-- precisely what the lawyers had said a bar association
monopoly was to protect the public from.
Was the bill, as charged, blatantly
unconstitutional? While arguments will rage, section 1(a)
of the proposed law does say that "furnishing advice
or counsel, in any form or manner, to another person
concerning the interpretation of any law or regarding any
legal right, duty, obligation or remedy available by
law" would be classified as practicing law without a
license if the individual speaking was not an active
member of the Nevada Bar Association.
"There's just a lot in there that's ...
just unconstitutional," says Libby Herlihy, a Las
Vegas paralegal who helped organize opposition.
In her view, the bill was so broad that it
essentially obliterated the First Amendment to the U.S.
"If someone has a gun to your head,"
she argued, "you can't say, 'Please don't shoot;
you're breaking the law and you don't want to go to jail
for that.' You can't say that because you're breaking the
Herlihy says she saw the bill as mainly an
attempt by the bar association to exclude providers of
paralegal services and other competitors from the
marketplace, so that consumers
an alternative to paying a lawyer.
"And most people cannot afford an
attorney, you know, to help them fill out a form. A lot
of the paralegals do it for 20 bucks, and give a little
guideline or so. [That's] instead of [the consumer]
paying $150 for an hour with an attorney, and then he turns
it over to his paralegal."
Even though 98 percent of the clients of her
own firm, Corporation Services of Nevada, are attorneys
from outside the state, says Herlihy, it was the issue of
freedom of choice that energized her.
"I think it's going to affect a lot of
people, and that's really a shame. And once you lose your
rights, you never get them back; it's very difficult to
get them back. I've traveled around the world many times,
and lived overseas for many, many years, and know what
it's like to live under that type of rule, and I don't
want to live under that type of rule."
Wayne Blevins, the Nevada Bar Association's
executive director, says that the bar association's
legislation, though pigeonholed now, will probably be
back in a modified form.
"Our committee that's been working on
that is still discussing it and trying to find ways that
we can strengthen