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State ex rel. Commission on Unauthorized Practice of Law v. Hansen

Supreme Court of Nebraska

June 14, 2013

State of Nebraska ex rel. Commission on Unauthorized Practice of Law, relator,
v.
Paul J. Hansen, respondent.

1. Rules of the Supreme Court: Attorneys at Law. The Nebraska Supreme Court has the inherent power to define and regulate the practice of law and is vested with exclusive power to determine the qualifications of persons who may be permitted to practice law.

2. ___: ___. The inherent power of the Nebraska Supreme Court to define and regulate the practice of law includes the power to prevent persons who are not attorneys admitted to practice in this state from engaging in the practice of law.

3. Attorney and Client: Actions. A legal proceeding in which a party is represented by a person not admitted to practice law is considered a nullity and is subject to dismissal.

4. Rules of the Supreme Court: Attorneys at Law. Pursuant to its inherent authority to define and regulate the practice of law in Nebraska, the Nebraska Supreme Court has adopted rules specifically addressed to the unauthorized practice of law. The purpose of the rules is to protect the public from potential harm caused by the actions of nonlawyers engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.

Original action. Injunction issued.

[286 Neb. 70] Sean J. Brennan, Special Prosecutor, for relator.

Paul J. Hansen, pro se.

Heavican, C.J., Wright, Connolly, Stephan, McCormack, Miller-Lerman, and Cassel, JJ.

Per Curiam.

NATURE OF CASE

This is an original action brought by the Nebraska Supreme Court Commission on Unauthorized Practice of Law (Commission) to enjoin Paul J. Hansen from engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.

BACKGROUND

In November 2011, the Commission received a complaint from legal counsel for the Nebraska State Patrol alleging that Hansen was engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. The complaint alleged that Hansen was "maintaining a website selling presentations on filing evictions and common law l[ie]ns" and that Hansen was "holding himself out as a lawyer and counsel, but not as an attorney." After an investigation, the Commission found that Hansen was not a lawyer and that he had engaged in the practice of law as defined by Neb. Ct. R. § 3-1001(A) and (B). Specifically, the Commission found that Hansen "has a webpage that offers the public 'eviction kits' for $35 and 'common law liens' for $25." The Commission also noted "[t]here may be more violations that exist . . . ."

The Commission mailed a certified letter dated February 23, 2012, to Hansen at his Omaha, Nebraska, address, directing him to contact the Commission and to cease and desist from engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. Copies of the Commission's written findings and this court's rules governing the unauthorized practice of law were enclosed with this letter. When the letter was returned unclaimed, the Commission arranged for it to be personally served on Hansen at his Omaha address by ...


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