Relevant to this thread, a third year law student working under the “Law School Public Prosecutor Act of 1970,” more commonly called the “Third Year Practice Act” is absolutely, beyond a doubt, not practicing law.
In fact, the legislature classified third year practice under O.C.G.A. § 15-18-22, the Third Year Practice Act, as “a form of legal intern training.”
With the increasing docket in criminal matters, it is in the public interest to provide legal assistance to district attorneys and, in connection therewith, to utilize the services of third-year law students and staff instructors in criminal proceedings as a form of legal intern training which will promote the efficiency of criminal proceedings.
O.C.G.A. § 15-18-22 (Ga. 2007) [Emphasis added].
The statute is very clear that it is “legal intern training” and not the “practice of law.”
(a) It only applies to third year students helping prosecuting attorneys in criminal proceedings;
(b) The law student cannot go to court without a district attorney or “his duly appointed assistant” who must also be a licensed attorney “physically present”; and
(c) The law student is not allowed to sign any legal documents.
The fact that the law student cannot sign legal documents is a pretty good indicator that the law student is not, in fact, practicing law, but is, instead, going through legal intern training. According to the rules of the State of Georgia, one cannot sign a legal document of record unless the person is practicing law, which means the person has passed the bar exam and been admitted to practice in the state.
Regardless of the language that the legislature and courts consider this program a form of “legal intern training,” even without that language, the prohibition on signing legal documents of record make is absolutely clear third year students are not considered to be practicing law.