The Georgia Bar's Standing Committee on Unlicensed Practice of Law is holding a hearing on June 1 to determine whether forestry consultants using form contracts are engaging in UPL. Responsive Law has submitted testimony on this issue. While we left the specifics of how this decision might impact the timber industry to the Georgia Forestry Association, our testimony focused on the effect that the committee's decision could have on the everyday legal needs of Georgians.
Specifically, we pointed out that most Georgians cannot afford a lawyer, and that they often seek free help from family, friends, and colleagues with legal matters, including filling out forms. If the UPL Committee rules that forestry consultants, who do not charge for the completion of contract forms, are engaged in UPL, then so is the person with a better grasp of English (or of legalese) who assists her friend with completing a legal form relating to a divorce or a foreclosure. This help may not be as valuable as that provided by a lawyer, but it is often all that people can afford. Unless the Georgia Bar plans to offer tens of thousands of additional hours of pro bono service to poor and middle-class Georgians, it should not take away the limited help that they have. That, more than forestry consultants, is what is at stake here.