Last Modified: Tuesday, June 19, 2012 5:01 PM
Can a paralegal in Texas represent someone in a court proceeding? Do they have the same rights as an attorney, and can they be held accountable in the same way as attorneys?
Texas statutes limit the practice of law to those who have been admitted to the state bar, and the ethics code for Texas paralegals specifically addresses unauthorized legal practice.
“A paralegal shall not engage in the practice of law as defined by statutes or court decisions, including but not limited to accepting cases or clients, setting fees, giving legal advice or appearing in a representative capacity in court or before an administrative or regulatory agency (unless otherwise authorized by statute, court or agency rules); the paralegal shall assist in preventing the unauthorized practice of law,” reads Canon 1 of the code.
“A paralegal shall not perform any of the duties that attorneys only may perform or do things which attorneys themselves may not do,” reads Canon 2.
Complaints about paralegals — or any other non-attorney — practicing law in Texas should be sent to the Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee. To file a complaint, visit the group’s website, www.txuplc.org; to request a complaint form, call 512-427-1341 or email email@example.com.
To complain of similar behavior in Louisiana — whose prohibition mirrors Texas’ — call the state Office of Disciplinary Counsel at 800-326-8022 or contact local authorities.
The penalties for illegally practicing law in Louisiana include a fine of up to $1,000 and two years’ imprisonment.
Sunday’s Informer answered questions about Mediterranean geckos, the little translucent lizards that hang out around outdoor lights.
One reader wanted to know if Mosquito Control spraying could be responsible for the disappearance of geckos at his house. Another wanted to know if geckos could be responsible for the disappearance of roaches at his.
The column prompted another reader, a man who lives in a wooded area in Welsh, to wonder what happened to the geckos that once lived around his home.
“I read your article — very nice — on the geckos. I was wondering what happened to mine,” the man said in a voice mail message. “I’ve always had carpenter ants really, really bad. We even had exterminators come, and they couldn’t get them all out.”
He said that “after the hurricane” — he didn’t say which one — geckos took up residence around his house and began feasting on ants. “They finally went and wiped them out after all this time,” he said.
“But the geckos are gone, too. ... I don’t know where they’re at, where they’ve gone to. Did they die? Are they in the trees, in the forest? Are they in some old buildings? Will they come back? They’re all gone, but the carpenter ants are gone, too.”
Unfortunately, it’s impossible for The Informer to say with certainty what happened to the lizards.
But the possibilities include predators, like cats and birds; the departure of juvenile geckos seeking homes of their own, usually buildings; old age; a lack of food; the introduction of fluorescent or sodium vapor lighting, which the lizards avoid; or any combination of the above.
The Informer answers questions from readers each Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. It is researched and written by Andrew Perzo, an American Press staff writer. To ask a question, call 494-4098, press 5 and leave voice mail, or email firstname.lastname@example.org