Of all the professions impersonated by Frank Abagnale, Jr., the con man memorialized in the movie "Catch Me If You Can," he says being a lawyer was the easiest to fake. In an interview with the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal Law Blog, Abagnale said that impersonating a lawyer involved the same research and persuasion skills he used as a con man. Well, great. But it's worth noting for those who are tempted to try fake lawyering rather than going to the time and trouble to be qualified that Abagnale did go to jail -- eventually. ABA Journal reports that he is now a fraud consultant who lectures at the FBI Academy. Coincidentally, Reuters reports that New York has passed a new law to make impersonating a lawyer a Class E felony. Those who are convicted of impersonating an attorney, causing another person to suffer monetary loss or damages exceeding one thousand dollars or other material damage resulting from impairment of a legal right" are subject to imprisonment up to four years. In contrast, here's Michigan's statute:
600.916 Unauthorized practice of law.
(1) A person shall not practice law or engage in the law business, shall not in any manner whatsoever lead others to believe that he or she is authorized to practice law or to engage in the law business, and shall not in any manner whatsoever represent or designate himself or herself as an attorney and counselor, attorney at law, or lawyer, unless the person is regularly licensed and authorized to practice law in this state. A person who violates this section is guilty of contempt of the supreme court and of the circuit court of the county in which the violation occurred, and upon conviction is punishable as provided by law. This section does not apply to a person who is duly licensed and authorized to practice law in another state while temporarily in this state and engaged in a particular matter.
(2) A domestic violence victim advocate's assistance that is provided in accordance with section 2950c does not violate this section.