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State Bar of California News Release
For Immediate Release: Oct. 18, 2017
The State Bar of California issues fraud alert, warns the public to watch for and report potential legal fraud in response to recent fires
The State Bar of California is warning the public to watch out for and report potential fraud in response to the recent fires across the state. As a result of California’s ongoing fires, many people may wish to seek legal advice for various reasons, including insurance disputes, landlord tenant disputes, consumer fraud and more. California law prohibits lawyers or others acting on behalf of a lawyer from:
- Soliciting clients at an accident scene, at a hospital, or on the way to a hospital
- Soliciting clients who, due to their physical, emotional or mental state, may not be able to have reasonable judgment about the hiring of an attorney
- Seeking clients by mail unless the letter and envelope are clearly labeled as an advertisement
- Promising a particular outcome from the legal representation
In the wake of the fires, there is also the risk of victims being approached in person, by mail, email or other means, by people posing as attorneys. Consumers must carefully check that people offering legal services are legitimate and licensed to provide such services.
Before hiring an attorney, Californians should check the State Bar website for the status of an attorney’s license to practice law and whether they have any record of discipline.
State Bar’s additional resources for consumers:
- Legal resources for people impacted by the California fires
- What to know when you hire an attorney
- File a complaint for the unauthorized practice of law
- File an attorney misconduct complaint
- Look up an attorney by name or State Bar number.
- Legal aid organizations in California
The State Bar, which regulates the practice of law in California, cannot represent clients or refer them to a particular attorney. But in order to ensure public access to legal services, the State Bar of California has contacted local county bar associations to coordinate legal services for victims of California’s recent fires. People needing a lawyer can contact the State Bar of California to connect with a certified lawyer referral service at 415-538-2250 or send an email to LRS@calbar.ca.gov
The State Bar of California’s mission is to protect the public and includes the primary functions of licensing, regulation and discipline of attorneys; the advancement of the ethical and competent practice of law; and support of efforts for greater access to, and inclusion in, the legal system.
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