Unauthorized Practice of Law Order Reversed; Colorado Attorney’s Professional Reputation Vindicated

Bovino v. MacMillan, 4D11-3105

The Law Offices of Robin Bresky recently won reversal of a trial court’s erroneous order finding that our client/Appellant, a Colorado attorney, engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. The Appellant had a broad power of attorney (POA) relating to the financial affairs of a man that he represented in Colorado. That man’s mother later initiated a guardianship proceeding over her son in Broward County, alleging that her son was unable to manage his own affairs. Our client filed an objection to the guardianship petition based on the existence of the POA that he held. The trial court struck our client’s filing based on a finding that it constituted the unauthorized practice of law because our client was not licensed as a Florida attorney.

On appeal, we argued that our client/Appellant had intervened in the guardianship proceeding as an interested person pursuant to the guardianship statutes rather than in his capacity as the proposed ward’s attorney. We called the appellate court’s attention to the fact that Appellant had clearly stated in his objection in the guardianship case that he was filing the documents on his own behalf. We argued it was error for the lower tribunal to find this attorney was engaging in the unauthorized practice of law and that our client believed it was his fiduciary duty to bring the existence of the POA to the attention of lower tribunal. We further argued public policy should encourage this disclosure.

The Fourth DCA held in a written opinion that Appellant’s objection in the guardianship proceeding did not constitute the unauthorized practice of law because Appellant did not purport to represent the client as his attorney in the proceeding. The Fourth DCA reversed the order on appeal and remanded for further proceedings. The reversal of the erroneous order finding that our client engaged in the unauthorized practice of law vindicates our client’s professional reputation.