Janis is a factory worker employed by a paper manufacturing company. She is having financial difficulties and wants to know more about bankruptcy. She noticed an ad in the newspaper placed by J. R. Elms & Associates, a local independent paralegal service that advertised that they specialized in bankruptcy. Janis called for more information, and Joe Elms came to her house for an interview.
Joe told Janis that J. R. Elms was a legal typing service. He explained that he was not an attorney and could not give her legal advice. He gave her a questionnaire to complete to list her assets and liabilities and creditors’ names and addresses. Janis had only a few creditors. She owed her home mortgage and a couple of credit card companies. Her credit card debt totaled $15,000. Janis asked Joe a number of questions pertaining to the consequences of bankruptcy. He said, “Bankruptcy no longer has a stigma attached to it. Everyone is filing bankruptcy now.” She asked him what the difference was between a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Joe told her that she was ineligible to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy (although she was, in fact, eligible) and that a Chapter 13 would cost her more money. She asked Joe whether she would lose her house if she filed for Chapter 7. He said no. She also asked him whether she would be able to keep her income tax refund that she expected to get. He said yes. She told Joe that she was expecting to receive some money from her grandmother as an inheritance and asked whether she would have to report it. Joe responded, “No, don’t worry about it. I’ll handle everything for you.” She paid Joe the total fee for the bankruptcy. He assured her that he would handle everything and asked her to sign an agreement and guarantee that read:
I, the undersigned, hereby authorize J. R. Elms & Associates, a legal scrivener service, to transcribe the information submitted herewith, in order for them to complete the proper legal forms for me to file bankruptcy. I consider myself competent to represent myself in court and do not expect J. R. Elms & Associates to give me any legal advice or represent me in court or in any manner whatsoever.
a. Did Joe engage in the unauthorized practice of law? How?
b. Did Joe give Janis legal advice? When?
c. How would Joe’s activities not be construed as unauthorized practice of law?

  • CreatedFebruary 12, 2015
  • Files Included
Post your question