The Florida Bar
Formal Advisory Opinions
Rule 10-9.1 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar allows the Standing Committee on Unlicensed Practice of Law to issue proposed formal advisory opinions concerning activities which may constitute the unlicensed practice of law. Requests for advisory opinions must be in writing addressed to The UPL Department, The Florida Bar, 651 E. Jefferson Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2300. The request for an advisory opinion must state in detail all operative facts upon which the request for opinion is based and contain the name and address of the petitioner. Rule 10-9.1(a)(2) defines petitioner as an individual or organization seeking guidance as to the applicability, in a hypothetical situation, of the prohibitions against the unlicensed practice of law.
No opinion may be entered with respect to any case or controversy pending in any court in Florida and no informal opinions shall be issued. Rule 10-9.1(c). The proposed advisory opinion is only an interpretation of the law and does not constitute final court action. If the Standing Committee agrees to accept the request for a formal advisory opinion, notice will be published and a public hearing will be held. At the hearing, the committee will take testimony from all interested individuals. Written testimony may also be submitted prior to the hearing. The holding of a hearing does not guarantee the issuance of a proposed formal advisory opinion.
After the hearing, the Standing Committee will vote on whether to issue a proposed formal advisory opinion and on the substance of the opinion. If the Standing Committee finds that the conduct constitutes the unlicensed practice of law, the proposed formal advisory opinion is filed with the Supreme Court of Florida. If the Standing Committee finds that the conduct does not constitute the unlicensed practice of law, the Standing Committee may publish the opinion in the Florida Bar News or the committee may file the proposed opinion with the Supreme Court of Florida.
The petitioner may file comments in support of or in opposition to the proposed formal advisory opinion. Interested parties with leave of the court may also file comments. The Standing Committee is given an opportunity to reply. Any party may request oral argument before the Court.
- In 2011, the Standing Committee considered a request for formal advisory opinion on whether a nonlawyer who assists a property owner in a short sale transaction is engaged in the unlicensed practice of law and whether the answer would be different if the nonlawyer was a real estate licensee regulated under chapter 475, Fla. Stat., a title insurance agency/agent regulated under chapter 626, Fla. Stat., or a mortgage broker or other individual regulated under chapter 494, Fla. Stat. The transcript of the hearing and the written testimony can be accessed at the following: transcript of the public hearing and the written testimony.