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  1. #1

    Angry Paralegal Service Playing Lawyer

    We needed legal advice and was forwarded by a reputable city agency to "legal aid". I say "legal aid" because that is how the place we contacted represented themselves. However, in actuality, they turned out to be a document processing services run by paralegals. When we called we asked for a lawyer. Our family situation was very complex (POA abuse by a sibling) and we definitely needed a lawyer. Instead of referring us to a lawyer the intake para immediately told us what forms we needed to fill out and that they would serve papers on the abusing sibling. He said he could have everything done by the next week which is what we needed. They charged an over the top fee. Due to the emergency of our family situation and considering that they were recommended by a reputable city agency we let our guards down and unfortunately hired them. We slowly discovered over the past three weeks that they were "playing lawyers" but yet kept claiming they were not allowed to give legal advice. Every week when we spoke with them, they would tell us how complex our family situation, tell us the legal avenue to take, which meant filling out more forms and more money of course. Finally we had enough. We found a real lawyer (on our own) and was told that information they filled out for guardianship papers were incorrect, the overpriced POA they provided was useless and we basically got fleeced. We refused to give full payment and they threatened to sue us because they felt they did all the paperwork we "asked for"; provided us a service and they had a signed notarized contract that we would make full payment (non-refundable) upon completion of paperwork. Our atty said we had grounds for a lawsuit but it would be pointless because it would be more troublesome to go through the motions and we wouldn't really gain anything from it. However, the whole thing just stinks! We were in a very vulnerable position and taken advantage of. Who should we report these people to? I would hate for another desperate family to have to go through the same thing. State is Texas

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    28,906

    Default Re: Paralegal Service Playing Lawyer

    If you believe they were in fact engaging in the practice of law, contact the Texas Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Paralegal Service Playing Lawyer

    Thank you for your advice. I did report them to the Texas UPL committee and they will investigate. In the mean time, these people still didn't send all of the paperwork that I requested. One thing lead to another until finally they contacted a debt collection agency. The debt collection agency said that the "legal aid" service was going to go through a lawsuit if I didn't pay. By this time, my family had just had it with these people and just said pay the money and let's move on. I contacted the debt collection agency and said we would give full payment if they send the paperwork. The agency called back their client and it was agreed they would send the remaining paperwork. When we got to the debt collection agency, they said paperwork was going to be emailed to their offices within 24 hours. I didn't want to leave the money until I got the paperwork but my brother just said leave it and let's go. The debt collection agency signed a paper that showed (1) they received full payment from our family and (2) all remaining paperwork would be forwarded in 24 hours. Once they got the email from their client they would email to me and then follow up with a hard copy mailed to my home. As of today, I have left several telephone messages and haven't received anything. I'm not sure which direction to go. My lawyer said small claims court because the amount is under $5,000 Also, if I sue the debt collection place for a refund would the judge think I'm trying to get out of paying a debt to their client? At this point, all I want is the paperwork promised me. Do I have any legal standing here?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    28,906

    Default Re: Paralegal Service Playing Lawyer

    You wouldn't sue for any money applied to a debt; you would sue, for example, for fees obtained by the agency for work they didn't perform or performed in an inadequate manner that rendered their product unusable.

  5. #5

    Talking Re: Paralegal Service Playing Lawyer

    Thank you soooo much!! Your suggestion is just what I needed to hear. Incidentally, I read info on the fair credit debt act that the debt collection agency where it says they can't use "scare" tactics to obtain debts. When the debt collector mentioned the word lawsuit my family and I just freaked! We are already embarking on what may be a nasty lawsuit with my sister and we really don't want to get involved with a side lawsuit.
    Again, thanks for your help.

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