Why is it Legal for ProAdvocate Group to Give Legal Advice and Services if they are not Licensed Attorneys?
A number of people have asked this question since their attorney or friends have told them that you have to be licensed as an attorney in order to practice law in any state. This is true as long as you are dispensing legal advice in the Public Domain, i.e., to the general public at large, as this type of practice is regulated by various state and federal licensing boards who exercise strict oversight and can impose restrictions, sanctions and penalties usually without redress.
But this is not true if you are providing legal services and/or advice in the Private Domain.
Allow me to explain the difference.
Public Domain versus Private Domain
In the public domain, a person who advises another that his legal rights have been infringed and refers him to a particular attorney has committed a crime in the state of Virginia. But in the private domain of a First Amendment legal Membership Association, the state, “…in the domain of these indispensable liberties, whether of…association, the decisions of this Court recognize that abridgment of such rights.” NAACP v. Button, 371 U.S. 415 at 421. The “… modes
of… association protected by the First and Fourteenth (are modes) which Virginia may not prohibit.” NAACP v. Button, at 415. In other words, a private mode or domain is protected and is a different domain than a public domain. What was a criminal act in the public domain became a legally protected act in the private domain or private association.
Also, the private domain is referred to as a “…sanctuary from unjustified interference by the State” in Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510 at 534-535. And as a “constitutional shelter” in Roberts v. United States, 82 L. Ed. 2d462 at 472. And again as a “shield” in Roberts v. United States, supra at 474.
In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court in Thomas v. Collins, 323 U.S. 516 at 531, specifically refers to the “… domains set apart …for free assembly.” The First Amendment right to association creates a “preserve” in Baird v. Arizona, 401 U.S. 1.
In summary, the private domain of an association is a sanctuary, constitutional shelter, shield, and domain set apart and a preserve according to a number of U.S. Supreme Court decisions.
It should become clear that the right of association (which is inseparable from the right of free speech) coupled with the equal protection under the law provided by the 14th Amendment provides the basis for conducting legitimate business under the purview of the private domain.