2010 Tennessee Code
Title 23 - Attorneys-at-law
Chapter 3 - Unauthorized Practice and Improper Conduct
23-3-103 - Unlawful practice prohibited Penalty.

23-3-103. Unlawful practice prohibited Penalty.

(a)  No person shall engage in the practice of law or do law business, or both, as defined in § 23-3-101, unless the person has been duly licensed and while the person's license is in full force and effect, nor shall any association or corporation engage in the practice of the law or do law business, or both. However, nonresident attorneys associated with attorneys in this state in any case pending in this state who do not practice regularly in this state shall be allowed, as a matter of courtesy, to appear in the case in which they may be thus employed without procuring a license, if properly authorized in accordance with applicable rules of court, and when introduced to the court by a member in good standing of the Tennessee bar, if all the courts of the resident state of the nonresident attorney grant a similar courtesy to attorneys licensed in this state.

(b)  Any person who violates the prohibition in subsection (a) commits a Class A misdemeanor.

(c)  (1)  The attorney general and reporter may bring an action in the name of the state to restrain by temporary restraining order, temporary injunction or permanent injunction any violation of this chapter; to obtain a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed ten thousand dollars ($10,000) per violation, and to obtain restitution for any person who has suffered an ascertainable loss by reason of the violation of this chapter. The attorney general and reporter shall be entitled to be reimbursed for the reasonable costs and expenses of investigation and prosecution of acts under this chapter, including, but not limited to, reasonable attorney fees as well as expert and other witness fees.

     (2)  The action may be brought in a court of competent jurisdiction:

          (A)  In the county where the alleged violation took place or is about to take place;

          (B)  In the county in which the defendant resides, has a principal place of business or conducts, transacts or has conducted business; or

          (C)  If the defendant cannot be found in any of the locations in subdivisions (c)(2)(A) and (B), in the county in which the defendant can be found.

     (3)  The courts are authorized to issue orders and injunctions to restrain, prevent and remedy violations of this chapter, and the orders and injunctions shall be issued without bond.

     (4)  Any knowing violation of the terms of an injunction or order issued pursuant to this chapter shall be punishable by a civil penalty of not more than twenty thousand dollars ($20,000) per violation, in addition to any other appropriate relief.

(d)  (1)  Any organized bar association of a municipality, county, except any county having a metropolitan form of government, or multi-county region in which a violation occurs may bring a civil action seeking relief, as provided in this chapter, against any person that violates this chapter. Any organized statewide bar association, primarily representing plaintiff attorneys and having no locally-based affiliate associations, may bring a civil action in the municipality or county in which a violation occurs seeking relief, as provided in this chapter, against any person that violates this chapter. Upon the commencement of any action brought under this section by any bar association, the bar association shall provide a copy of the complaint or other initial pleading to the attorney general and reporter, who, in the public interest, may intervene and prosecute the action. The pleadings shall be provided to the attorney general and reporter simultaneously with the initial service to the defendant or defendants. Additionally, all subsequent filings shall be provided to the attorney general and reporter, including any judgments or notices of appeal by the initiating bar association.

     (2)  Any bar association bringing suit under this section is presumed to be acting in good faith and is granted a qualified immunity for the suit and the consequences of the suit. The presumption of good faith is rebuttable upon a showing by a preponderance of the evidence that the suit was brought for a malicious purpose.

[Acts 1935, ch. 30, § 2; C. Supp. 1950, § 9983.2 (Williams, § 7116.2); Acts 1974, ch. 604, § 1; 1974, ch. 640, § 1; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 29-303; Acts 1989, ch. 591, § 111; 1996, ch. 781, §§ 3, 4; 1999, ch. 123, §§ 1, 2; 2001, ch. 189, §§ 1, 2; 2006, ch. 945, § 3; 2007, ch. 236, § 1.]  

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