Law Is Not A DIY Field: When Not To Represent Yourself
Individuals have the right to represent themselves and “act as their own attorney,” but do businesses? Not necessarily. Try to DIY, and you may discover you’ve overstepped the bounds.
That’s what happened to Community Management Group, LLC, which manages HOAs and condo associations in the Charleston tri-county area, in a recent case. Beyond the typical duties of property management companies, such as property upkeep and enforcement of association rules, CMG also engaged in the practice of law without the help of an attorney. Specifically, CMG “prepared and recorded a notice of lien and related documents; brought an action in magistrate’s court to collect the debt; and after obtaining a judgment in magistrate’s court, filed the judgment in circuit court,” and advertised the fact that they did these things, according to the South Carolina Supreme Court decision.
The Supreme Court in South Carolina has the power to regulate the practice of law, and has made some allowances for non-lawyers to act in place of a lawyer in certain instances. In its decision, the Court clarifies instances where it’s not appropriate for non-lawyers to practice, including the things that CMG did.
Hire an attorney to look out for your interests instead
There’s a reason the South Carolina Bar gives out licenses to practice law. Despite the proliferation of information available on legal issues on the web, it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea – or even legal – to take legal matters into your own hands. Instead, work with an experienced attorney who can help with your business and estate planning needs, like Gem McDowell of the Law Office of Gem McDowell in Mt. Pleasant, SC. Gem has 25 years of experience in business law, tax law, commercial real estate, and estate planning. You can reach him and his associate Lauren Turowetz by calling (843) 284-1021 or by filling out this contact form online.