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Rules of Professional Conduct

Rule 5.5: Unauthorized Practice

A lawyer shall not:

   (a) Practice law in a jurisdiction where doing so violates the regulation of the legal profession in that jurisdiction; or
   (b) Assist a person who is not a member of the bar in the performance of activity that constitutes the unauthorized practice of law.


   [1] This rule concerns the unauthorized practice of law by District of Columbia Bar members in other jurisdictions and assistance by District of Columbia Bar members in the unauthorized practice of law by lawyers not admitted in this jurisdiction or by non-lawyers. The provisions concerning the unauthorized practice of law in the District of Columbia, including those activities in which a lawyer not admitted in the District of Columbia may and may not engage, are set forth in Rule 49 of the Rules of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

   [2] The definition of the practice of law is established by law and varies from one jurisdiction to another. Whatever the definition, limiting the practice of law to members of the bar protects the public against rendition of legal services by unqualified persons. Paragraph (b) does not prohibit a lawyer from employing the services of paraprofessionals and delegating functions to them, so long as the lawyer supervises the delegated work and retains responsibility for their work. See Rule 5.3. Likewise, it does not prohibit lawyers from providing professional advice and instruction to nonlawyers whose employment requires knowledge of law; for example, claims adjusters, employees of financial or commercial institutions, social workers, accountants and persons employed in government agencies. In addition, a lawyer may counsel nonlawyers who wish to proceed pro se.