If you are not aware of how Unauthorized Practice of Law (UPL) is defined in your state, you may unknowingly commit a violation during the deed preparation process. For the most part, UPL violations go unnoticed. However, if there are red flags on a client’s transaction, the individual who prepared the deed may be sued and vulnerable to a spectrum of civil and/or criminal legal penalties and sanctions.
A UPL Violation Example
A Missouri woman sued her mortgage lender, claiming that he had engaged in unauthorized practice of law when she refinanced her home. The lender had prepared multiple documents related to the loan. Because Missouri courts do not consider mortgage-related disclosures or loan application documents to be “conventional legal documents,” the lender was not penalized. This may not have been the same outcome in other states that have different legal definitions.
State-by-State Definitions of UPL Violations
According to the 2015 Survey of Unauthorized Practice of Law Committees, published by the Standing Committee on Client Protection of the American Bar Association, UPL definitions are found in:
- Statutes in 14 states
- Court rulings in 13 states
- A combination of case laws, statutes, and advisory opinions in all other jurisdictions
UPL Enforcement and Penalties/Sanction
In addition to varying sources of law for UPL, the penalties and sanctions for a violation differ across jurisdictions. According to the ABA, there are:
- Civil injunctions in 35 states
- Criminal fines in 23 states
- Prison sentence in 21 states
- Civil contempt in 20 states
- Restitution in 15 states
- Civil fines in 15 states
It’s important to stay up-to-date and informed regarding UPL violation penalties as they are subject to change. Over time, authorities across various jurisdictions may adopt additional rules, amend current rules, expanding penalties, reassess enforcement strategies, and issue advisory opinions.
Deed Preparation and UPL Compliance with uDEED
The experts at uDEED are well versed in state UPL guidelines. We guarantee 100% compliance with the law and that your deeds will be prepared immaculately. To begin placing online orders, please contact us at (866)-486-5500 or email our document team at email@example.com.