We Don’t Need No Education: Local “Legal Counselor” Sues Supreme Court

 

There’s a woman in Florida who doesn’t really feel like going to college, maintaining a GPA of 3.7 or higher in order to apply for an internship, completing 900 hours of supervised practice, sitting for a registration exam, and then attaining continuing education on an annual basis for the rest of her career and adhering to a strict code of ethics:  Health coach claims Florida licensing laws violate First Amendment

What’s next? Something like this, I assume:

An area woman who describes herself as a “legal counselor” has filed a federal lawsuit claiming the Supreme Court of State is violating her First Amendment rights by requiring her to obtain a license to practice law.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of resident Carol Crap, names the State’s Chief Justice, in his official capacity, as the defendant. In a press release, the public interest law firm representing Crap wrote, “Individualized advice on what people should do to plan a peaceful divorce, establish a trust, or have a favorable outcome in the courtroom is surely as old as language, and such speech does not lose its constitutional protection merely because it is compensated.”

According to the complaint, Crap became a privately certified legal counselor through an online school called the Institute for Integrative Law. She started a business called “Constitution Law” and would talk to clients about their legal objectives to help them set realistic and attainable goals.

Crap also offered a $2,000 three-month financial planning program, which included coaching sessions, email support, fillable legal document templates, a monthly newsletter, and tip sheets regarding a variety of legal and financial topics.

The firm representing Crap argues that legal advice is widely available through books, television, and the Internet, and these formats do not require any type of license. Crap herself states that she has watched many episodes of Law and Order and Judge Judy; read books including The Tools of Argument: How the Best Lawyers Think, Argue, and Win by Joel Trachtman and Law 101: Everything You Need to Know About American Law by Jay Feinman; and has known a lot of people who got divorced. She also inherited money once when she was in her 20s.

To become an attorney in State, you have to first attain an undergraduate degree and then graduate from an American Bar Association-accredited law school and pass the bar exam. Crap says, “This is going to cost a lot of money and it sounds really hard. I don’t want to do it.” Further, Crap contends that she, “shouldn’t need the government’s permission to give advice to other adults about how to write a will, deed their land to a family member, or file for divorce.” According to State’s unauthorized practice of law statute:

“It shall be unlawful for any natural person to practice or appear as an attorney-at-law or as an attorney and counselor-at-law for a person other than himself or herself in a court of record in this state, or to furnish attorneys or counsel or an attorney and counsel to render legal services, or to hold himself or herself out to the public as being entitled to practice law as aforesaid, or in any other manner, or to assume to be an attorney or counselor-at-law, or to assume, use, or advertise the title of lawyer, or attorney and counselor-at-law, or attorney-at-law or counselor-at-law, or attorney, or counselor, or attorney and counselor, or equivalent terms in any language, in such manner as to convey the impression that he or she is a legal practitioner of law or in any manner to advertise that he or she either alone or together with any other persons or person has, owns, conducts or maintains a law office or law and collection office, or office of any kind for the practice of law, without having first been duly and regularly licensed and admitted to practice law in the courts of record of this state, and without having taken the constitutional oath.”

 Crap is seeking a judgment declaring the state regulations unconstitutional to the extent they prohibit people from giving individualized advice about law and financial planning. She is also seeking attorneys’ fees and other relief deemed appropriate by the court.

 

 

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