The State Bar of California issued a fraud alert Nov. 15 for people affected by the state’s fires, warning them to watch out for unscrupulous lawyers and individuals posing as lawyers.
Lawyers’ licenses and whether attorneys have any record of misconduct can be checked at the bar’s website in the “Look Up a Lawyer” search box at http://www.calbar.ca.gov/.
The bar, headquartered in San Francisco, is an arm of the California Supreme Court and is in charge of licensing and regulating the state’s more than 250,000 attorneys.
The agency noted that California law prohibits lawyers from soliciting clients at accident scenes or hospitals or seeking clients who, because of their physical, emotional or mental state, may not have reasonable judgment about hiring an attorney.
The bar has also set up a hotline for Camp Fire survivors who need disaster-related legal advice but can’t afford a lawyer. The hotline number is 800-345-9497.
The hotline can provide fire survivors with assistance with obtaining government benefits; insurance claims; home repair contracts; replacement of lost wills and other legal documents; consumer protection matters; and mortgage and landlord-tenant problems.
The state bar is not able to refer members of the public to particular attorneys, but it can connect people with a certified lawyer referral service.
To be connected with a certified service, call the bar at 415-538-2250, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or consult the bar’s website at http://www.calbar.ca.gov/Public/Free-Legal-Information/Legal-Guides/Lawyer-Referral-Service.
People using such services are urged to make sure the service has a State Bar certification number.
Story originally published by Bay City News.