Sometimes, it is not clear whether you are getting legal advice or business advice. Only attorneys can practice law. The Kentucky Bar Association has published a helpful opinion on what is the unauthorized practice of law. Here are some key points from the opinion (linked here):
Filling In Forms Can Be Done By Non-Attorneys
“The purely ministerial acts of typing forms, filing in blanks on commercially available preprinted forms, or official forms of the courts, would not constitute the practice of law.”
Illustrations of What Cannot Be Done By Non-Attorneys
1. Offering services to the public in such a manner that creates an impression in the public that it may rely upon such entities or businesses to properly prepare legal form documents for them or on their behalf, other than properly typing;
2. Representing to the public that such entities or businesses, or any persons that are either employed by or who act in concert with them, are capable of advising the public as to which forms are needed and how to use them;
3. Completing forms or assisting in the completion of forms that are not official forms approved by the Administrative Office of the Courts of the Supreme Court of Kentucky or the relevant state or federal Court or administrative agencies, if conveying information that would lead a reasonable person to believe that the completed form is legally sufficient for the customer’s purpose;
4. Providing services such as conducting interviews to ascertain and evaluate information necessary to properly complete forms, that go beyond the mere selling of forms, typing of forms, providing written general information or providing secretarial or notary services;
The Kentucky Bar Association opinion states “[p]racticing law is not confined to performing services in actions or proceedings in courts of justice, but includes giving advice and preparing wills, contracts, deeds, mortgages, and other instruments of a legal nature.” Howton v. Morrow, 106 S.W.2d 81, 82 (Ky. 1937). (emphasis added).
An individual can represent himself or herself even in court. However, as a business owner, you cannot represent in court a legal entity such as a limited liability company even if you are the only member. If a business is giving you legal advice on your corporate entity other than an accountant giving tax advice, you cannot rely on that advice. Please contact an attorney to get proper advice.
We assist start-ups in picking a name that you can trademark. Then, we can draft operating agreements or bylaws for your corporate entity customized to your needs. Finally, we draft contracts for all kinds of situations and represent clients in litigation or risk management.
Julie Tennyson is a licensed patent attorney and assists clients in trademark, copyright, trade secret, and business matters including licensing and transfers. Ms. Tennyson is a partner at Marcum Tennyson PLLC.