10 years in DOC, $590,000 restitution
10SA154xxxprepared and sold living trusts
10SA155xxprovided immigration doc assistance, selected and prepared immigration forms
10SA300xxxxparalegal, prepared pleadings for debt collection lawsuit, received payment for legal fees
10SA301xxxadvertised paralegal services assisting with doc preparation, help for pro se litigants, selected and prepared various legal forms
10SA380xxxxselected and prepared immigration forms for client, received fees, forms rejected by USCIS
11SA074xxnegotiated mortgage loan modifications for clients with lender
11SA146xxxacted under power of attorney to represent estranged wife in controversy with bank, POA does not authorize practice of law, advertised debt resolution services
11SA150xselected bankruptcy forms for client, charged fee
11SA151xxxxselected and prepared immigration docs for client,
11SA154xxxfiled lawsuits against city for self and 2 others
11SA263xxxxselected and prepared immigration docs for clients, gave legal advice
11SA266 (Consolidated with 12SA56 & 12SA153)
11SA270xxxxbusiness card said legal help, advertised bankruptcy services in phonebook, received payment to help clients file bankruptcy, selected and prepared bankruptcy forms
11SA360xxadvertised immigration service, selected and helped prepare immigration forms
12SA058xxxselected and prepared motion for client in immigration proceedings
12SA147xxrepresented client in careless driving, DUI case
12SA276 (Consolidated with 12SA146)

Unauthorized Practice of Law

Non-lawyers should avoid acts that may be considered as unauthorized practice of law (UPL) in Colorado.

Colorado UPL Resources

Spreadsheet with additional case information: Colorado UPL Case History since 2000

Photo credits:
1.  Colorado Supreme Court courtroom, Colorado Supreme Court website
2.  Colorado Supreme Court building, Denver, Colorado Supreme Court website

Disclaimer: Laws vary by state and are subject to change.  This article is not legal advice.  For legal advice, contact a licensed, experienced attorney.

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