by Tom Gordon
In a brief filed yesterday, Responsive Law urged the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to uphold a lower court decision preventing the New York attorney general from enforcing unauthorized practice of law (UPL) laws against a nonprofit providing consumers with free legal advice about debt collection using experts who are not lawyers.
Responsive Law's brief emphasizes that not only does the nonprofit have a First Amendment right to speak on legal matters, but that the recipients of this speech have a right to hear it.
Furthermore, the state's claimed interest in protecting consumers from harm ignores the history of UPL laws in New York. There is clear historical evidence that these laws were put in place at the urging of lawyers to protect them from competition, Consumer protection was merely an after-the-fact justification.
Responsive Law also argues that the state cannot claim that it is protecting consumers when the “protection” it provides cuts them off from the only legal help available to them.
Responsive Law would like to thank Greg Beck for his volunteer work in writing the brief. You can read our entire brief in Upsolve v. James here.