On Monday, I wrote a discontinuation letter to a young and naive commercial business developer who worked for an entrepreneur who used our company name to market his business and incorrectly showed that we were part of a "team". Already aggravated, I had to interrupt text messages from public adjusters and asked if public adjusters could request claims from lawyers.
The answer is "no." Public regulators cannot directly or indirectly seek claims from lawyers. It is criminal to conspire to do so in all states 1 and unethical for lawyers in all states to allow this to happen.
I finished the draft letter to the business development lawyer. It is also wrong to use anyone for profit without permission. Entrepreneurs can also not market to lawyers. But why did my cell phone explode with these text questions?
I found out that public adjusters asked me this question because Becker Poliakoff, a leading condominium company, announced that it had "launched" its own public adjustment company, Association Adjusting, which is handled by the public adjuster. Joe Connelly and Becker's website said:
Becker is pleased to announce the launch of Association Adjusting, the only public adjustment company that exclusively serves community associations throughout Florida.
Almost every community association will experience a significant claim at some point in its lifetime. In addition to windstorms, fires and floods, there are daily water leaks that volunteer boards and managers have to deal with. Although it is reasonable to believe that after years of compulsory insurance premiums, your damages will be paid quickly and in full, the reality is often quite different.
I know two other cases of law firms that start public adaptations of companies in the last 25 years. Both law firms eventually closed them. The ethical concerns about unethical solicitation, fee sharing, not practicing law when retained to engage in non-legal services and other legal ethical considerations, and statutory consequences for public adjustment are quite difficult to deal with and not break.
I have been told that it is perfectly legal for a law firm to own a publicly adapted law firm. Becker is a good company and has a long-standing reputation in the legal community. I'm sure they have internal protections to prevent something unethical from happening. But they will have their work cut off.
Many suggest that general adaptation is a recent exception to the application of the law, except in a few states where the legal bar still prevents general adaptation from being practiced. All you have to do is read my post yesterday, Warning! Public judges considering working in Louisiana should first read Earl Carr's case about what the Louisiana Bar will do. Historically, there is nothing wrong with lawyers handling and negotiating property insurance claims.
What are some examples of misconduct and fee sharing behavior?
How about the Strems Law Firm example? 2 We just agreed to help policyholders on a pro bono basis because Strems lawyers and disrespectful public adjusters violate criminal law when claiming their insurance claims. The family hired Strems because the public adjusters directly requested them and then provided a lawyer's agreement to sign ̵
Every time a lawyer promises to give something of monetary value to a non-lawyer to get clients, it's wrong. Examples of this are giving public adjusters discounts for office space or agreeing to pay the public adjusters advertising costs. People do not pay someone else's advertising and marketing costs or give rent discounts below market value to another of their kindness. This goes beyond promoting a person's skill and knowledge, buying that person's efforts to solicit potential customers.
Law firms cannot pay public adjusters to refer clients to a lawyer. They can not do it in any way either. An example of this was a law firm that I reported to the New Jersey and Texas Bar Associations because public supporters told me they were paid $ 500 for referrals to residential clients and $ 1,500 for referrals to commercial clients. I told the public prosecutors to stop and get a criminal lawyer. The Texas law firm that did this was sued in a lawsuit.
I want to applaud the Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters and their leadership for resisting these practices. They contacted me and asked what they could do to stop any of this. They want to get rid of the "bad apples" in their profession.
They have already done the first right – publicly condemning these methods. The other is education. In an article, Illegal solicitation is taken very seriously Florida Bar noted the problem and suggested that consumer education can help:
In a report to the board last December, Cohen said the committee has heard of many examples on improper solicitation, including direct action against already represented clients, victims of personal injury contacted, use of "runners" or other third parties to approach potential clients or their families, and charges in criminal, commercial and business cases
Cohen told for the board that one problem was the lawyers' indifference and lack of knowledge from consumers about incorrect practice, which pursues prosecution according to the bar association.
Education is something Merlin Law Group does all the time and we do it through this blog. I once said to public adjuster in a speech that if you find a lawyer who directly requests, call me and I will make the lawyer the lawyer. Former FAPIA board member Mark Boardman did just that by calling me with a complaint about a lawyer knocking on a door requesting property insurance. I followed up and made a complaint to the bar. The Florida Bar revoked the attorney's license to practice law.
Lawyers have an ethical duty to turn other lawyers into the lawyer to do these unethical things. It is unethical for a lawyer not to do so. We must "figure out" lawyers, otherwise we may be subject to discipline for not doing so.
So if you have evidence of public prosecutors or lawyers doing this, you now know what you can do – report perpetrators. If you're scared, you can call me. Even though I'm not the moral police, I hate cheating and I'm not afraid to report anyone doing it.
We must do something about this behavior. Most potential criminals are afraid of breaking the law if they know they will get caught. It prevents the wrong behavior from ever happening. "Indifference" will end very quickly if those who make mistakes know that someone can hand them in and that they can expect to go to jail.
I will discuss these topics and Hurricane Laura for about 15 minutes on Chip at 2 this afternoon.
Thought for the day
Technological development is like an ax in the hands of a pathological criminal.
] 1 See, e.g. Fla. State. §877.02 Request for legal services or holders for them .