I wrote about lawyer advertising hype and ways you can be fooled by inflammatory advertising in my book “Avoid Lawyer Advertising Hype. A Lawyers Method of Finding a Lawyer.” One section is devoted to telling you how to check the background and discipline record of the attorney you may hire. It is easy and every potential client should take advantage of this check. Here is an example of why that check is important.
The California State Bar has appointed a task force to investigate lawyers who may be exaggerating their loan modification abilities in advertising. The potential clients are desperate and need help to be sure. Unfortunately unscrupulous lawyers may prey on these people, encourage a “review fee” or advance on fees, and realistically, the victim has no chance of qualifying for a loan modification. The task force has recently caused the resignation of three lawyers for such behavior, and also notes the passage of new legislation that prohibits an attorney from charging an advance in such cases. You may not know that information if you were seeking a loan modification and listening to lawyer advertising.
Additionally, one attorney, James Parsa, California bar number 153389, advertised on major television spots for clients in the loan modification business. The task force began an investigation into his background and also his practices related to loan modification. Before the investigation could be completed, a background error was noted, specifically that this attorney had a prior conviction for molesting a child under 18 years of age. He apparently did not report this matter to the State Bar as is mandated by law. Many people do not realize that every attorney has to go through a disclosure, reporting and evaluation phase with the State Bar before a license is issued. When confronted with this evidence, he voluntarily resigned from the practice of law.
While an attorney may not practice law in this state without State Bar approval, what is to stop this person from continuing to solicit cases from unsuspecting clients? If they do not investigate his background and right to practice law, they may be duped into paying for services that cannot be delivered, or are delivered illegally. You don’t think this kind of thing happens? Think of the recent ponzi scam of Bernie Madoff that fleeced Billions from unsuspecting investors. It happens in law as well.
The State Bar is funded solely from attorney fees collected from attorneys and provides an arm to investigate and properly document when an attorney is not adhering to the laws of the state. The Bar will also investigate claims against an attorney for impropriety. It is a great source of information to examine as a consumer, and you should always avail yourself of this feature before retaining an attorney. It is free, on-line and provides up-to-date data on all attorneys in the State.
You can obtain a copy of my book at www.avoidlawyeradhype.com. In the second part of the book, I provide you with A lawyer’s Method of Finding a Lawyer. It outlines a number of resources that you can use to find and verify the qualifications of a lawyer in most fields of law. I help you identify the type of specialty, the pros and cons of using a lawyer referral service, and tips on interviewing and checking out lawyers. I encourage anyone that has never hired a lawyer to get a copy of the book, and let me show you what I do to find a lawyer in a field other than my practice.