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Questions as to issuing and revoking of licenses to practice law and the terms and conditions thereof, determining what acts do or do not constitute the practice of law, punishments for unlicensed practices, methods to prevent the unlawful practices of law and all other matters pertaining thereto are judicial functions and fall within the powers and duties of the judicial branch of the government made up of constitutionally created courts, the supreme court, district courts and county courts.
The Denver Bar Association, the Colorado Bar Association, Philip A. Rouse and Lawrence A. Long, and Wm. Rann Newcomb and Lawrence A. Long (herein referred to as plaintiffs) in three separate actions sought to enjoin Van Schaack & Company, Conway-Bogue Realty Investment Company, and John F. Bruno (herein referred to as defendants) from preparing certain legal documents, giving advice to the parties to such documents as to the legal effect thereof and performing other acts, all of which plaintiffs allege constitute the unlawful practice of law. Plaintiffs further allege that the defendants make no charge for said services other than broker's commissions; that the defendants are generally not parties to any of said instruments. Defendant real estate brokers deny that their actions constitute the unlawful practice of law and allege that said acts are reasonable and necessary incidents to the proper conduct of their licensed businesses. Defendants sought review, via separate writs of error consolidated for review, of judgments and decrees from the District Court.
Were the defendants guilty of unlawful practice of law?
No. The judgments and decrees in each of the cases were reversed and the cases were remanded with directions that complaint in each of the cases be dismissed.
The court found that the preparation of receipts and options, deeds, promissory notes, deeds of trust, mortgages, releases of encumbrances, leases, notice terminating tenancies, demands to pay rent or vacate by completing standard and approved printed forms, coupled with the giving of explanation or advice as to the legal effect thereof, constituted the practice of law. However, the court concluded that the real estate brokers should not be enjoined from preparing in the regular course of their business the instruments enumerated above, at the requests of their customers and only in connection with transactions involving sales of real estate, loans on real estate or the leasing of real estate which transactions are being handled by them. Further, the court found that to deny the public the right to conduct real estate transactions in the manner in which they have been transacted for over half a century, and to require all such transactions to be conducted through lawyers, would not be in the public interest.