Madison Co., IL. (ECWd) –
During the Veterans Assistance Commission of Madison County’s (“VACMC”) December 2022 meeting, Thomas Burkart, the attorney for “the VAC” made a statement related to the process for seating delegates and alternates.
He was followed by a commission member disagreeing and reading from the Military Veterans Assistance Act, then the attorney promptly asked, “are you now practicing the unauthorized practice of law?” See video clip below.
We hear this ridiculous statement all the time, which is designed to intimidate and cast doubt upon the person speaking.
Every person has the First Amendment right to read, interpret, and render their own opinions and statements on anything they wish to comment on – even on state statutes and by-laws, without running afoul of the law.
We urge attorneys to review what actually constitutes the unauthorized practice of law prior to embarrassing themselves during a public meeting.
The Illinois Attorneys Act, 705 ILCS 205, defines what the unauthorized practice of law is:
- without a license cannot “practice as an attorney” – “receive compensation for any legal services” – “hold yourself out to provide legal services”
The speaker at the meeting did none of those things, yet the attorney didn’t like what he had to say, so he questioned him on it.
Exercising a person’s constitutional right to read and speak is not “practicing as an attorney” – no more than someone saying “looks like you need a new roof on your house” is practicing as a licensed roofer.