The Good Notario: Exploring Limited Licensure for Non-Attorney Immigration Practitioners
37 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2019
Date Written: September 1, 2018
This Article introduces the novel idea that “notarios,” widely perceived as lying in wait to take advantage of innocents, can actually play a major role in access to justice for immigrants. Many immigrants file applications with the help of non-attorney immigration professionals, who are often referred to as “notarios” (the Spanish word for “notaries”). By examining the dual problems of unmet need for high-quality legal representation for immigrants, on the one hand, and unauthorized practice of law (UPL) by non-attorney immigration professionals that leads to consumer fraud, on the other, this Article explores the potential of limited licensure for non-attorney professionals to provide needed services in the immigration law context. In many areas of law, the practice of law by non-attorneys is allowed and even encouraged, with oversight. Although various jurisdictions have proposed solutions to combat either the problem of unmet need for representation or the problem of consumer protection, none have targeted both. This Article proposes a solution that could safely and significantly close the justice gap for immigrants in the United States on a more effective scale: to harness an existing resource—the notarios—and call for the accreditation of these notarios through more robust regulation by the Department of Justice.
Keywords: immigrants, citizens, immigration, notarios, notaries, non-attorneys, unauthorized practice of law, UPL, justice gap, access to justice, licensure, BIA, accredited representatives
JEL Classification: K37, K23, K40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation