I am 52 Years old male and prior business owner in the San Francisco Bay Area. In April of 2006 I was in a hurry to find an attorney due to time sensitive pending legal action. It was then that I signed up for LegalMatchs "Staff Attorney Assisted by Phone" Services for $99.95. This service was advertised by LegalMatch as the fastest way to find the right lawyer and " that my case will receive privileged attention ".
I had several of LegalMatch's contracted attorneys responding to my listing, but only one of them able to put time into the case right away. This "attorney" was an individual by the name of Michael Nelson, practicing out of Los Angeles. I signed a fee agreement with Mr. Nelson, send him a $2,500 retainer, and Mr. Nelson immediately went to work on the case. Mr. Nelson immediately negotiated with opposing attorney a settlement which allowed me to buy-out my then business partner for a sum of $30,000. I sent Mr. Nelson the $30,000 cashiers check to be deposited into his trust account, and after that I never heard from him again. I subsequently found out that Mr. Nelson was arrested by the FBI in a L.A. hotel. I was never able to recuperate that money from anyone.
Who was this Mr. Nelson that I was referred to by LegalMatch?- He was a fugitive on the run. Mr. Nelson arrived in California about 10 days before LegalMatch handed Mr. Nelson my case to review. When Mr. Nelson signed up with LegalMatch he used his real name "Michael Nelson", just as listed on the FBI wanted list and was able to bypass all of the screening processes that 'supposedly' are done by LegalMatch for attorneys they enlist. Mr. Nelson had supplied LegalMatch with a non-existing mailing address, with a non existing business location and with a totally fake professional background. Plus - the CA Bar Association assures me that there was nobody licensed to practice law in CA by the name of "Michael Meekal Nelson", before 2006 or thereafter. LegalMatch stated to me: "We did nothing wrong", and offered me $5,000 in exchange for signing a disclosure agreement. I did not sign the agreement, considering I lost $32,500. I asked for a more appropriate figure, but was turned down.
LegalMatch continuously failed to acknowledge any wrongdoing and made me feel as if this was my fault. I was told by LegalMatch's Ken Lemance that I should have confirmed that Mr. Nelson was a legitimate attorney and not a fraud before I signed him up as my attorney. Mr. Nelson was introduced into my home by LegalMatch as one of their pre-screened and verified attorneys. In LegalMatch's introduction of Mr. Nelson to me, they stated that they had verified, even showing a "verified logo" next to his name (see below), that Mr. Nelson was licensed to practice as an attorney in the State of California. I did not think that this was a necessary move on my part.
LegalMatch states on it's website in its Why LegalMatch Works section: " Our Lawyers are Pre-Screened; LegalMatch has demanding qualification standards for all of our member lawyers. We screen all potential LegalMatch lawyers, and if theyre not in good standing with the states bar association or are unable to meet our membership standards and requirements they cannot be a part of the LegalMatch network ".
LegalMatch is a very misleading company. Whatever they promise on their main website, they immediately wipe out with the small print in the user agreement. What really surprises me is that the Utah State Bar uses LegalMatch as their official attorney referral service. How can a company like LegalMatch, that seems to be sued on a weekly basis, has negative comments spread all over the Internet, all while LegalMatch's company founder is indicted on several charges, be the selected company for Utah's State Bar to handle their sensitive attorney referrals. Utah's State Bar enables LegalMatch with an outward appearance "stamp of approval" to continue victimizing unsuspecting clients with their scheme.
Here in CA the CA State Bar does not look upon LegalMatch as an Attorney Referral Service, and LegalMatch is in not regulated by the CA Bar Association. Here is a shortcut to the CA State Bar's " Certified lawyer referral service ". The California State Bar website states: " Be sure that the (attorney referral) service is certified by the State Bar. Lawyer referral services which are certified follow certain rules which will protect you ". I found out the hard way. When I complained to the Sate Bar that Mr. Nelson was referred to me by a shady attorney referral service, I was told that LegalMatch is not a certified referral service and therefore I am out of luck. The CA Bar Association told me that LegalMatch is not considered and attorney referral service at all, but is officially considered an Advertising Company, and nothing else. Quite to the contrary as to what LegalMatch wants you to believe on their website. If you read the fine print of LegalMatch's User Agreement, you will find confirmation that LegalMatch is built on an "advertising" business model.
And when I applied for financial help to the CA State Bar's "Client Security Fund", which provides financial retribution to people that have lost money to an unethical CA attorney, I was told that Mr. Nelson never was a licensed CA attorney and therefore they would not help me.
Lesson: If you want any leverage should something go wrong = DO NOT USE LegalMatch.
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