- March 22, 2010
- All Ohio Issuing Offices
- Unauthorized Practice of Law
Non-attorney title agents and title agencies are reminded that the preparation of deeds and other legal instruments, without the review and consent of a licensed attorney, constitutes the unauthorized practice of law.
The Ohio Supreme Court recently imposed a $20,000 civil penalty against a former Cincinnati title agent for preparing and recording two general warranty deeds ($10,000 per deed), each of which falsely indicated they had been prepared by an attorney. The court further ordered the agent disclose to the Ohio State Bar Association the names and addresses of any other agency clients whose deeds were prepared by a non-attorney, and to notify all such clients and all lenders and title insurance companies involved in their transactions that the deeds regarding those transactions were prepared by a person not qualified to practice law. The Court has previously held that "the practice of law embraces the preparation of legal documents on another's behalf, including deeds which convey real property."
The Ohio Constitution vests the Ohio Supreme Court with original jurisdiction over the admission to the practice of law, the discipline of persons so admitted, and all other matters relating to the practice of law, including regulating the unauthorized practice of law for the purpose of protecting the public from persons and entities purporting to provide legal assistance to others but who have not been qualified to practice law.
If you have questions relating to this bulletin, please contact your local underwriting personnel or Stewart Legal Services.
For on-line viewing of this and other bulletins, please log onto www.vuwriter.com.
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.