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Small claims form

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STEPHAN

Senior Member
What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? FL

There are a lot of forms for small claims in FL. However one specific form is missing.

I found a lawyer offering his form for $60 on the internet, but we did not use it.

We made our own PDF formula.

If we would offer that to others for $5 or so on the internet, would this be illegal practice of law?

Thanks,

Stephan
 


quincy

Senior Member
What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? FL

There are a lot of forms for small claims in FL. However one specific form is missing.

I found a lawyer offering his form for $60 on the internet, but we did not use it.

We made our own PDF formula.

If we would offer that to others for $5 or so on the internet, would this be illegal practice of law?

Thanks,

Stephan
Non-lawyers in Florida can sell blank forms and they can type up on forms what has been handwritten by another. What non-attorneys cannot do, in Florida or elsewhere, is advise someone on how to fill in these forms.

And, if you are not a lawyer, you cannot create a legal form for use by others.

Florida has an association of legal document preparers. You might want to check out this Association to see what they do.
 
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STEPHAN

Senior Member
Thanks for all your help.

So, if I put the form on a website that I created for myself and I just say that this is how I did it and I don't charge and I make it clear that I can not advise them, I should be fine?
 

quincy

Senior Member
Thanks for all your help.

So, if I put the form on a website that I created for myself and I just say that this is how I did it and I don't charge and I make it clear that I can not advise them, I should be fine?
No. On the contrary, you could find yourself in legal hot water.
 

STEPHAN

Senior Member
Okay. Well that is obviously a field that I don't know much about. At least I was smart enough to ask ;-)


Strange, so I could not document how I do things ??
 

quincy

Senior Member
Okay. Well that is obviously a field that I don't know much about. At least I was smart enough to ask ;-)


Strange, so I could not document how I do things ??
You can document how you do things, but not by offering up a legal form you created as an example.

From the Attorney General's link: "... Application of this reasoning has lead to the determinations of unauthorized practice of law in ... all cases involving the preparation of legal documents by persons not admitted to the Florida Bar."

Cited by the Attorney General was The Florida Bar v. Keehly, 190 So.2d 173 (Fla.1966), and The Florida Bar v. Teitelman, 261 So.2d 140 (Fla. 1972), and The Florida Bar v. American Legal and Business Forms, Inc., 274 So.2d 225 (Fla. 1973).

The forms that are used in Florida are either Supreme Court approved forms or Florida court-specific forms or documents prepared by those admitted to the Florida Bar.
 
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Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
So he can't put up a form and say "here's the form I used with the personal info redacted"?
 

quincy

Senior Member
So he can't put up a form and say "here's the form I used with the personal info redacted"?
Not without risk.

STEPHAN would essentially be offering up as a template his form for others to use in their own legal actions, this whether he explicitly advises others to use his self-created form or not.

Again, the State and State courts have approved certain forms for use and, where the forms don't exist, they should be created by someone admitted to the State Bar.

Let me add this: Anyone can publish "how to's" on anything. I can publish a "How to Make a Bomb," for example, and I cannot control what others do with the information I provided - but should someone make the bomb and blow up a building, I have opened myself up to a legal action, whether the action has merit or not.

You can view the case Rice v. Paladin Press, a suit filed over the publication of the book "HIt Man." The book was connected to murders patterned after the text. Paladin Press pulled the book and wound up settling the case.

In other words, anyone potentially can be held liable for defects in their product or for what they publish.

But technically STEPHAN can publish whatever he wants to publish, whether he makes his form available for sale or not. But it is a risk to make legal documents you created accessible to others if you are not an attorney.

Edit to add: Compensation, as a note, has been determined by Florida Courts to NOT be a factor in the UPL. See the previous Keehly cite.
 
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