The Lawyerless Company That Claims to Help Foreign Nationals Is Not Allowed to Provide Legal Advice: Here Is Why That Matters

Laws prohibit non-lawyers from providing legal advice to immigrants and others. These rules are sensible; after all, matters of the law are frequently high-stakes affairs, sometimes they are literally life-death or bankruptcy-causing. Many of these matters cannot be re-done if they are done incorrectly the first time.

Sure, there are some narrow exceptions to the rules that non-lawyers may not provide legal advice. However, the companies that offer to handle a family’s or an individual’s immigration case do not believe they fall within the exception. Thus, they generally explain in small print at the bottom of their website that they are not a law firm and they are not permitted to provide legal advice. Why do they openly recognize that they are not permitted to provide legal advice? Because they wish to decrease the likelihood that a state will prosecute them for violating the law that only lawyers should practice the law.

Nonetheless, these companies do provide legal advice. Yes, they do violate the law. And occasionally states do go after them for it. For example, one non-law firm was chased out of Colorado for providing  legal advice. About that company leaving the state, director of Famiy Immigration Services for Catholic Charties of Central Colorado, Carl Pavri, stated, “I’m glad they’re gone. Good riddance …. They can take their pestilence somewhere else, screw up cases and get people deported.” 

But, you might be wondering, how do any of these companies keep going? How do they convince people to trust them considering they don’t have a lawyer and people go to them for legal services? These companies use a number of magician-like tactics: one tactic is that they simply hope you do not notice some things.

For instance, they hope you do not notice that their company has only two choices. The first choice is to not give legal advice to the company’s paying customers; put differently, the first choice is to follow the law. The second choice is to break the law by giving the customers legal advice. These companies choose the second option; put differently, they choose to break the law. They just hope you do not notice that every time they provide legal advice, they are spurning the law. And they really hope you do not notice that they are violating the law in order to make money. These companies, through their actions, say:  “The law is the law, but the dollar is king.”

Is this the attitude of a company you want to represent you? Considering the representation involves keeping you on the right side of the law, you really want this company representing you? Is this a company you can trust? Can you trust their claims of past success? Can you trust that they didn’t just buy the “A” Better Business Bureau rating?  Can you trust that they won’t sell your or your spouse’s or your children’s personal information to someone poised to make a new victim of identity theft?  Many of the companies that engage in unlicensed practice of law bring to mind a few lines from William Shakespeare’s play Henry VI, Part II:

… were’t not madness, then,
To make the fox surveyor of the fold? …

Let us use a differently analogy, starting a relationship with one of these companies–when the relationship’s purpose is to keep you on the right side of the law–seems as sensible as asking a decently-dressed stranger to pick your children up at school. The difference between a law firm and a non-law firm company is not the difference between an apple and an orange, it is the difference between night and triangular.

In future posts, we will go over more differences. For now, we will implore that you think long and hard about trusting your legal matters and private information with a company whose services are predicated on the company itself breaking the law.