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State Bar Issues Fraud Alert for Immigrants Seeking Legal Help Following Immigration Raids
By Sentinel News Service
Published February 28, 2018
The State Bar of California’s Office of Chief Trial Counsel issued the following fraud alert today to warn the public to watch out for and report potential legal fraud in response to the recent reports of immigration raids in the northern part of the state.

“Everyone in California deserves access to legal services. The recent federal immigration actions in California, uncertainty for DACA recipients, and the ongoing concerns faced by our immigrant communities increases the potential that unscrupulous people will seek to take advantage of those in the most dire need of legal help” said Steven Moawad, Chief Trial Counsel of the State Bar of California. “We want to be sure that all Californians know how access the legal services they need and to avoid and report fraud.”

 The State Bar advises Californians to avoid fraud from attorneys, notarios or other unlicensed legal providers by taking some of the following steps:

 

  • Ask for the attorney’s State Bar number. Look them up on the State Bar website (www.calbar.ca.gov) 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 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.
  • 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

If someone hires an immigration consultant rather than an attorney, it’s important to understand what an immigration consultant can and cannot do. Immigration consultants can help consumers fill out paperwork and translate and submit forms to government agencies, but they cannot give legal advice and cannot represent anyone in Immigration Court. Attorneys or accredited representatives must be registered with the Executive Office of Immigration Review before appearing in Immigration Court.) Immigration lawyers can be licensed in other states even if they practice immigration law in California. Still, any complaints about such attorneys will be forwarded to the correct state authorities.

Additional information

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.

Categories: Family | Local | News (Business) | Safety
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