Dolgetta Law

Can a Real Estate Licensee Prepare Leases?

A recent Legal Update for the Members of our Association reported a case decided by the Department of State in 2010 in which a real estate licensee, Marie A. Manfredi, had her license revoked for having engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in violation of Judiciary Law §478 (Department of State Division of Licensing Services v. Manfredi et al, 126 DOS 10). This case reiterated the longstanding position taken by the Department of State that only under specified conditions, can a non-lawyer, even a real estate licensee, prepare any legal document, without violating the law.

The Law that Governs

Section 478 of the Judiciary Law of the State of New York prohibits the practice of law by non-attorneys. This Section was enacted in 1965. It was subsequently determined by the Appellate Division in 1974 that the purpose of §478 is to “protect citizens against dangers of legal representation and advice given by persons not trained, examined and licensed for such work.” (Jemzura v. McCue (3rd Dept. 1974, 45 A.D.2d 797, 357 N.Y.S.2d 167, appeal dismissed 37 N.Y.2d 750, 374 N.Y.S.2d 624, 337 N.E.2d 135, appeal dismissed 37 N.Y.2d 786, 375 N.Y.S.2d 1031, 337 N.E.2d 621).

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