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President's Message: Ignoring Unlawful Practice Has Not Made it Go Away

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NEVADA LAWYER
EDITORIAL BOARD Michael T. Saunders, Chair Richard D. Williamson, Chair-Elect Erin Barnett, Vice-Chair Patricia D. Cafferata, Immediate Past Chair Gregory R. Shannon Elizabeth Fielder Stephen F. Smith Nancy Harkess Kristen E. Simmons Mark A. Hinueber Scott G. Wasserman Hon. Robert J. Johnston John Zimmerman Laury Macauley Leon Mead BOARD OF GOVERNORS President: Alan Lefebvre, Las Vegas President Elect: Elana Turner Graham, Las Vegas Vice President: Laurence Digesti, Reno Immediate Past President: Frank Flaherty, Carson City Paola Armeni, Las Vegas Ryan Russell, Carson City Elizabeth Brickfield, Las Vegas Bryan Scott, Las Vegas Julie Cavanaugh-Bill, Elko Richard Scotti, Las Vegas Richard Dreitzer, Las Vegas Ex Officio Eric Dobberstein, Las Vegas Dean Daniel Hamilton, Vernon (Gene) Leverty, Reno UNLV Boyd School of Law Paul Matteoni, Reno Richard Trachok, Chair Ann Morgan, Reno Board of Bar Examiners Richard Pocker, Las Vegas STATE BAR STAFF Executive Director: Kimberly K. Farmer Bar Counsel: David A. Clark Director of Finance & Information Systems: Marc Mersol Director of Admissions: Laura Meyers Gould Program Director: Lisa Dreitzer Asst. Director of CLE: Stephanie Hirsch NEVADA LAWYER STAFF Publications Manager: Jennifer Smith (jennifers@nvbar.org) Nevada Lawyer Coordinator: Melinda Catren (melindac@nvbar.org) Publications Specialist: Christina Alberts (christinaa@nvbar.org) GRAPHIC DESIGN Georgina Corbalan
Message from the President
By Alan J. Lefebvre, Esq., President, State Bar of Nevada
IGNORING UNLAWFUL PRACTICE HAS NOT MADE IT GO AWAY
“Attempts at regulation will be made again, in the coming months, as the state bar’s budget is retooled and the resources made available to file civil injunction proceedings.”
Unlawful law practice continues to accelerate out of control and it is time to act — with the best tool we have as a bar: the litigation talent and expertise of the bar’s membership. Let’s start putting it to work. The Nevada Supreme Court has defined unlawful practice for us in clear language: [T]he practice of law is implicated whenever a person is faced with a legal issue that cannot be handled by resort to routine forms or customs, and when the person makes the decision not to rely on his or her own judgment but to obtain assistance from someone else, a stranger to the situation. In re Lerner, 124 Nev. 1232, 1238, 197 P.3d 1067, 1072 (2008). [T]his “someone else” must be qualified to render the assistance. Id. As noted in last month’s column, unlawful practice abounds in our courts, right under our noses; it pervades family law practice. Immigration mills, staffed by notarios who are anything but the real thing from south of the border, make saps out of immigrants and separate them from their hard-earned cash. Yet, we still do nothing as an organized bar. When Congress or the president acts on pending immigration changes, money will flow and the damage will hemorrhage; it is not as though legal aid providers do not have enough to do right now without having to bandage the wounds inflicted by rogue “notaries.” Every day, all five major pro bono providers, north and south, deal with the collateral damage left by exploiters of every stripe. Imagine being vulnerable, disclosing your secrets to someone you’ve turned to in confidence, giving them your money and then hearing them tell you that if you complain, “the authorities might come to the address you, my new friend, just gave me.” This scenario plays out every day.
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Nevada Lawyer
November 2013
The state bar itself has only civil standing to seek an injunction and complementary relief: NRS  7.285   Unlawful practice of law; criminal penalties; initiation of civil action by State Bar of Nevada.
1. A person shall not practice law in this state if the person:
(a) Is not an active member of the State Bar of Nevada or otherwise authorized to practice law in this state pursuant to the rules of the Supreme Court; or (b) Is suspended or has been disbarred from membership in the State Bar of Nevada pursuant to the rules of the Supreme Court.
2. A person who violates any provision of subsection 1 is guilty of:
(a) For a first offense within the immediately preceding 7 years, a misdemeanor. (b) For a second offense within the immediately preceding 7 years, a gross misdemeanor. (c) For a third and any subsequent offense within the immediately preceding 7 years, a category E felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130.
3. The State Bar of Nevada may bring a civil action to secure an injunction and any other appropriate relief against a person who violates this section.
Historically, through its disciplinary office, the bar has sparingly exercised its civil jurisdiction. Regulation in this manner is akin to mole whacking, as “they” disappear down one hole and pop up in an adjacent one. Attempts at regulation will be made again, in the coming months, as the state bar’s budget is retooled and the resources made available to file civil injunction proceedings. The District Attorney’s involvement has been called on successfully to prosecute, but victims’ reluctance to expose themselves to law enforcement is problematic at best — translated: nobody who lacks a green card, and should have one, will sign the complaint form. The power of Assemblywoman Flores’ AB 74 (Regulation of Document Preparation Services) will be molded by the regulations Secretary of State Ross Miller is now promulgating. The legislation may become a powerful tool to combat this ill. The power of enforcement should remain with the state bar; if the bar is silent, it will become more irrelevant as the abuse and degradation of our honored profession continues.
Questions? Comments?
Nevada Lawyer welcomes feedback from our readers! Contact us at nvlawyer@nvbar.org.
November 2013 Nevada Lawyer 5

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