Unlawful Practice of Law

In order to practice law in West Virginia You must be a member of the West Virginia State Bar and follow the rules for Admission to Practice Law in WV.


1. Jurisdiction. The committee on unlawful practice shall have jurisdiction over all matters and questions which may be considered as constituting the unlawful practice of law  under the definition of the practice of law adopted by the supreme court of appeals of West  Virginia by rule effective May 1, 1947, and any amendments or changes thereto, and in  accordance with other applicable principles of law governing and defining the practice of law in  this and other jurisdictions.

2. Powers. Such committee shall investigate, on its own initiative or upon request of any court or judge or upon the verified complaint of any person, any matter involving the alleged unlawful practice of law. Such committee is empowered to dismiss any complaint, to  enter into an agreement to desist from unlawful practices, or, when the facts warrant, to institute  appropriate proceedings in the name of the West Virginia State Bar, or in the name of any  authorized committee or of any member thereof, in any court having jurisdiction, for the purpose  of securing appropriate relief. Such committee may act as a committee, or through any  subcommittee thereof, or may refer any matter under consideration to any grievance committee for investigation.

3. Members; Terms; Vacancies; Removals. The committee on unlawful practice shall consist of seven members, selected by the board from the active members of the state bar. When first constituted, three members shall be selected for terms of one year, two for  terms of two years, and two for terms of three years. Thereafter, in each year, members shall be  selected, each for three-year terms, to fill vacancies occurring in that year by reason of the  expiration of the terms of office of members theretofore selected. Vacancies occurring for other  reasons shall be filled by the board for the unexpired terms. If a member of such committee be  determined by the board to have become incapacitated from performing his or her duties as such  member, or be absent from any two consecutive meetings of such committee, without cause  deemed adequate by the board, he or she may be removed by the board. The term of office of  each member shall commence at the conclusion of the annual meeting designated by the board in  making his or her appointment.

4. Officers; Subcommittees. For such committee a chairperson and vice chairperson shall be  designated annually by the board from the members of such committee. Such committee may  designate other officers and subcommittees, from its own members, with such of its powers and  responsibilities as it may deem proper.

5. Meetings; Quorum. Such committee shall meet, at any place in the State of West Virginia, upon call of its chairperson or vice chairperson, or upon call of the president of the state bar. Upon written request of five governors the president or executive director shall call a  meeting of such committee. Three members of such committee shall constitute a quorum.

6. Summons and Subpoena Powers. In any investigation or hearing under this article, such committee, any grievance committee, or any authorized member of either thereof, or any governor or officer of the state bar shall have the power, by summons or subpoena issued under the hand of any authorized member of either committee or of any governor or such officer, to summon and examine witnesses under oath administered by any member of said committees, any governor or such officer, and to compel their attendance and the  production of any and all books, papers, letters and other documents necessary or material to the  inquiry.

7. Effect of Summons or Subpoena. Any such summons or subpoena issued as provided in the preceding section 6 shall have the same force and effect as a summons or subpoena issued by a circuit court of the State of West Virginia. If any witness or other person  shall fail or refuse to appear, or to be sworn, or to testify, or to produce books, papers, letters or  other documents demanded, upon application to a circuit court or the judge thereof within the  congressional district in which any investigation or hearing is being conducted, a rule or an  attachment shall be issued against such witness or other person as in cases of contempt.

8. Reports. Such committee shall report to the executive director in writing immediately upon initiating any investigation or other action, and shall thereafter report to him or  her from time to time the status thereof, and upon final disposition of any matter shall forward to him or her a report thereon with the complete file thereof.

Unlawful Practice of Law Committee – Advisory Opinions