What is the difference between a lawyer and a consultant?
Anyone can call himself or herself a consultant. It requires no special training, no special test or certification or license. One can be a “legal consultant” without having gone to law school, without having taken the bar exam, and without having a law license. But that consultant cannot practice law. In my jurisdiction (Utah), one cannot practice law without a license. What “practice law” means, however, is is always in flux. Just when it seems that a good definition of “practice of law” is formulated, somebody finds a legitimate exception.
There are millions of people who are not lawyers but who nevertheless have extensive legal knowledge. Your accountant must know and understand a substantial body of law and regulations. He/she can even explain these laws to you and give certain kinds of (what we have to concede constitutes) “legal advice” based upon this knowledge. But only lawyers are allowed to perform certain tasks or provide certain kinds of legal advice.
Many non-lawyers can provide many kinds of useful legal information and services. Depending upon what the laws and regulations are in your jurisdiction, it may be perfectly legal and perfectly safe for you to get legal forms from a non-lawyer and even “clerical” help and information (as opposed to “specific legal advice”) in filling them out.
Bottom line: If you need a lawyer, don’t hire a consultant. Both you and the consultant could get burned. If you want to play it safe when it comes to assurances that you are getting real legal representation and advice from someone qualified to practice law, hire a lawyer.
To know who is and is not a lawyer, inquire with your jurisdiction’s bar association or whatever the entity in your jurisdiction is that keeps track of licensed lawyers. If the person you are contemplating hiring as a lawyer is not on the list, you may be dealing with an impostor.
Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277consultant, lawyer, licensed paralegal practitioner, paralegal