The concept of Attorney Debt Settlement could refer to a couple of different business models. If there is an actual law firm that is performing the services, and you have retained an attorney (licensed in the State where you live) that you consulted with prior to engaging the firm, and this attorney is available to you throughout the process for the fees you have agreed to pay him or her, then you have likely simply engaged in a traditional attorney client relationship. This is no different than hiring an attorney for a divorce, or any other type of common legal matter.
However, there are many unscrupulous law firms throughout the nation that have basically lent their names to debt settlement companies in order to circumvent many state laws regulating debt settlement. This is known as the “attorney model” and it is rampant in the world of debt settlement. In summary, the way such an attorney model debt settlement company operates is as follows:
A company that was once performing debt settlement without the assistance of an attorney convinces an attorney or law firm to put its name on the debt settlement contract as if the potential client were engaging a law firm for debt settlement;
The debt settlement company typically “sells” the client the program and performs all debt settlement services;
The law firm or attorney has little to no part in the agreed upon services. In fact, most of the time, the debt settlement client never even speaks to the attorney;
If the debt settlement client is sued, which is highly likely in a typical thirty-six to forty-eight month program, the law firm WILL NOT represent the client in a court of law. Most of the time, the law firm does not even employ an attorney licensed in the state where the client is located.
The above list is simply a demonstration of how the most common “attorney model” debt settlement companies operate. Of course, there are law firms that operate within the confines of both state and federal law and you must consult a consumer law attorney to find out if you have a potential claim against such a company.Ohio Revised Code 4710 prohibits a debt settlement company from, among other requirements, charging excessive fees. Most debt settlement companies employing the “attorney model” charge far more than the fees permitted by ORC 4710. If you are able to prove the company was not performing legal services and the law firm listed on the account was simply a name on a contract, you could be entitled to statutory damages, triple the actual damages, attorney fees, punitive damages, and possibly an injunction against the debt settlement company from performing its services in the State of Ohio.