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  1. #1
    Suzette37 is offline Junior Member
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    Paralegal giving legal advice Wisconsin

    Green Bay Wisconsin

    My husbands mother is receiving legal advice from his sister's friend who is or was a paralegal but has not been practicing or associated with an attorney due to being on disability for MS I believe. She is receiving compensation for the legal advice but I believe it is not in the form of a check but rather a trip to Hawaii, cash, gifts etc... I am not familiar with the law practices of a paralegal and have only dealt with attorneys in the past. Can someone tell me or direct me to a site where it shows what a paralegal is allowed to do or not do and if a paralegal needs a license to do so... if so, how can I check to see if her license is valid?

    Thank you!
  2. #2
    tigger22472 is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Suzette37
    Green Bay Wisconsin

    My husbands mother is receiving legal advice from his sister's friend who is or was a paralegal but has not been practicing or associated with an attorney due to being on disability for MS I believe. She is receiving compensation for the legal advice but I believe it is not in the form of a check but rather a trip to Hawaii, cash, gifts etc... I am not familiar with the law practices of a paralegal and have only dealt with attorneys in the past. Can someone tell me or direct me to a site where it shows what a paralegal is allowed to do or not do and if a paralegal needs a license to do so... if so, how can I check to see if her license is valid?

    Thank you!
    First paralegals are not licensed.
    Secondly this paralegal is not within her boundaries, paralegals are not to give legal advice and are only to work under the direct supervision of an attorney.

    To tell you what they can and cannot do would take a day and a half.. but the long and short of it is what I stated above.

    I'm not sure what you plan to gain or get by this but you would have to prove that A. the woman was/has given legal advice, B. that she is being compensated for it, and C. that she does not work for or with an attorney and is in fact doing this on her own.
  3. #3
    Shay-Pari'e is offline Senior Member
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    I'm glad you could make sense of this post. I skipped afer three lines.
  4. #4
    weenor is offline Senior Member
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    Tigg is right paralegals in the State of Wisconsin do not need a license and most are not certified through any testing procedure. With that said a paralegal in Wisconsin may represent another individual in social security and/or workers' compensation proceedings. In workers' compensation the paralegal must obtain permission from the department of labor after attending/conducting three hearings supervised by an attorney/sponsor.

    In all other matters, a paralegal offering legal advice is practicing law without a license and may be subject to fines for doing so.
  5. #5
    racer72 is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by weenor
    In all other matters, a paralegal offering legal advice is practicing law without a license and may be subject to fines for doing so.
    Only if the paralegal passes themself as an attorney.
    If you feel my answer is rude, mean, snarky or in anyway not to your liking, I did my job. You don't need to tell me.

    No private messages, I do not reply to them.
  6. #6
    Suzette37 is offline Junior Member
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    Where does one report a paralegal not working directly under an attorney?

    Please advise where one would report this.

    If you read the only other post I have under wills you would see why I am upset about this.
    Last edited by Suzette37; 01-26-2006 at 08:07 PM.
  7. #7
    weenor is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Suzette37
    Please advise where one would report this.

    If you read the only other post I have under wills you would see why I am upset about this.

    I can see why your upset...but if Grandma is not incompetent she can change her will all she wants. From your post I do not see that the paralegal has done anything wrong. Advising based on experience with out passing one's self off as a lawyer is o.k. What I am talking about for example, is a paralegal in a personal injury firm negotiating with an adjuster to settle a case or a paralegal appearing in court as an attorney. If you really think there may be something there then call the Wisconsin State Bar in Madison and ask for their general counsel/legal department.
  8. #8
    tigger22472 is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by weenor
    I can see why your upset...but if Grandma is not incompetent she can change her will all she wants. From your post I do not see that the paralegal has done anything wrong. Advising based on experience with out passing one's self off as a lawyer is o.k. What I am talking about for example, is a paralegal in a personal injury firm negotiating with an adjuster to settle a case or a paralegal appearing in court as an attorney. If you really think there may be something there then call the Wisconsin State Bar in Madison and ask for their general counsel/legal department.
    Technically any paralegal, giving ANY legal advice that pertains to the issue at hand with a person, draws up any paperwork without the direct supervision of an attorney, and being compensated for such is doing so illegal and is 'guilty' of unauthorized practice of law. The issue of if she is presenting herself as an attorney or not is technically moot. Yes it's illegal for her not to express her title but with the other stuff she's already practicing UPL.

    Again I stand by my previous answer as to what would have to be proved to get anywhere on it.

    I do agree that grandma, as long as she's competent, can change her will at her whim... but the issue of the paralegal is troublesome. The OP needs to speak to an attorney and see what they could prove.
  9. #9
    Suzette37 is offline Junior Member
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    What is OP?

