Unauthorized Practice of Law Claim
Stoll Berne shareholders Keith Dubanevich and Josh Ross, together with Portland attorney Diane Sykes, recently represented the Oregon State Bar in an action against a Florida lawyer and his associates who targeted Oregon immigrants. The Florida lawyer aggressively advertised on Spanish-language radio and television to draw potential clients to “immigration clinics,” at which the attendees were promised to meet a lawyer who could help with immigration status. Victims of the scheme reported that they rarely, and in many instances never, saw or spoke to a licensed lawyer at the clinics and that often non-lawyer “paralegals” conducted intakes, negotiated fee agreements, and gave substantive advice regarding immigration issues. Victims paid significant fees based on the representations that the Florida lawyer’s firm would file immigration papers and secure the victims’ rights. In virtually all cases little to no work was performed for the victims, whose complaints and demands for refunds went unanswered. Stoll Berne and Diane Sykes filed the lawsuit to stop the unauthorized practice of law. On December 7, 2018, a Multnomah County Judge signed a General Judgment by Default in favor of the Oregon State Bar, including a Money Award in excess of $150,000—the largest judgment ever in an unauthorized practice of law case brought by the Oregon State Bar.