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When a Company Sounds Suspiciously Like a Law Firm

Wall Street Journal Online (01/19/12) Joe Palazzolo

Legal staffing companies, hired by law firms to provide temporary lawyers to review documents in huge pieces of litigation, have dramatically expanded the scope of their services. A question has arisen over what services these firms can provide without violating regulations that prohibit them from practicing law. A regulatory committee of the Washington, DC, Court of Appeals recently drafted an opinion on the issue to give guidance to companies on the “permissible scope of services that may be performed without engaging in the practice of law.”

The opinion says the staffing companies may not provide legal advice to their clients or hold themselves out to be able to provide legal services, and they should avoid “broad statements that a company can manage the entire document review or discovery process” because they “have a serious potential to mislead.”