Law Review Article on Non-Attorney Practice (August 2012)

An Administrative Law Judge in Virginia, named Drew Swank, has written an article regarding non-attorney Social Security Disability representatives and the unauthorized practice of law. He expressed his opinion, based on his experience as an ALJ, that non-attorneys lack the legal training provided by a law degree, and passing a bar exam to become licensed to practice law, to properly handle a disability case. He also addressed the fact that non-attorneys are not regulated by the ethical standards that are required of a licensed attorney. He also noted that many national disability firms hire non-attorneys, in his opinion, because they are cheaper to hire than attorneys. He actually refers to non-attorneys as "Bob" who appears at the hearing office and needs the security guard to point out their clients, since they have never met them before appearing for their client's hearing. Ultimately, it is the ALJ's opinion that allowing a non-attorney to represent someone in a proceeding as important as a social security disability hearing, may involve the unauthorized practice of law. At the very least, he clearly argues that non-attorneys are ill equipped to properly represent a Social Security Disability claimant. The article can be found in the Winter 2012 edition of the Southern Illinois University Law Journal.