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legal advice and the independent paralegal

   Consumer protection is the reason usually advanced by the legal profession to justify handing it the exclusive right to give legal advice.  According to this view, poor legal advice can cause such serious harm that a license should be required of those who provide it.  Numerous studies of this issue, however, have shown that his fear is unwarranted.  No study has produced concrete evidence that legal advice from non lawyers causes more harm than that sold by licensed lawyers.
   When you think about it, denying consumers who can't afford a lawyer the right to purchase legal advice from more affordable sources is a ridiculous way to protect them.  The argument put forth by lawyers' groups seems to be that it is better for most consumers to have no legal advice than for some to receive advice that may be wrong.  Interestingly, this argument is raised by lawyers, almost never by consumers, and lawyers persist in making it even though there have been very few complaints about existing non lawyer legal form preparation businesses.
   With the accounting profession, you may call yourself a Certified Public Accountant if you meet the state's qualifications; otherwise you are free to give tax preparation, bookkeeping or accounting advice as long as you don't use the CPA label.  Consumers are free to choose a CPA, and pay a higher rate for the expertise the label carries with it, or consult someone without a CPA credential who probably charges less.
   But what happens if a non lawyer provides poor services or gives bad advice?  If a customer loses money because of wrong legal advice given by a non lawyer, the complaint could and should be addressed under the same consumer protection rules that are applied to other similar businesses.  Dissatisfied customers could sue in small claims or regular court for damages, or ask local prosecutors-or a more specialized regulatory agency if one becomes appropriate-to shut down businesses that make a practice of dispensing shoddy legal advice.  Incidentally, this is exactly what happens if you are wronged by a lawyer.
Excerpts from The Independent Paralegal's Handbook-The Law