    Thank you all for your answers.

    Tigger - what is an OP?
  10. #10
    Dandy Don is offline Senior Member
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    Any complaints are going to be tempered/negated by the fact that your mother made the choice herself to use a paralegal--the burden is on her to stop using the paralegal and to actually consult a qualified legal professional. But of course she thinks she is saving money by doing so, doesn't she? IF the advice she is receiving is negligent or turns out to be incorrect, it will cost her more to correct the situation or it will cost her beneficiaries.
  11. #11
    HomeGuru is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by weenor
    Tigg is right paralegals in the State of Wisconsin do not need a license and most are not certified through any testing procedure. With that said a paralegal in Wisconsin may represent another individual in social security and/or workers' compensation proceedings. In workers' compensation the paralegal must obtain permission from the department of labor after attending/conducting three hearings supervised by an attorney/sponsor.

    In all other matters, a paralegal offering legal advice is practicing law without a license and may be subject to fines for doing so.

    **A: I agree.
  12. #12
    tigger22472 is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Suzette37
    Thank you all for your answers.

    Tigger - what is an OP?

    OP= original poster.. which in this case is you.
  13. #13
    Suzette37 is offline Junior Member
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    Paralegal advise not kosher?

    Thank you for your comments. I am not sure where to go with this. One thing is for sure. My husband and I believe his mother is making decions based on the paralegal's advise. Some of these decisions would be different had she received the advise from an attorney. My mother-in-law beleives this paralegal is looking out for her best interest because it is her favorite daughter's best friend. Her favorite daughter has her believing that this paralegal can do no wrong. In fact I have been accused of lying to her when I present her with the truth.

    My Mother in law is in her 70's and very healthy although is becomming more and more forgetful.

    My Father-in-law was just made legally incapacited with the help and advice of the paralegal... (This may be legitimate)

    This paralegal is helping her and her daughter make:

    Decisions such as how her rental properties should be set up.

    Decisions on holding up a sale of a property even though she desperately needs to liquidate at least one assest to pay taxes and maintain rental properties.. (Of course the need to liquidate is according to the paralegal who is also advising her on ALL her finances.)

    Decisions on how her trust fund should be set up - joint tenancy so the children of my husband will not recieve an inheritance if my husband dies - but the only other grandchildren would inherit it all.... (The only other grandchidren just happen to be the best friend of this very same paralegal - and is also the executor of the will.) According this Paralegal a trust is almost always set up like this. We checked with our business attorney and he says this is not true. In fact quite the opposite is true.

    From my husband and my own perception ... this looks so much like a scam between his sister and her friend (the paralegal). We feel at a loss to stop the sister because the Mother has always favored this daughter. The sister controls her mother and does not consult with her brother on anything... Of course her Mom can do this as she has free will. There is one other sister but has no children so doesn't really care much about what is happening as long as she is named in the trust fund nothing else seems to matter to her.

    While we feel that we cannot stop the sister, we feel there has to be a way to STOP this paralegal from ill advising my mother-in-law...

    Please advise which would be the best course. I do not want to see my mother-in-law get into legal trouble for paying this woman cash, paying her way to Hawaii... paying living expenses for the two month period she is there "helping to get the finances in order" per Mother-in-law.

    1) We go to an attorney... And do what ... prove what?

    2) Turn her into some paralegal tattletale site... who what where and prove what? (the only thing we can prove is that she sat down at the table with the family and told us that trust funds are usually set up in the she helped the Mom set up the trust fund.)

    3) She is collecting disability - but what can we prove? We can't prove cash given... we can't prove that Mom and the sister paid her way to Hawaii so she could go over the finances and make more earning that she will not be disclosing to the state. It can be proven she didn't pay her own way there. but that is about it. It can be proven that she has been conferring with the Mother-in-law's attorney acting as a go between for a sale of property. She has brought papers to the attorney to sign ... etc. I called the attorney's office and asked if the paralegal was employed by the attorney or ever had been employed by the attorney... the answer was "NO". So the only thing that could be proven is that she did indeed have contact with the attorney.

    4) Not a dang thing we can do about it - even if it appears not quite kosher????

    5) It is legal to do what she is doing - so we should just beleive that she is looking out for the best interest of my mother-in-law?


    The mind set of Mother-in-law and sister-in-law is very protective of the paralegal. It is to the point that my husband does not want to talk to his mother again. Because his Dad is still alive and has some very lucent days, he would like to spend time with Dad.

    There is more to it.. but it has more to do with purposefully trying to liquidate the only property that has any major sentimental value to my husband (and was promised to my husband by his father) before trying to liquidate any of the other assests. Form his stand point the favorite sister is being very vindictive to him. She did not tell him they were trying to do this... only found out from a relative to whom the sale of the property offered.

