The Task Force on Unauthorized Practice of Law seeks out, identifies, and remedies injuries to the public and to the integrity of the profession caused by the unauthorized practice of law.
The Task Force on Unauthorized Practice of Law receives, reviews, investigates, and acts on complaints alleging the unauthorized practice of law by individuals or entities not licensed to practice law in the State of Illinois, and assists in educating attorneys, judges, and the public regarding unauthorized practice of law issues. It must be noted that while the Task Force on Unauthorized Practice of Law may conduct preliminary investigations of complaints, it does not act as counsel for complainants or provide them with legal services or advice.
The Task Force on Unauthorized Practice of Law does not accept complaints against attorneys licensed to practice law in Illinois or other jurisdictions. Any complaints against attorneys should be directed to the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, an agency of the Illinois Supreme Court vested with the authority to investigate allegations of attorney misconduct: www.iardc.org.
Download the document ISBA and the Unauthorized Practice of Law – What The Public Needs To Know.
The ISBA has a long history of investigating and, if warranted, bringing civil actions against individuals engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. The ISBA does this as a public service in its own name. The ISBA is not a government agency, but a not-for-profit association of Illinois lawyers. It does not seek monetary relief for individuals or prosecution of those engaged in UPL through criminal statutes. If you believe you have been the victim of UPL or would otherwise like to alert the Task Force to persons engaged in UPL, please complete the Request for Investigation of Unauthorized Practice of Law form.
The Task Force will review the Request and take whatever action it deems is warranted, if any. Typically, the Task Force will communicate with the person alleged to be involved in UPL to determine if in fact UPL is occurring. If a matter cannot be satisfactorily resolved, the Task Force may seek formal legal action. Your Request can be anonymous, but that may hamper any investigation. You will be notified of any action taken by the Task Force.
If you have any questions or would like to submit a complaint, please contact us at:
Illinois State Bar Association
Attention: Task Force on Unauthorized Practice of Law
Illinois Bar Center
424 South Second Street
Springfield, IL 62701-1779
(800) 252-8908 or (217) 525-1760
Fax: (217) 525-9063
In Stone Street Partners, LLC v. The City of Chicago Department of Administrative Hearings, 2014 IL App (1st) 123654, the First District Appellate Court strongly reaffirmed the principle that corporations must be represented by lawyers at administrative hearings. The opinion is significant not only because of its discussion of what constitutes the practice of law, but also because (1) it narrowly interprets the 2012 Supreme Court decision in Downtown Disposal (finding in a 4-3 decision that an administrative review complaint filed by a nonlawyer was not a complete nullity); and (2) calls into question the validity of any statute or rule that grants a nonlawyer the authority to represent a corporation in an administrative hearing as a usurpation of the Supreme Court's authority to administer and regulate the practice of law. Read the opinion here.
In Todd v. Franklin Collection Service, Inc., No. 11-3818 (7th Cir. 2012), the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals took 28 days to conclude that a nonlawyer could not purchase another person's legal claims under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act via an assignment and then proceed to litigate those claims pro se. Citing Illinois law, the Court held that such a business model clearly violated public policy as the nonlawyer was attempting to practice law without a license. The plaintiff's argument that he was merely pursuing pro se claims he now owned was rejected. Read the full opinion here.
Matters identified below are provided as an informational service to the bar and the public, and are based upon publicly available information. Unless filed by the ISBA, inclusion on the list should not be viewed as being endorsed or approved by the ISBA.
Larkin (ARDC) v. Luis E. Rodriguez, No 13-CH-246 (Lake County). In this Agreed Final Judgment Order, the defendant was held in indirect criminal contempt of court and enjoined from further improper behavior for engaging in UPL by holding himself out as a lawyer, attending court, and negotiating a settlement on behalf of another. Read the Agreed Final Judgment Order here.
People v. Contractor’s Lien Service, Inc. et al., No 08-CH-46900 (Cook County). In this Agreed Order and Final Consent Judgment, the defendant was permanently enjoined from preparing or providing legal advice concerning mechanics liens. Read the Order and Final Consent Judgment here.
Administrator (ARDC) v. Marc E. Levine, No 13-MCL-600178 (Cook County). In this Agreed Order, disbarred lawyer Marc Levine was found to be in indirect criminal contempt by engaging in UPL after his 2007 disbarment. Read the Order here.
Administrator (ARDC) v. Cedric Dupree, No. 12MCL-600161 (Cook County). In this four count Complaint, the ARDC alleges that defendant represented himself as an attorney to various individuals seeking legal advice, provided those individuals legal advice, and accepted money to handle various legal matters. Read the Complaint here.
Administrator (ARDC) v. Melanie Biscardi and Home Advocate Trustees, LLC, No. 12CC21 (Cook County). In this two count Complaint, the ARDC alleges that defendant Biscardi provided legal advice and services to two individuals in separate foreclosure actions and purported to represent those individuals in court filings. Read the Complaint here.
ISBA v. Larry Shelton, et al., No. 10-CH-1661 (20th Cir., St. Clair County). In this seven count Complaint filed by the ISBA, it is alleged that the defendants engaged in the unauthorized practice of law by preparing court pleadings on behalf of others, attempting to negotiate a foreclosure dispute on behalf of debtors, and entering into a contract to represent and employee in an administrative proceeding before the Illinois Department of Employment Security as well as drafting and filing pleadings in that matter. Read the Complaint here.
Effective December 7, 2012, the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission is authorized to prosecute UPL. www.iardc.org.
Often times, the unauthorized practice of law can violate the Consumer Fraud Act. The Illinois Attorney General prosecutes those claims. www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov.
Immigration related UPL, particularly the activities of notario publico's, is often investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (as well as the Illinois Attorney General's Office). For information about immigration related UPL click: www.uscis.gov/avoidscams or www.ftc.gov/immigration.