Except as provided by section five-a of this article, it shall be unlawful for any corporation or voluntary association to practice or appear as an attorney at law for any person in any court of this state or before any judicial body, or to hold itself out to the public as being entitled to practice law, or to render or furnish legal services or advice, or to furnish an attorney or counsel to render legal services of any kind in actions or proceedings of any nature, or in any other manner to assume to be entitled to practice law, or assume, use or advertise the title of lawyer in such manner as to convey the impression that it is entitled to practice law or to furnish legal advice, services or counsel, or to advertise that, either alone or together with or by or through any person, whether a duly and regularly admitted attorney at law or not, it has, owns, conducts or maintains a law office for the practice of law, or for furnishing legal advice, services or counsel. It shall be unlawful further for any corporation or voluntary association to solicit, itself or by or through its officers, agents or employees, any claim or demand for the purpose of bringing an action thereon, or of settling the estate of any insolvent debtor, or of representing as attorney at law, or of furnishing legal advice, services or counsel to, a person sued or about to be sued in any action or proceeding, or against whom an action or proceeding has been or is about to be brought, or who may be affected by any action or proceeding which has or may be instituted in any court or before any judicial body, or for the purpose of so representing any person in the pursuit of any civil or criminal remedy. Any corporation or voluntary association violating the provisions of this section, or any officer, trustee, director, agent or employee of such corporation or voluntary association who directly or indirectly engages in any of the acts herein prohibited, or assists such corporation or voluntary association to do such prohibited acts, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than one thousand dollars. The fact that any such officer, trustee, director, agent or employee shall be a duly and regularly admitted attorney at law shall not be held to permit or allow any such corporation or voluntary association to do the acts prohibited herein, nor shall such fact be a defense upon the trial of any of the persons mentioned herein for a violation of the provisions of this section.
This section shall not apply to a partnership composed of licensed attorneys, or to a corporation or voluntary association lawfully engaged in examining and insuring the titles to real property, nor shall it prohibit a corporation or voluntary association from employing an attorney or attorneys in and about its own immediate affairs or in any litigation to which it is or may be a party, nor shall it apply to organizations organized for benevolent or charitable purposes, or for the purpose of assisting persons without means in the pursuit of any civil remedy.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2016 Regular Session
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