"Notarios" and "Legal Consultants" -- Unauthorized Practice of Law in Texas
By: Daniella Lyttle
Many noncitizens who would otherwise qualify for immigration benefits discover they will never be successful because an immigration “consultant" or “notario" destroyed their dreams. This article is written so that this never happens to you or your family.
In other countries, such as Mexico, a “Notario Publico" is a legal professional with the title of a lawyer who is required to have a good reputation, no criminal record, and passed a written exam. In Texas, a “Notario Publico," “notary," or “consultant" is NOT a lawyer. In fact, virtually anyone can become a notary public in Texas. The person is not required to have any formal education and is certainly not a lawyer.
In the United States, only a U.S. licensed lawyer or accredited representative is authorized and qualified to assist with your immigration case. Unlike consultants, or “notarios," lawyers (abogados) have completed extensive education and training before being licensed to represent clients. You can verify whether a lawyer is in good standing and licensed to help you by checking on www.texasbar.com. Lawyers are required to maintain high ethical standards and are heavily regulated by the State of Texas.
“Notarios" and “Consultants" are not lawyers and they cannot practice law in the state of Texas. “Notarios" or “consultants" typically promise too much, know too little, and many times charge as much or more than a lawyer. These unlicensed individuals often shatter immigrants’ dreams. They promise easy, quick, and “cheap" results, but often do not know the law. Even if they actually file papers for you, they may do it for you and cause permanent harm. “Notarios" and “Consultants" are little better than scam artists, taking their client’s trust and money and never having to answer for the results.
If you need help with any legal matter, make sure the person you are dealing with is a licensed lawyer in Texas. I am saddened by the devastating stories I hear when immigrants come to see me after the notario or consultant has completely damaged any opportunity the immigrant had to stay in this country and potentially become a citizen. Lawyers know when filing something with immigration can cause you harm, but “notarios" and “consultatants" simply do not know the law and file papers without analyzing your case or asking the right questions. Do not let this happen to you and your family. If you are offered legal services that seem too inexpensive and too good to be true, it probably is.