October 19, 1992


TO: All Magistrates and Municipal Judges
FROM: Robert L. McCurdy, Staff Attorney
RE: Unauthorized Practice of Law

Pursuant to S.C. Const. Art. V. § 4, the S.C. Supreme Court is authorized to regulate the practice of law in this state. On September 21, 1992, the Court issued an Administrative Order (See ORDERS section of the Bench Book) clarifying certain practices which do not constitute the unauthorized practice of law.

The Court first recognized the validity of the principle found in S.C. Code Ann. § 40-5-80: an individual may represent another individual before any tribunal, if (1) the tribunal approves of the representation, and (2) the representative is not paid for his services. The Court then expanded that principle to allow a business to be represented by a non-lawyer officer, agent or employee, including attorneys licensed in other jurisdictions and those possessing Limited Certificates of Admission pursuant to Rule 405, SCACR, in civil magistrate's court proceedings. The representation may be compensated and should be undertaken at the business's option, and with the understanding that the business assumes the risk of any problems incurred as the result of the representation. The Order requires that the magistrate obtain a written authorization from the entity's president, chairperson, general partner, owner or chief executive officer, or in the case of a person possessing a limited certificate, a copy of the certificate, before permitting the representation. I have enclosed for your use two sample authorization forms. One authorizes a representative for a single, named case, while the other, once filed with the court, remains effective until later revoked by the business.

Finally, the Court reaffirmed the rule that police officers may prosecute traffic offenses in magistrate's court and municipal court. Only the arresting officer may prosecute the case, although if the officer is new or inexperienced, he may be assisted at trial by his supervisor.

Please contact this office if you have any questions concerning the Order.