Bill to remove sunset date from law prohibiting nonlawyers from practicing law on hold

A Senate committee held a bill Tuesday that would remove the sunset date from a statute that prohibits the practice of law without a license. In effect, the prohibition would stand unless legislation was passed to require a regular review.
SB141, which was recommended by the Legislative Management Committee, was put on hold amid concerns raised by Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, that two-thirds of Utahns don’t have access to legal representation.
“The reason they don’t have access is this statute,” Urquhart said, explaining that the law should have periodic review.
The prohibition means nonlawyers are prohibited from giving legal advice, which would be preferable to people representing themselves in court, he said.
“What this does is make the price of legal services beyond the reach of the average Utahn,” he said.
If someone who is not represented in court ends up facing a “highly skilled, highly trained mercenary, you’re going to lose your rights,” said Urquhart, who is an attorney.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, was unable to attend the meeting Tuesday.
Sen. Ben McAdams, D-Salt Lake, a member of the Legislative Management Committee, presented the bill at the committee chairman’s request.
The statute, he said, helps to ensure that the attorneys that serve the public are competent and certified. “I think there’s noble justification for the certification requirement for attorneys,” said McAdams, who is also an attorney.
The Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Standing Committee agreed to move on to the next item on the agenda.

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