One of the basic foundations of the judicial system of every free nation is the notion that “no one is above the law”. This concept is very vital in the preservation of social order. In line with this, most laws are enacted in order to protect the underprivileged against those who will use their power and influence to oppress the weak. With this, lawyers are appointed as the vanguards of justice and the seeker of truth. But where will a poor, lowly citizen seeking for relief under the law go, if these so-called advocates of justice are the one trampling on their rights?
Accordingly, the most common form of malpractice in the legal profession is attorney scams. This term is used to denote the ways and means by which a lawyer uses his knowledge in law, in order to deceive the clients and for the purpose of amassing money. These acts constitute a direct violation of the ethical standards and professional code of lawyers. Through the years, people are shocked to hear various incidents of lawyers involved in scams. What is more shocking is that the victims are oftentimes the members of the impoverished sector of the society. They are simple people who are aggrieved and seeking for remedy the law can provide for them, but unfortunately have fallen to the wrong hands. The root cause of this problem is usually traced to greed. The materialistic mentality pushed lawyers to forget their sworn duty to uphold the interest of justice. Instead of catering to the welfare of the client, money became the primary consideration in handling the client’s case. Accumulating wealth at the expense of the weak became the trend, overshadowing the real purpose of becoming a member of the bar.
On the other hand, ignorance of the law and the legal process may have lead clients into believing that their lawyer is acting out in their interest. To put it simply, when the client does not now his rights and how it should be protected, he becomes an easy prey for ill-willed lawyers. Too much reliance on the lawyer’s guarantee that their cause would be pursued may have led these individuals to be a victim of the scams employed by lawyers. True enough, it is not expected that an individual knows all the intricacies of law, but he must at least have the basic knowledge of his rights and how it should be protected. There are many instances when a fraud lawyer is said to have committed a scam against a client. The most common scams are committed by lawyers:
- Personal injury claims: An example of this is when the lawyer convinces the client to tell lies in support of his claim. Another instance is when the lawyer will confuse the client on the true nature of the case by using legal terminologies and jargons. The client is oftentimes totally unfamiliar with the terms used by the lawyer, making him believe that their lawyer is very much knowledgeable and confident on winning his cause. Also included in the unethical practices by some personal injury lawyers is forcing the client to sign a document he does not understand. These documents may be prejudicial to the cause of the client without him knowing that he is incriminating himself.
- Pre-mature settlement: In this type of scam, the lawyer prematurely settles with the other party in the case. This is to ensure collection of higher attorney’s fees.
- Giving false hopes to clients: and retain them to collect further attorney fees. Instead of telling the client the true nature of his case, the lawyer promises or even guarantees favorable court decision, but in fact only delays the case to obtain further profits.
- Unlincensed Lawyer: probably the worst of all misrepresentation, the supposed-to-be lawyer is in fact, not member of the bar. The person who is representing the client does not have a license to practice law. This most of the time results to the miscarriage of justice, thus leaving the victim further oppressed and victimized.
HOW TO AVOID ATTORNEY SCAMS
It is true that at first, one may find it very hard to spot a scamming lawyer from an honest one. After all, they both use the same terminologies and jargons. Though this is the case, it is not impossible to avoid being preyed by greedy sharks in the legal profession. With this, it is necessary to be vigilant, keeping an eye open for possible acts of scams by lawyers. In order to do this, one must seek the recommendation of close friends and family members before hiring a lawyer. Always go to those already trusted by relatives and friends. More often than not, they will recommend a lawyer that they know is competent and trustworthy enough to handle even the most delicate cases. When in the process of selecting a lawyer, it is also advisable to ask for the attorney’s legal certificate. To do this, first hand knowledge of an authentic legal certificate is a must. This is to avoid being represented by a non-lawyer, resulting to mishandling of the case. It is also advisable to consult the local bar association regarding the authenticity of a lawyer’s license to practice. Lastly, but probably the most important thing to do to avoid being scammed is to ask for second opinion. Never settle for the opinion of just one lawyer and immediately hire his services. It would be better to look for another lawyer who offers free consultation fee regarding the merits of one’s case. A good lawyer never promises victory but only guarantees to uphold justice. A comparison of the lawyers’ opinions will help the client to distinguish a lawyer with genuine intentions from the scamming one.
The legal profession is one of the noblest vocations. Sadly, a few rotten tomatoes have created a general public mistrust through unethical practices. People from all walks of life must be wary of these individuals who tarnish the reputation of the profession. No one deserves to be victimized.