What is the Unauthorized Practice of Law?

What constitutes the Unauthorized Practice of Law (UPL) is governed by state statute:

ยง 73-3-55. Unlawful to practice law without license; certain abstract companies may certify titles

It shall be unlawful for any person to engage in the practice of law in this state who has not been licensed according to law. Any person violating the provisions of this section shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction, shall be punished in accordance with the provisions of Section 97-23-43. Any person who shall for fee or reward or promise, directly or indirectly, write or dictate any paper or instrument of writing, to be filed in any cause or proceeding pending, or to be instituted in any court in this state, or give any counsel or advice therein, or who shall write or dictate any bill of sale, deed of conveyance, deed of trust, mortgage, contract, or last will and testament, or shall make or certify to any abstract of title to real estate other than his own or in which he may own an interest, shall be held to be engaged in the practice of law. This section shall not, however, prevent title or abstract of title guaranty companies incorporated under the laws of this state from making abstract or certifying titles to real estate where it acts through some person as agent, authorized under the laws of the State of Mississippi to practice law; nor shall this section prevent any abstract company chartered under the laws of the State of Mississippi with a paid-up capital of Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000.00) or more from making or certifying to abstracts of title to real estate through the president, secretary or other principal officer of such company.

The courts ultimately decide what is the practice of law. See In re Williamson, 838 So. 2d 226 (Miss. 2003 ); Darby v. Miss. State Bd. of Bar Admissions, 185 So. 2d 648 (Miss. 1966).

In addition, Rule 5.5 of the Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct states:

A lawyer shall not:

(a) practice law in a jurisdiction where doing so violates the regulation of the legal professional in that jurisdiction; or

(b) assist a person who is not a member of the bar in the performance of activity that constitutes the unauthorized practice of law.