Friday, June 27, 2014, 1:57 PM

HB 663 - Legal Zoom tries to get a safe toehold in NC

Shout out to Womble's Scott Schaff for highlighting this bill this week:
Amending the Practice of Law
On Thursday the Senate Judiciary I committee approved a bill that amends Chapter 84-2.1 regarding the practive of law. Chairman Goolsby proposed the new language which creates a safe haven for Legal Zoom and like companies by removing what they do from the definition of the "practice of law".  

What happened and how:  In 2013, House Bill 663 - Commodities Producer Protection - was introduced, passed the House and was referred to the Senate Judiciary I Committee. Until today its last action was May 20, 2013. Today the contents of the bill were stripped out and replaced with the language Scott shared below in what is called a “Proposed Committee Substitute”. The committee room was jammed and there was strong audience opposition to the bill exactly along the lines Scott reports.  As of tonight, the new Legal Zoom version of the bill has not been "reported out of the committee" - which means the new version of the bill is not yet official and cannot be located on the General Assembly’s website. It also means the bill does not appear on the Senate’s calendar for Monday night.  However, both of these things can happen next Monday evening if the Senate Leadership wants it.

What is the bill now:  The new bill was summarized as: “The PCS completely rewrites the bill and would exempt from the statutory definition of “practice law” certain self-help legal written materials bearing a disclaimer that they are not a substitute for the advice of an attorney."

What will happen next:  We predict we have a week or so left in this session, and things (and people) are getting a bit unpredictable and illogical so we checked in with some of the lawyers who serve in the House Leadership.  At this point we haven't found a single one who expects they will concur with the Senate changes to the bill. Without the House concurrence the bill cannot be enacted.  The season of legislative hostage-taking is upon us so this may become trade bait and thus is still a danger. We will keep an eye on it for you.



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