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I live in Montgomery County Maryland. I am not a lawyer.

But I have significant legal experience. I have successfully sued people, watched many trials, I have successfully won dozens of trials for my own traffic violations. And I'm a former state legislator. So I have read and argued about lots of legislation. Sometimes I feel like an amateur lawyer myself. And a pretty darn good one at that.

My father recently received a ticket from an automated-traffic-enforcement system because he made a right turn without coming to a full stop. The fine is $75. But he doesn't want to pay it and I don't want him to pay it. It's more the principle of the matter than the fine amount.

Because of my extensive experience litigating traffic trials, I want to represent my father in his trial. But as I mentioned above, I am not a licensed attorney. Can I represent him nonetheless? When the judge goes through the docket and calls his case, can I stand up and say, "Your Honor, I'm here representing Mr. Ali in this case?" Or will I get in trouble for doing so?

This case is in the District Court of Maryland in Montgomery County.

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If you are not a member of the Bar of Maryland, you may not "practice, attempt to practice, or offer to practice law in the State unless admitted to the Bar." Maryland Business Occupations and Professions § 10-601.

"Practicing law" includes "representing another person before a unit of the State government or of a political subdivision." Maryland Business Occupations and Professions § 10-101.

"[A] person who violates § 10-601 of this subtitle is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to a fine not exceeding $5,000 or imprisonment not exceeding 1 year or both." Maryland Business Occupations and Professions § 10-606.

EDIT: Because it's coming up in the comments I'll add that the option of a "McKenzie friend" is unavailable in Maryland and in the United States generally. There are some jurisdictions experimenting with limited representation by non-lawyers, but I don't know of any such moves in Maryland.

  • 3
    There might not be something analogous in the US, but in Germany it's forbidden to practice law too, but that only applies if you get something in return (make a business out of it), not if you just advise a friend. And furthermore, there's some obscure law allowing someone to represent someone else in court if they have relevant knowledge (or something like that). Is there nothing in the US allowing a similar work around? – DonQuiKong Nov 1 '18 at 8:22
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    @paulj the definition is linked in the answer. It states it means "to engage in any of the following activities". Receiving remuneration doesn't affect whether or not one is engaged in any of those activities. – Will Nov 1 '18 at 13:07
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    Does Maryland have the equivalent of a McKenzie friend? In England and Wales (and other jurisdictions), a McKenzie friend can advise a litigant in person, but cannot address the court themselves. – Martin Bonner Nov 1 '18 at 14:31
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    Nope. Getting a "power of attorney" does not actually give you the powers of an attorney. – bdb484 Nov 1 '18 at 20:25
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    damn, so I should rip up that "Powers of Thor" document I was going to get notarized... – NKCampbell Nov 1 '18 at 21:05

protected by feetwet Nov 1 '18 at 18:36

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