Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ask a Librarian

Working on a research paper or a pesky LP assignment? Trying to find that really strange citation for your law review cite & source assignment. Our Reference staff is available to help you with your legal research questions! Come see us at the Reference Desk on the 3rd floor (see hours), call 303-871-6206 or contact us via email.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Student "Lawyers"

As a rule, only lawyers licensed in Colorado may practice law in this state. To obtain a license, you must either waive in as an attorney licensed in a reciprocal state or graduate from an ABA accredited law school, pass the Colorado Bar Examination, and be determined to be of fit character by the Colorado State Board of Law Examiners.

A law student may practice law or give legal advice under the applicable Colorado court rules and statutes, however, under the supervision of a licensed attorney. C.R.S. 12-5-116 provides that students at a law school that maintains a legal-aid dispensary (student clinic) serving poor or legally under served persons may give legal advice and appear in court or before an arbitration panel. Some federal courts such as the United States Bankruptcy Court also provide for student representation.

The Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure (C.R.C.P.) Rules 201 et seq. defines the "practice of law" in part as private practice or employment as a lawyer who furnishes legal counsel, drafts documents and pleadings, interprets and gives advice with respect to the law, and/or preparing, trying or presenting cases before courts, executive departments, administrative bureaus or agencies.

Rules regarding the unauthorized practice of law are in C.R.C.P. Rule 228 et seq. The Colorado Supreme Court has the authority to create rules of procedure for all Colorado attorneys and state courts. This is done through an appointed committee known as the Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee of the Supreme Court. Investigations are handled by the Regulation Counsel appointed by the Supreme Court. See C.R.S. 12-5-112 to 12-5-116 as well as Colorado case law. Clearly, an unlicensed person who pretends to be an attorney or represents another person in court is guilty of contempt.

Other areas which may not be so clear include work done or information provided by paralegals, law clerks, students, or other lay persons. It is essential that a lawyer supervise all work done by an unlicensed person, being careful to review legal documents and communications with clients. The Appendix to Chapters 18-20 of the C.R.C.P. outlines the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct.

Students - Be careful about the legal information you give out before you are admitted to practice, because people will ask you for legal advice without even realizing it!