Forman v. State Dept. of Children & Families, 2007 WL 601628 (Fla. 4th DCA Feb 28, 2007)

Sometimes it’s good to review the basics, like needing a license to practice law.  And no, a power of attorney wont cut it.  The fact that we need an appellate opinion to make this point should probably be troubling.  But here we are . . .

Mrs. Forman’s daughter, Sara Leftow, has filed a brief on behalf of her mother. It appears that Ms. Leftow is acting under a power of attorney to proceed on her mother’s behalf. Ms. Leftow’s brief raises valid points of concern.

However, pleadings filed by a non-lawyer on behalf of another are a nullity. See Torrey v. Leesburg Reg’l Med. Ctr., 769 So.2d 1040, 1043 (Fla.2000). The same rule applies to briefs filed in this court. Ms. Leftow’s power of attorney to act on her mother’s behalf authorizes her to act as her mother’s agent, not as her mother’s attorney at law. See Hodges v. Surratt, 366 So.2d 768, 773 (Fla. 4th DCA 1979); Pryor v. King, 485 So.2d 28, 29 (Fla. 1st DCA 1986) (holding that trial court was correct in not allowing appellant’s wife, who was armed with appellant’s power of attorney, to represent him in a quiet title action).

The Florida rule declaring a non-lawyer’s pleadings filed on behalf of another to be a nullity is the product of the state’s policy against the unauthorized practice of law. See Torrey, 769 So.2d at 1043.