The Unlicensed Practice of Law

notarizing a documentThe Unlicensed Practice of Law

Although you would not think so, there is a very fine line between notarizing a document and the unlicensed practice of law. The law authorizes a notary to verify that the person who is signing a document is who they say they are. By checking proper identification and certifying it by stamping the document or including their notary commission number. This does not authorize a notary to help the signer fill out a document. Or to download a document or educate them on the legal effects of that document. Still, it happens all too often. These scenarios are especially common in South Florida where there is a great deal of Spanish speakers. A notary or nonlawyer may think they are doing someone a favor by helping them fill out a form, but they are technically engaging in the unlicensed practice of law, a punishable offense.

There is a department of the Florida bar for the sole purpose of investigating it. The department opens investigations based on complaints received by regular people. A nonlawyer may sell a form and may also type that form. However they cannot help the individual complete that form in any way. Technically there should be no communication regarding the information in the form or how it should be completed.

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Legal services from a licensed attorney will likely cost more. However you are paying for the assurance that documents are prepared properly and will have the legal effect you need.