California has legions of attorneys. Their client advocacy spans every conceivable practice area, and they are present and active in every corner of the state.
Given the scores of thousands of practicing lawyers, it stands to reason that their collective range of competency varies greatly and across a wide continuum. Some attorneys are paragons of skill and virtue, painstakingly promoting their clients’ best interests at every moment. Understandably, every California resident with a legal need wants one of those.
Unfortunately, they can be hard to duly identify and retain. Public disciplinary records from the State Bar of California and Supreme Court amply spotlight that good attorneys across the state are supplemented by others not so routinely fixated on optimal client outcomes.
Consider this story, for instance, involving one Southern California attorney. That practitioner was disbarred in early 2017 for what one media account terms “a fraudulent loan scheme.” That matter is now under the purview of California prosecutors, who are pursuing it as a criminal offense.
Such an outcome to a legal career might reasonably seem to stop it in its tracks, effectively and forever.
That didn’t turn out to be the case, though. The disbarred attorney simply began advertising himself in a new locale (Ventura County) and, notably, as an entirely different practitioner.
That is, he engaged in identity theft, assuming a new persona as an already existing attorney. Authorities say that he drafted/filed client documents and actually made appearances in court for nearly a year under his stolen identify.
He now faces a broad array of criminal charges, ranging from ID theft and unauthorized legal practice to false personation and burglary.
Obviously, the above story chronicles outlier behavior to a marked degree.
It is also instructive, though, especially since similarly egregious conduct routinely yields license suspension and disbarment for select bad-faith California attorneys. A bottom-line takeaway for would-be legal clients is the admonition to conscientiously check the qualifications and practice history of retained counsel through appropriate channels, including the State Bar.
And contact a proven malpractice law firm if you have any questions or concerns about your lawyer’s background or what you believe is deficient performance in your legal matter.