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The Debt Settlement “Attorney Model”
Avoid Suspicious Law Firms & Risky Debt Relief Solutions
Some organizations may claim to be law firms yet still use a dishonest debt relief business model. LHA thinks you deserve better.
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What’s the Debt Settlement or “Attorney Model”?
Since debt settlement companies cannot legally operate in many states, some law firms lend their names to these companies to circumvent state laws. This is the “attorney model,” and it is rampant in the world of debt settlement.
An attorney model debt settlement law firm operates as follows:
- A company convinces a law firm to put its name on the debt settlement contract as if the potential client were engaging the law firm for debt settlement.
- The company “sells” the client the program and performs all debt settlement services.
- The law firm has little or no part in the agreed-upon services. In fact, most debt settlement clients never even speak to the attorney.
- If the client is sued, which is highly likely in a typical program, the law firm WILL NOT represent the client in court. Most of the time, the law firm does not even employ an attorney licensed in the state where the client is located.
This debt settlement attorney model makes clients think they are working with someone who knows the law and can help them through any debt issue. However, the company doing the actual debt settlement work is not a law firm and cannot represent you when you inevitably get sued by a creditor.
Signs a Company Is Using the Lawyer Model
When you receive marketing material from debt settlement companies, be on the lookout for those that claim they are collaborating with a law firm. They may list a law firm or specific attorney names. Since there are legitimate law firms that operate within the confines of both state and federal laws, you should do some research.
Google the Law Firm
If the law firm comes up, closely look at their website. Does it look legitimate? Does it indicate that they handle debt management of all kinds, not just debt settlement? Make sure they are a full-service consumer law firm, not just a law firm fronting for the debt settlement company.
Is the Attorney Licensed?
Find names of specific attorneys on the marketing materials or the law firm’s website. Then, you can ensure they are licensed in your state. In Ohio, you can search for licensed lawyers through an Attorney Directory Search on the Supreme Court of Ohio website. This site will tell you if they’re licensed and whether they have any discipline history or administrative sanctions, or suspensions. If they do have adverse history, it’s not a good idea to work with them.
Oftentimes, the debt settlement company will have a list of “affiliate” attorneys, one of which may be licensed in Ohio. This is not the same as the company or law firm employing an attorney licensed in the State of Ohio who has the ability to represent you should you get sued by a creditor.
Look at Reviews
Focus on any low ratings and see if anyone is calling them “scammers.” You can also research them on the Better Business Bureau website to find out if they have any claims against them.
Find Out About All of Their Fees
Ohio Revised Code 4710 prohibits debt settlement companies from, among other things, charging excessive fees. Using the attorney model, most debt settlement companies charge far more than the fees permitted by ORC 4710.
If you can prove the company was not performing legal services and the law firm listed was simply a name on a contract, you could be entitled to damages. Your best option is to work with a credible and licensed Ohio debt relief lawyer with LHA.
Not Just Any Debt Attorney
As a founding partner at LHA, Jeremiah E. Heck is a leader in consumer law. He knows how to identify deceptive debt companies and can help find a program that lets you catch your breath.
Why Use a Licensed Debt Lawyer?
Debt settlement companies can’t help you with your entire financial picture. While debt settlement might work for some, there are other options for debt relief.
Learn All Your Options
When you work with an actual licensed and experienced debt relief attorney, you will find out which options are best for you. Sometimes debt settlement is the clear choice, but other situations may call for a lawsuit or filing for bankruptcy.
At LHA, you won’t be pressured into one path. Instead, you can choose one that leads to long-term success.
Aggressive & Effective Legal Representation
A debt settlement company or unlicensed lawyers cannot represent you in court if a creditor sues you. In most cases, a creditor will file a lawsuit if you engage in the lengthy debt settlement programs recommended by these companies. When that happens, you will have to find an actual lawyer.
LHA lets you enter a debt plan with confidence since you’re supported by experienced consumer lawyers who can fight for you in court.
Protect Your Rights
State and federal laws extend your rights as a consumer, even if you owe people and companies money. A knowledgeable and legitimate Ohio lawyer will review your particular situation and how you’ve been treated. You may be entitled to compensation for unfair and illegal treatment.