Notario or No Notario

Today Linkedin news roundup for KNOW: The Magazine for Paralegals has this announcement from Nicole Turturro, RP: 

Legislation is on a fast track in the State of New Jersey Assembly would increase the level of criminality of practicing law without a license in New Jersey and create a civil cause of action for victimized clients. The bill, A-1050, backed by the State Bar Association and with no vocal opponents, would upgrade the unauthorized practice of law to a third-degree crime, punishable by a prison term of between three and five years and a $15,000 fine.

The Assembly Judiciary Committee voted 6-0 on March 8th to recommend passage of the bill, aimed largely at notaries public that offer legal services to Hispanic immigrants. In some Latin American and Caribbean countries, the term “notario” or “notario publico” signifies an attorney.

The civil-action provision would allow a court to award damages in an amount of $1,000 or three times the value of all costs incurred by the victim as a result of the criminal activity, whichever is greater, along with counsel fees and costs.

While the law may be designed to deal with the notario problem, Nicole correctly brings it to our attention because of its implications for “independent” paralegals and for paralegals who are attorney supervised but cross the UPL line. I have not checked out the pending legislation, but I suspect it does not excempt any paralegals if they do cross that line.

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