A New Jersey Unauthorized Practice of Law Statute
N.J.S. 2C:21-22 is a New Jersey criminal statute that prohibits the unauthorized practice of law. That statute says that a person who knowingly engages in the unauthorized practice of law is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree. The statute then goes on to specify three situations where the unauthorized practice of law escalates to a crime of the third degree. The first situation is where the person creates or reinforces a false impression that the person is licensed to engage in the practice of law. The second situation is where the person “derives a benefit.” The final situation is where the activities in fact cause injury to another.
Another New Jersey Unauthorized Practice of Law Statute
A separate statute devotes itself to unauthorized practice of immigration law. That separate statute is N.J.S. 2C:21-31. As with N.J.S. 2C:21-22, violation of N.J.S. 2C:21-31 can be either a third degree or fourth degree crime, depending on the particular circumstances of the case.
What Is Unauthorized Practice of Law?
Determining whether a particular activity constitutes unauthorized practice of law is often difficult. The practice of law encompasses much more than conduct of litigation in the courts. It includes actions for which legal knowledge, training, skill and ability are required. Loosely speaking, advice to clients, and all actions taken for them in matters connected with the law, constitute practice of law. That includes work performed outside of a court. It includes actions having no immediate relation to proceedings in court.
All in the Family
The difficulty is that acts done by lawyers in their day to day practice are often the same acts done by others in the normal course of business, and in daily living. Consider, for example, suggestions and analyses of a situation provided by one family member to another. Those kinds of actions will typically not constitute unauthorized practice of law. (Be aware, however, that advice from one family member to another concerning legal matters is often wrong and, indeed, is sometimes disasterous.)
Criminal Defense Lawyers in New Jersey™
Criminal Defense Lawyers in New Jersey™ have the training and experience to skillfully represent persons charged with unauthorized practice of law. Indeed, Mr. Marain made major contributions to discussions in the Criminal Law Section of the New Jersey Bar Association when that organization was considering its response to proposed Legislative changes to this law. Criminal Defense Lawyers in New Jersey™ are available to meet those individuals in a no-cost no-obligation conference. They encourage persons charged with that crime to call them.