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July 29, 2003

DOJ & FTC Support Non-lawyers Doing Real Estate Closings in Georgia

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 5:42 pm


The two federal antitrust agencies filed a joint amicus brief today asking the Georgia Supreme Court to reject an advisory ethics opinion, which declares that non-lawyers who perform real estate closing are engaged in the Unauthorized Practice of Law. The Advisory Opinion was issued by the State Bar of Georgia UPL Standing Committee.   Click here for the text of the brief.  The case is captioned On Review of UPL Advisory Opinion No. 2003-2, Case No. S03U1451 (Ga. S. Ct.).


Georgia State Bar UPL Advisory Opinion 2003-2 (April 22, 2003) concludes:



[S]ubject to any relevant exceptions set out by the Georgia legislature or courts, one who facilitates the execution of a deed of conveyance on behalf of another within the state of Georgia is engaged in the practice of law. One does not become licensed to practice law simply by procuring a notary seal. A Georgia lawyer who conducts a witness only closing does not, of course, engage in the unlicensed practice of law. There may well exist, however, professional liability or disciplinary concerns that fall outside the scope of this opinion.


Refinance closings, second mortgages, home equity loans, construction loans and other secured real estate loan transactions may differ in certain particulars from purchase transactions. Nevertheless, the centerpiece of these transactions is the conveyance of real property. Such transactions are, therefore, subject to the same analysis as set out above.


The two agencies had submitted extensive comments to the State Bar’s ULP Committee on March 20, 2003, requesting that the Committee either declare such conduct not to be the practice of law or decline to issue an opinion. The Letter and the amicus Brief argue that preventing non-lawyers from conducting real estate closings would likely increase costs and decrease convenience for consumers, while restricting e-commerce, despite a lack of evidence of consumer injury from the practice. They caution against using unnecessary ULP restrictions to prevent competition from non-lawyers. The definition of the practice of law must take into account the public interest, the agencies assert, as determined by a balancing of potential consumer benefits and harms.

3 Comments

  1. After reading the State Bar Of Georgia opinion and explanation for the opinion (which I oppose) and the DOJ and FTC brief it is evident to me that the State Bar of Georgia has no interest in protecting the integrity of conveyances, but of protecting their monopoly in the execution of those conveyances.

    Comment by Mickey Patterson — August 1, 2003 @ 12:14 pm

  2. After reading the State Bar Of Georgia opinion and explanation for the opinion (which I oppose) and the DOJ and FTC brief it is evident to me that the State Bar of Georgia has no interest in protecting the integrity of conveyances, but of protecting their monopoly in the execution of those conveyances.

    Comment by Mickey Patterson — August 1, 2003 @ 12:14 pm

  3. Although its an old article, I found it interesting to read
    ————————thanks

    Comment by Ismail Shihadi — May 20, 2008 @ 4:27 pm

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