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HELPING YOUR COMMUNITY WITHOUT ENGAGING IN THE UNAUTHORIZED PRACTICE OF LAW.

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Presentation on theme: "HELPING YOUR COMMUNITY WITHOUT ENGAGING IN THE UNAUTHORIZED PRACTICE OF LAW."— Presentation transcript:

1 HELPING YOUR COMMUNITY WITHOUT ENGAGING IN THE UNAUTHORIZED PRACTICE OF LAW

2 THE PRACTICE OF LAW Courts and legislatures have said that the following activities involve the practice of law: Applying law to facts -- telling someone how the law works in their specific case; Representing others in court proceedings; and Holding oneself out as a “notario” or lawyer.

3 THE PRACTICE OF LAW Who has permission to practice immigration law? Licensed attorneys BIA-accredited representatives Law students at accredited schools and law school graduates (not yet admitted to the bar) under the supervision of licensed attorneys or accredited reps, without remuneration

4 WHAT’S THE WORST THAT CAN HAPPEN IF I ENGAGE IN UPL? You can be sued, fined or sent to jail The people you are trying to help may get deported or face other negative consequences nobody wants

5 WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP PEOPLE GET DACA AND DAPA? It is your right under the First Amendment to inform others of their legal rights “Know Your Rights” presentations are generally protected under the First Amendment’s free speech clause What are some ways you can help? Help someone collect documents Host an info session Translate & interpret Do outreach Organize a clinic Refer people to legal help

6 QUICK RECAP Applying the law to a set of facts is the practice of law. This means telling someone they do or don’t qualify for an immigration benefit is the practice of law. This means telling someone that their application is ready to be submitted is the practice of law. Providing general legal information – not individualized advice – is okay. This means it is okay to say, for example, that the application period for Expanded DACA is supposed to begin around February 20 th. Holding yourself out as a lawyer when you are not one violates laws against the unauthorized practice of law Representing someone in court is the practice of law.

7 HYPOS A community organizer speaks to a group of 30 people about President Obama’s Immigration Action. No lawyer or BIA rep is present. The presentation includes a discussion of The DAPA and DACA eligibility criteria; Evidentiary requirements; The benefits and limits of deferred action; and Other general information. Question: Is this UPL? Why or why not? Answer: No, this is not UPL. Non-lawyers may conduct community information sessions like the one above.

8 HYPOS (CONT.) Now suppose that someone at the presentation says: “I got a DUI. You said people who have DUIs are generally not eligible for DAPA. Can I apply?” UPL “No, you can’t apply.” UPL “Well, it depends. Were you under 18 when it happened? Did it happen a long time ago and did you get it erased (expunged)? If yes, then you might be eligible.” OK “I can’t answer that question because I’m not a lawyer.” Best “I can’t tell someone whether they qualify because I’m not a lawyer, but I want you to get good legal help and an answer to your question. Talk to me after the presentation and I will help you find a lawyer or non-profit near you where you can get legal advice. Also, I am organizing a clinic in X weeks at Y location where a lawyer or BIA rep will be able to help you.”

9 HYPOS (CONT.) At a clinic you are hosting, someone hands you their application and asks you: “Is this enough evidence to get DACA?” UPL “Yes. You have enough. You have at least 50 pages in there.” UPL You look through the applicant’s documents and say, “It looks like you have one document for every three months of your residence. That should be enough.” OK “I can’t answer that question because I’m not a lawyer.” Best “I can’t tell you whether your application is ready to be sent. But I can help organize your application and get it ready for legal review. The lawyer or BIA rep will help you decide what evidence to include with your application.

10 HYPOS (CONT.) At a clinic you are hosting, someone hands you 8 years of phone records and says, “Can I use this to prove I’ve been living here?” What’s the best way to handle this situation? Split up into teams and try to answer. “I can’t tell someone whether they may use certain documents to prove the requirements for DACA or DAPA. What I can do is organize your materials and help prepare your application for legal review. The lawyer or BIA rep will help you decide what evidence to include.” You then flag the lawyer or BIA rep and explain the issue and ask them to advise.

11 DOS AND DON’TS Do refer people to legal clinics and screening tools Do encourage everyone to seek legal help Do provide general legal information from adminrelief.org or other trusted websites Do help people collect evidence to prepare for legal review and flag questions Don’t tell someone they qualify for DACA or DAPA Don’t tell someone whether their application is complete Don’t say you are a legal expert or attorney

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