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What falls under the term, "practicing law?" What's allowable for someone handling their own affairs?

Roswell, GA |

When ignorance in the law is no excuse, and excuses no one, how do you determine what you can and can't do, if you study law and procedure own your own time but can't afford tuition to a law school?

Other than giving legal advices, represent someone for money or appearing for them in court what also falls under practicing law? Is the BAR a private union?

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Attorney answers 4


§ 15-19-51. Unauthorized practice of law forbidden
(a) It shall be unlawful for any person other than a duly licensed attorney at law:
(1) To practice or appear as an attorney at law for any person other than himself in any court of
this state or before any judicial body;
(2) To make it a business to practice as an attorney at law for any person other than himself in
any of such courts;
(3) To hold himself out to the public or otherwise to any person as being entitled to practice law;
(4) To render or furnish legal services or advice;
(5) To furnish attorneys or counsel;
(6) To render legal services of any kind in actions or proceedings of any nature;
(7) To assume or use or advertise the title of "lawyer," "attorney," "attorney at law," or
equivalent terms in any language in such manner as to convey the impression that he is entitled to
practice law or is entitled to furnish legal advice, services, or counsel; or
(8) To advertise that either alone or together with, by, or through any person, whether a duly and
regularly admitted attorney at law or not, he has, owns, conducts, or maintains an office for the
practice of law or for furnishing legal advice, services, or counsel.
(b) Unless otherwise provided by law or by rules promulgated by the Supreme Court, it shall be
unlawful for any corporation, voluntary association, or company to do or perform any of the acts
recited in subsection (a) of this Code section.

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Thanks very much for your answer.


My colleague answered your first question in detail.

As for your second question, the "BAR" for each state is an association of member lawyers licensed to practice law in the same state. It is not a private union. An association of this type would generally be considered a nonprofit entity falling under Section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code.

My answer is not intended to be giving legal advice and this topic can be a complex area where the advice of a licensed attorney in your State should be obtained.


As a general rule, appearing for someone else in a court, tribunal or other government body either in person or by motion/paperwork is considered the practice of law when it is relevant to their rights. If you are advocating your own interests it generally is not.

There are different types of a bar - for example, the State Bar is the self-regulating authority to handle the administration of attorney licensing, education, events and discipline. On the other hand, there are private bar associations that are generally jurisdictional in nature and handle social events as well as the occasional educational aspect. All states are different.

You cannot rely on this response and no attorney-client relationship exists or is implied to exist. You are advised to secure independent legal counsel.


If handling your own affairs, you may represent and research yourself.

NOT LEGAL ADVICE. FOR EDUCATION AND INFORMATION ONLY. Mr. Rafter is licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the US Federal Courts in Virginia. There is no implied or actual attorney-client relationship arising from this education exchange. You should speak with an attorney licensed in your state, to whom you have provided all the facts before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. Mr. Rafter is under no obligation to answer subsequent emails or phone calls related to this matter.

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