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When an Attorney Comes Calling… Uninvited.
In Texas, it is not only unethical, but also illegal for an attorney to solicit a client for the purpose of rendering legal services. The State Bar of Texas Disciplinary Rules and the Texas Penal Code are just two of the references that govern this type of lawyer misconduct. Sadly, some in the profession disobey the rules and violate the law, simply motivated by pure greed. The Carse Law Firm sues lawyers who directly solicit people for the purpose of providing legal services, as well as those lawyers’ employees, agents and anyone else involved with them in their conspiracy.
When an attorney directly solicits clients, it is known as barratry. Lawyers who commit barratry prey on those they seek to represent. Typically this includes accident victims and family members of people who are severely injured or killed. Preying on accident victims when the people involved are most vulnerable is unconscionable and it is a crime.
Every lawyer in Texas knows that barratry is illegal. Those that practice barratry actually damage the reputation of ethical lawyers and corrupt the legal system. If someone has called you, emailed you, or appeared at your home, hospital, funeral home or office uninvited and attempted to secure your agreement to provide legal services, they are engaged in conduct that Texas law forbids.
TEXAS PENAL CODE:
CHAPTER 38. OBSTRUCTING GOVERNMENTAL OPERATION
- 38.12. BARRATRY AND SOLICITATION OF PROFESSIONAL EMPLOYMENT.
(a) A person commits an offense if, with intent to obtain an economic benefit the person:
(1) knowingly institutes a suit or claim that the person has not been authorized to pursue;
(2) solicits employment, either in person or by telephone, for himself or for another;
(3) pays, gives, or advances or offers to pay, give, or advance to a prospective client money or anything of value to obtain employment as a professional from the prospective client;
(4) pays or gives or offers to pay or give a person money or anything of value to solicit employment;
(5) pays or gives or offers to pay or give a family member of a prospective client money or anything of value to solicit employment; or
(6) accepts or agrees to accept money or anything of value to solicit employment.
(b) A person commits an offense if the person:
(1) knowingly finances the commission of an offense under Subsection (a);
(2) invests funds the person knows or believes are intended to further the commission of an offense under Subsection (a); or
(3) is a professional who knowingly accepts employment within the scope of the person’s license, registration, or certification that results from the solicitation of employment in violation of Subsection (a).
(c) It is an exception to prosecution under Subsection (a) or (b) that the person’s conduct is authorized by the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct or any rule of court.
(d) A person commits an offense if the person:
(1) is an attorney, chiropractor, physician, surgeon, or private investigator licensed to practice in this state or any person licensed, certified, or registered by a health care regulatory agency of this state;
(2) with the intent to obtain professional employment for himself or for another, sends or knowingly permits to be sent to an individual who has not sought the person’s employment, legal representation, advice, or care a written communication that:
(A) concerns an action for personal injury or wrongful death or otherwise relates to an accident or disaster involving the person to whom the communication is addressed or a relative of that person and that was mailed before the 31st day after the date on which the accident or disaster occurred;
(B) concerns a specific matter and relates to legal representation and the person knows or reasonably should know that the person to whom the communication is directed is represented by a lawyer in the matter;
(C) concerns an arrest of or issuance of a summons to the person to whom the communication is addressed or a relative of that person and that was mailed before the 31st day after the date on which the arrest or issuance of the summons occurred;
(D) concerns a lawsuit of any kind, including an action for divorce, in which the person to whom the communication is addressed is a defendant or a relative of that person, unless the lawsuit in which the person is named as a defendant has been on file for more than 31 days before the date on which the communication was mailed;
(E) is sent or permitted to be sent by a person who knows or reasonably should know that the injured person or relative of the injured person has indicated a desire not to be contacted by or receive communications concerning employment;
(F) involves coercion, duress, fraud, overreaching, harassment, intimidation, or undue influence; or
(G) contains a false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive, or unfair statement or claim.
(e) For purposes of Subsection (d)(2)(E), a desire not to be contacted is presumed if an accident report reflects that such an indication has been made by an injured person or that person’s relative.
(f) An offense under Subsection (a) or (b) is a felony of the third degree.
(g) Except as provided by Subsection (h), an offense under Subsection (d) is a Class A misdemeanor.
(h) An offense under Subsection (d) is a felony of the third degree if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the defendant has previously been convicted under Subsection (d).
(i) Final conviction of felony barratry is a serious crime for all purposes and acts, specifically including the State Bar Rules and the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure.
These acts are in direct violation of Texas Government Code § 82.0651 and each lawyer, agent, employee and co-conspirator are liable for damages of up to an award of $10,000.00 as set forth by the Legislature as a penalty, plus actual damages in an amount to be determined by the trier of fact, and reasonable and necessary attorneys’ fees.
If you believe that you or a family member has been the victim of an unscrupulous and unethical lawyer directly attempting to solicit you for the purpose of offering legal services call the attorneys at the Carse Law Firm.