Beware the Unauthorized Practice of Law in Cyberspace by Shari Claire Lewis (New York Law Journal)

The explosive growth of the Internet allows people to instantaneously access information about the law and their legal rights from Web sites created by both lawyers and non-lawyers without ever leaving their homes or offices. As a result, issues relating to the unauthorized practice of law by lawyers and laypeople are arising with increasing frequency.Depending on the nature of the Web activities at issue, it could be determined either that an unlicensed layperson is practicing law, or that a licensed lawyer is intentionally or unintentionally practicing law in jurisdictions in which the lawyer is not admitted. Consider the recent decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in In re Reynoso.The case involved Frankfort Digital Services Ltd., a company owned and operated by Henry Ihejirika, a non-lawyer, which did business under a variety of names including Frankfort sold access to Web sites where customers could access browser-based software for preparing bankruptcy petitions and schedules, as well as informational guides promising advice on various aspects of relevant bankruptcy law. Included in the site was the following representation: “Ziinet is an expert system and knows the law. Unlike most bankruptcy programs which are little more than customized word processors the Ziinet engine is an expert system. It knows bankruptcy laws right down to those applicable to the state in which you live.”For the full article see

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