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For many years, but increasingly during the past quarter of a century, the bar has been engaged in a struggle. This struggle is to maintain and increase the bar's prestige, authority and income. It has involved frequent charges by lawyers of unauthorized practice by non-lawyers. Unauthorized practice is the performance of legal services for others that by law only lawyers may perform. The line between unauthorized practice and legitimate lay representation is often a fuzzy one; but, with many exceptions, only lawyers may appear before courts, draft legal instruments, and give advice on the law. This monopoly position of lawyers has been encroached upon and is threatened with further encroachment.

The bar's major opponents have been powerful business groups that compete with lawyers or would like to do so. These businesses include accounting firms, collection agencies, banks, trust companies, realty companies, and automobile clubs. They also include insurance companies: title insurance firms, independent insurance adjusting firms, claims departments of casualty insurance companies, and life insurance underwriters. The intensity of the unauthorized practice controversy has varied from business to business and from time to time. In addition to these extensive and well-established businesses, a miscellany of individuals and minor businesses have found themselves opposed by the bar as engaging in unauthorized practice. Some of these persons and businesses are reputable, others are engaged in illegal and fraudulent schemes as their main enterprises. When challenged as unauthorized practitioners, they do not put up as much opposition as do the well-established businesses.

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