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94 N.J.L.J. 17
January 14, 1971
COMMITTEE ON THE UNAUTHORIZED PRACTICE OF LAW
Appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court
Will Forms: Sale By Layman
The single issue to be covered in this Opinion is whether the
solicitation by a layman for the sale of will forms, in the manner
shown below, constitutes the unauthorized practice of law.
An advertisement has appeared in newspapers published and
circulated in New Jersey, as follows:
What Happens If I Die Without a Will?
The court, in effect, writes your will for you. If
you have minor children the court decides which
relatives (guardian) will raise your children.
When no will is left, checking and savings accounts
are often immediately frozen...many times for
years!(Name and Address of Advertiser)
Expensive court costs, legal fees and seemingly
unending trips to court. Stocks, property,
automobile titles - all tied up! The problems are
too numerous to list here.
Anyone can do it. American Will Forms have
published a simple but binding, legal will form
that can be completed in minutes. (Valid in 50
Self-explanatory instructions, general information
included. Sit right down this very minute and send
$2.00 today. If not 100% satisfied, return within
10 days for an immediate refund. If you have
already made a will why not order some forms for
your close relatives?
Similar advertisements have been broadcast by local radio
stations in New Jersey.
It is the opinion of the Committee that such solicitation does
constitute the unauthorized practice of law by a person not
authorized to practice law in this state. It also is penalized by
The advertisement is very similar to the one before the Texas
Court of Civil Appeals in Bill Palmer, d/b/a National Will Form Co.
v. Unauthorized Practice Committee of the State Bar of Texas, 438
S.W. 2d 374 (1969), in which the Court affirmed an injunction
granted by a lower court restraining Mr. Palmer from offering will
forms for sale to the general public.
Mr. Palmer was a layman, not licensed to practice law in
Texas, or in any other state. He had carried on an advertising
campaign in the newspapers throughout Texas for the sale of will
forms. The Texas Court of Civil Appeals in citing Cape May County
Bar Association v. Ludlam, 45 N.J. 21 (1965), pointed out that
selection of the proper legal form was the exercise of legal
judgment, and therefore constituted the practice of law.
We are aware of the New York Court of Appeals decision in New
York County Lawyers' Association v. Dacey, 21 N.Y. 2d 694 (1967),
which adopted the dissenting opinion of the New York Supreme Court
Appellate Division, 28 A.D. 2d 161 (1967), which found that
publication of Mr. Dacey's book of forms did not constitute the
unauthorized practice of law in New York. The opinion appears to
be based upon the premise that since the book offered general
advise rather advice directed to an individual, an essential
ingredient of the practice of law was missing. We do not concur
with such a narrow basis when considering the protection of the
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