    From my stand point - I find this whole thing appalling... But am at the point where I want nothing to do with this family and unfortunately my husband is caught between my feelings and his own feelings of how can his Mom and sisters treat him in such a manner. Feelings which are currently on a MAJOR roller coaster.

    I would appreciate any advise we can get... and if there is nothing we can do - I would disagree... We can bring our own children up fairly and equally. I have three favorite sons and one favorite daughter.
  14. #14
    weenor is offline Senior Member
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    OP I refer you to [url]http://www.wisbar.org[/url]
    there is entire section discussing the roll of paralegals which apparently has changed from when I was a paralegal in Wisconsin in 1993.
  15. #15
    HomeGuru is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Suzette37
    Thank you for your comments. I am not sure where to go with this. One thing is for sure. My husband and I believe his mother is making decions based on the paralegal's advise. Some of these decisions would be different had she received the advise from an attorney. My mother-in-law beleives this paralegal is looking out for her best interest because it is her favorite daughter's best friend. Her favorite daughter has her believing that this paralegal can do no wrong. In fact I have been accused of lying to her when I present her with the truth.

    My Mother in law is in her 70's and very healthy although is becomming more and more forgetful.

    My Father-in-law was just made legally incapacited with the help and advice of the paralegal... (This may be legitimate)

    This paralegal is helping her and her daughter make:

    Decisions such as how her rental properties should be set up.

    Decisions on holding up a sale of a property even though she desperately needs to liquidate at least one assest to pay taxes and maintain rental properties.. (Of course the need to liquidate is according to the paralegal who is also advising her on ALL her finances.)

    Decisions on how her trust fund should be set up - joint tenancy so the children of my husband will not recieve an inheritance if my husband dies - but the only other grandchildren would inherit it all.... (The only other grandchidren just happen to be the best friend of this very same paralegal - and is also the executor of the will.) According this Paralegal a trust is almost always set up like this. We checked with our business attorney and he says this is not true. In fact quite the opposite is true.

    From my husband and my own perception ... this looks so much like a scam between his sister and her friend (the paralegal). We feel at a loss to stop the sister because the Mother has always favored this daughter. The sister controls her mother and does not consult with her brother on anything... Of course her Mom can do this as she has free will. There is one other sister but has no children so doesn't really care much about what is happening as long as she is named in the trust fund nothing else seems to matter to her.

    While we feel that we cannot stop the sister, we feel there has to be a way to STOP this paralegal from ill advising my mother-in-law...

    Please advise which would be the best course. I do not want to see my mother-in-law get into legal trouble for paying this woman cash, paying her way to Hawaii... paying living expenses for the two month period she is there "helping to get the finances in order" per Mother-in-law.

    1) We go to an attorney... And do what ... prove what?

    2) Turn her into some paralegal tattletale site... who what where and prove what? (the only thing we can prove is that she sat down at the table with the family and told us that trust funds are usually set up in the she helped the Mom set up the trust fund.)

    3) She is collecting disability - but what can we prove? We can't prove cash given... we can't prove that Mom and the sister paid her way to Hawaii so she could go over the finances and make more earning that she will not be disclosing to the state. It can be proven she didn't pay her own way there. but that is about it. It can be proven that she has been conferring with the Mother-in-law's attorney acting as a go between for a sale of property. She has brought papers to the attorney to sign ... etc. I called the attorney's office and asked if the paralegal was employed by the attorney or ever had been employed by the attorney... the answer was "NO". So the only thing that could be proven is that she did indeed have contact with the attorney.

    4) Not a dang thing we can do about it - even if it appears not quite kosher????

    5) It is legal to do what she is doing - so we should just beleive that she is looking out for the best interest of my mother-in-law?


    The mind set of Mother-in-law and sister-in-law is very protective of the paralegal. It is to the point that my husband does not want to talk to his mother again. Because his Dad is still alive and has some very lucent days, he would like to spend time with Dad.

    There is more to it.. but it has more to do with purposefully trying to liquidate the only property that has any major sentimental value to my husband (and was promised to my husband by his father) before trying to liquidate any of the other assests. Form his stand point the favorite sister is being very vindictive to him. She did not tell him they were trying to do this... only found out from a relative to whom the sale of the property offered.

    From my stand point - I find this whole thing appalling... But am at the point where I want nothing to do with this family and unfortunately my husband is caught between my feelings and his own feelings of how can his Mom and sisters treat him in such a manner. Feelings which are currently on a MAJOR roller coaster.

    I would appreciate any advise we can get... and if there is nothing we can do - I would disagree... We can bring our own children up fairly and equally. I have three favorite sons and one favorite daughter.

    **A: enough already. This is not a Dr. Phil website.

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