Bulletin: NC2012002

Date:
April 04, 2012
To:
All North Carolina Issuing Offices
RE:
Authorized Practice of Law in North Carolina

Dear Associates:

The North Carolina State Bar has revised Authorized Practice Advisory Opinion 2002-1 on the Role of Layperson in the Consummation of Residential Real Estate Transactions.  The revised opinion places a new emphasis on the supervisory role of NC attorneys in residential real estate transactions, including refinances, and more clearly states what actions constitute the unauthorized practice of law.  The revisions include the following: 

  • A person who is not licensed to practice law in North Carolina and is not working under the direct supervision of an active member of the State Bar may not perform functions or services that constitute the practice of law.
  • A nonlawyer is engaged in the unauthorized practice of law if he or she performs any of the following functions in connection with a residential real estate closing: 
    1. Abstracts or provides an opinion on title to real property;
    2. Explains the legal status of title to real estate, the legal effect of exceptions in a title insurance commitment except as necessary to underwrite a policy of insurance;
    3. Explains or gives advice or counsel about the rights or responsibilities of parties concerning matters disclosed by a land survey;
    4. Provides a legal opinion, advice, or counsel in response to inquiries by parties regarding legal rights or obligations, including but not limited to the rights and obligations created by the purchase agreement;
    5. Advises, counsels or instructs a party to the transaction with respect to alternative ways to take title or legal consequences of taking title in a particular way;
    6. Drafts a legal document for a party or assists in completion of a legal document or selects or assists in selection of a form legal document from several forms having different legal implications;
    7. Explains or recommends a course of action to a party requiring exercise of a legal judgment;
    8. Attempts to settle or resolve a dispute between the parties;
    9. Determines that all conditions of the purchase agreement or the loan closing instructions have been satisfied in accordance with the buyer’s or the lender’s interests or instructions;
    10. Determines that the deed and deed of trust may be recorded after an update of title for any intervening conveyances or liens since the preliminary opinion;
    11. Determines that the funds may be legally disbursed pursuant to the North Carolina Good Funds Settlement Act. 

A copy of the revised opinion is attached.
 
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THIS BULLETIN IS FURNISHED TO INFORM YOU OF CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS. AS A REMINDER, YOU ARE CHARGED WITH KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONTENT ON VIRTUAL UNDERWRITER  AS IT EXISTS FROM TIME TO TIME AS IT APPLIES TO YOU, AS WELL AS ANY OTHER INSTRUCTIONS. OUR UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS DO NOT AUTHORIZE OUR ISSUING AGENTS TO ENGAGE IN SETTLEMENTS OR CLOSINGS ON BEHALF OF STEWART TITLE GUARANTY COMPANY. THIS BULLETIN IS NOT INTENDED TO DIRECT YOUR ESCROW OR SETTLEMENT PRACTICES OR TO CHANGE PROVISIONS OF APPLICABLE UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS. CONFIDENTIAL, PROPRIETARY, OR NONPUBLIC PERSONAL INFORMATION SHOULD NEVER BE SHARED OR DISSEMINATED EXCEPT AS ALLOWED BY LAW. IF APPLICABLE STATE LAW OR REGULATION IMPOSES ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS, YOU SHOULD CONTINUE TO COMPLY WITH THOSE REQUIREMENTS.

References

Bulletins Replaced:
None
Related Bulletins:
None
Underwriting Manual:
None
Exceptions Manual:
None
Forms:
None