I am a paralegal. I would like to start a company offering paralegal services such as drafting documents and filing documents (and paying the fee) in the proper court of law for law firms, agencies and the public. Is there a Texas law that prohibits this service?

You state that you want to start your own paralegal service. Your business would include drafting of legal documents for law firms and the general public, filing documents with the appropriate agency and payment of the appropriate filing fees. You would also represent persons directly in negotiations.

By law, paralegals are not allowed to directly represent persons in legal matters. A business that directly represents the general public in legal matters is engaged in the unauthorized practice of law (or UPL), which is a felony. Setting fees for legal matters is also reserved for duly licensed attorneys. For a non-lawyer to do the same is to engage in the unauthorized practice of law. Preparing legal documents for the public is also reserved for duly licensed attorneys and to “draft” legal documents for the general public without working under the direct supervision of a licensed attorney is to engage in UPL. Opening a “forms” practice that provides standard legal forms for the general public, may also be engaging in UPL by simply choosing or recommending a particular form. Working as a freelance paralegal under the direct supervision of a duly licensed attorney is not UPL. Representing persons in disputes or negotiations may or may not be UPL, event it that representation does not involve money settlements. And direct representation of a person in legal matters is reserved for duly licensed attorneys.

Simply filing a document with a clerk or other appropriate person and/or paying fees for the filing of such document does not constitute UPL. The simple act of presenting a document for filing, whether in person, by mail or online, is not normally the practice of law but a simple administrative matter. If a legal representation is directly made, an opinion directly given or a signature to an official document is made, that is where UPL might come into the picture. Simply conveying a document from point A (the attorney) to point B (the clerk or other official) is a transportation issue.