Unauthorized Practice of Law in Arizona: A Legal and Political Problem that Won't Go Away
Arizona State University College of Law
Arizona State Law Journal, Vol. 34, p. 585, 2002
Unauthorized practice of law has prompted legal and political controversy in Arizona for over four decades. That controversy has centered primarily around two events and their aftermath: the Arizona Supreme Court's 1961 decision in State Bar of Arizona v. Arizona Land Title & Trust Co. and the 1985 repeal of the Arizona statute prohibiting the unauthorized practice of law. Since twenty-five years separates these events, they may seem only generally connected. However, the Arizona Supreme Court's recent decision in In re Creasy demonstrates their close interrelationship as well as the legal and political characteristics of the controversy.
In Creasy, the Court faced an issue involving its continuing jurisdiction over a previously disbarred lawyer, who had acted in a private arbitration that was unconnected to any judicial proceeding. Relying on the definition of the practice of law articulated in Arizona Title, the Court held that the disbarred lawyer's activities in the arbitration proceeding constituted the "practice of law" and found the lawyer guilty of contempt for violating his order of disbarment. The Court also asserted that its broad constitutional power over the practice of law "extended to non-lawyers as well as attorneys admitted to bar membership."
This article reviews the history of unauthorized practice of law in Arizona to understand more fully the Creasy opinion and its important implications. The article then analyzes the Court's holding and rationale in Creasy and discusses the interrelated legal and political dimensions relating to the law on unauthorized practice and judicial power.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 29
Keywords: unauthorized practice of law, ethics, professional responsibility
Date posted: June 18, 2009
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