Nonlawyer Practice Before Federal Administrative Agencies Should Be Encouraged
Arizona State University College of Law
Administrative Law Review, Vol 37, p. 363, 1985
The unauthorized practice of law has been of great concern to lawyers since the inception of lawyer licensing. One particular area of major controversy involves the appearance of nonlawyers before administrative agencies.
This long-standing interest in nonlawyer practice before federal administrative agencies has been the subject of numerous studies and articles. Interest in this subject particularly was marked from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. Although nonlawyers had been practicing before federal agencies for many years, the proliferation of administrative bodies and the resulting increase in clients occasioned even greater controversy about the propriety of appearances by nonlawyers in federal proceedings. Many agencies either explicitly permitted practice by nonlawyers or silently acquiesced. Despite intense opposition by many lawyers, appearances by nonlawyers continued. Any discussion of expanding practice by nonlawyers before federal agencies must proceed in the context of these broader and historical dimensions.
Although many agencies now authorize representation by persons other than lawyers, widespread representation by nonlawyers nevertheless seems unlikely. The desirability of expanding nonlawyer representation will be analyzed here by examining the need for public protection and the need for the skills of a lawyer in administrative agency proceedings. As this article discusses, the market should work fairly well in protecting clients from incompetent representatives, thereby substantially undermining the rationale for governmental intervention. In addition, many federal agency proceedings are not as complex as judicial ones, and nonlegal issues are both more prevalent and more important in the agency proceedings.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 11
Keywords: unauthorized practice of law, administrative law, agency proceedings
Date posted: June 22, 2009
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