|For immediate release||May 31, 2016|
Law Society takes action against individuals, businesses engaging in unauthorized practice of law
Vancouver, May 31, 2016 – Under the Legal Profession Act, the Law Society is responsible for licensing lawyers and regulating the legal profession. The Law Society also takes action against those who put the public at risk by illegally offering legal services or misrepresenting themselves as lawyers.
From February 25 to May 31, 2016, the Law Society obtained eight undertakings from seven individuals and businesses not to engage in the practice of law.
During that time period, the Law Society also obtained a court order finding an individual in contempt of an injunction prohibiting him from engaging in the unauthorized practice of law and expanding the terms of the injunction:
On May 9, 2016, Madam Justice Gerow found Michael Helfrich, also known as Marvin Helfrich, of North Vancouver, in contempt for having engaged in the practice of law contrary to a 2013 injunction order. Helfrich, who is a former lawyer from Oregon, admitted to having appeared as an advocate in court, negotiated the settlement of a claim for damages, drafted pleadings and documents for a bankruptcy proceeding and gave procedural and substantive legal advice to third parties contrary to the injunction. Madam Justice Gerow ordered Helfrich to pay a $5,000 fine, perform 100 hours of community work service in a field not related to law or accounting, pay $5,500 in restitution to a person for whom he provided legal services and pay the Law Society $6,500 in costs. The court also expanded the 2013 injunction to prohibit Helfrich from performing any activities that constitute the practice of law regardless of whether he charges a fee, including assisting with corporate documents, and also from representing himself as a lawyer or in any other manner that connotes that he is qualified or entitled to practise law. Helfrich is also prohibited from commencing, prosecuting or defending a proceeding in any court, unless he is representing himself in the proceeding, acting without counsel solely on his own behalf.
To read the consent order, see the Law Society’s database of unauthorized practitioners.
Under the Legal Profession Act, only trained, qualified lawyers (or articled students or paralegals under a lawyer’s supervision) may provide legal services and advice to the public, as others are not regulated, nor insured.
When the Law Society receives complaints about an unqualified or untrained person purporting to provide legal services, it will investigate and take appropriate action if there is a potential for harm to the public.
The Law Society of British Columbia upholds and protects the public interest in the administration of justice by ensuring the independence, integrity and competence of lawyers, establishing education and professional development standards for lawyers, regulating the practice of law and preserving and protecting the rights and freedoms of all persons.
For further information contact: