What a profession. As soon as a high media event gets coverage there is immediately a LAWYER SCAM to take advantage of the unwitting naive being victimized.
California Fraud alert issued for immigrants seeking legal help for child separation
A state agency is warning the public of fraudulent legal services being offered in response to separation of immigrant children from their parents and detentions along the U.S. southern border.
The State Bar of California's Office of Chief Trial Counsel issued a fraud alert earlier this week. Officials hope the alert serves as a reminder that immigrants and their families have rights to counsel and due process.
"Everyone in California deserves access to legal services," said Melanie Lawrence, interim chief trial counsel of the State Bar of California, in a prepared statement. "The recent federal immigration actions along the border, which have separated children from their parents, and the ongoing concerns faced by immigrant communities increase the potential that the unscrupulous will try and take advantage of those who are most in need."
Immigration consultants, as opposed to attorneys, are able to help people fill out paperwork, translate and submit forms to government agencies but can’t give legal advice or represent anyone in immigration court, the agency added.
Also, attorneys or accredited representatives must be registered with the Executive Office of Immigration Review before appearing in immigration court.
Immigration lawyers can practice immigration law in California even if they are licensed in another state.
The State Bar advises anyone in California to avoid fraud from attorneys and unlicensed legal providers, including non-attorneys using the title "notario," by taking some of the following steps:
- Ask for the attorney's full name and State Bar number. Before hiring the attorney or paying any sum of money, look up the attorney on the State Bar website (www.calbar.ca.gov), or the state in which they are licensed, to see if their license is active and whether they have any history of discipline. Consumers can also call the State Bar at 800-843-9053.
- Be wary of non-attorneys those who call themselves notarios; this is not authorized in California.
- Make sure to get your contract in writing as well as receipts for payments you make.
- Be wary if someone requires cash payments. If you must pay in cash, be sure to have a written receipt.
- Also be wary of those who threaten to report your immigration status if you do not pay them immediately.
- Keep a paper trail. If you don't have a bank account, use a cashier's check. If you've already made a payment, you are entitled to ask for an accounting of your bills.
California law prohibits lawyers or others acting on the behalf of a lawyer from:
- Promising a particular outcome from the legal representation.
- Lying about their ability to represent you in immigration court or act as your lawyer.
- Seeking clients by mail unless the letter and envelope are clearly labeled as an advertisement.
People should report fraud by notarios and other unauthorized practice of law to the State Bar of California.
Complaint forms are available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Russian. Citizenship is not required to file a complaint. The State Bar will not ask about immigration or citizenship status, officials said.
The State Bar, which regulates the practice of law in California, cannot represent clients or refer them to a particular attorney. People needing a lawyer can contact the State Bar of California to connect with a certified lawyer referral service at 415-538-2250 or email LRS@calbar.ca.gov
Source: The Californian