Practicing law without a license

Massachusetts Law Updates 2014-11-23

Law librarians are often asked by patrons to give them what amounts to legal help.   There is an important distinction to keep in mind in this regard. Librarians can provide legal information, but not legal advice. Giving legal advice would be practicing law without a license.  Legal advice can only be provided by a lawyer.   Massachusetts General Law chapter 221, section 46A states succinctly:   "No individual, other than a member, in good standing, of the bar of this commonwealth shall practice law, or, by word, sign, letter, advertisement or otherwise, hold himself out as authorized, entitled, competent, qualified or able to practice law; provided, that a member of the bar, in good standing, of any other state may appear, by permission of the court, as attorney or counselor, in any case pending therein, if such other state grants like privileges to members of the bar, in good standing, of this commonwealth." Other laws regarding the unauthorized practice of law may be found in M.G.L. ch. 221, sections 41 and following To find out more about lawyers, please browse the Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries web page "Massachusetts Law About Lawyers."