Legal Advice or the Practice of law is hard for the Courts and States to define.
Beyond actual representation of clients in court, defining the practice of law is difficult to explain.
The ABA has not defined what constitutes the practice of law.
The Courts agree that defining the practice of law is difficult, but have provided us some things to consider.
- Is the service commonly understood to be the practice of law? – traditional areas of practice test;
- Does the service require legal skill and knowledge beyond that of an average layperson? – professional judgment test;
- Is the activity frequently performed by laypersons? – incidental legal services test;
- Is the activity characterized by a direct relationship between the attorney and the client?;
- Has the activity harmed to the client.
In Utah State Bar v. Petersen, 937 P.2d 1263 (Utah 1997), the Court stated:
The practice of law, although difficult to define precisely, is generally acknowledged to involve the rendering of services that require the knowledge and application of legal principles to serve the interests of another with his consent. It not only consists of performing services in the courts of justice throughout the various stages in a matter, but in a larger sense involves counseling, advising, and assisting others in connection with their legal rights, duties, and liabilities. It also includes the preparation of contracts and other legal instruments by which legal rights and duties are fixed.
Petersen, 937 P.2d at 1268 (quoting Utah State Bar v. Summerhayes & Hayden, Public Adjusters, 905 P.2d 867, 869-70 (Utah 1995)).