What is unlawful solicitation and barratry?
What is a barratry lawsuit? Pursuing legal action against an attorney for barratry means that an attorney violated the Texas lawyer solicitation rules by contacting you when they should not have, or using other people to contact you for them. If you did not invite contact and were contacted by either an attorney or someone you do not know on behalf of an attorney suggesting that you should hire them to take on your case, you may be owed compensation.
Continue reading: Reasons to file a lawsuit against an attorney
Advertising on the radio and television isn’t barratry or improper solicitation, because the prospective clients must still initiate contact based on their own interests. It is illegal for lawyers to pay non-lawyers, often people in particular industries, to refer potential clients to them. This is a practice called “case running”, and some more common positions for case runners are:
- Health care workers
- Tow truck drivers
- First responders
- Funeral directors
You should be suspicious of anyone offering you a recommendation out of the blue, especially if you do not know them personally and they are privy to information about your case.
The state of Texas allows the victims of barratry to collect a $10,000 penalty based on the illegal solicitous conversations or visits, in addition to the recouping of attorney fees, as well as any damages you incurred from the legal conduct.
How to tell if you were a victim of barratry
You may have been victimized if any of the circumstances listed above sound familiar to you. You should contact a legal malpractice attorney in Houston immediately if you were contacted by:
- A grief counseling service
- A “victims assistance program”
- A member of a church or congregation that you do not belong to
- Someone posing as a member of a consulate or civil rights organization
Oftentimes when you have been contacted by a case runner, they make promises about compensation for funeral services. While advances for client funeral services are themselves not illegal, it can be a sign that the attorney is attempting to persuade clients into hiring them for representation.
Even if you were solicited and did not hire the lawyer, you may still have the right to collect a $10,000 penalty. If you did hire the lawyer and the case is ongoing, you may have the right to void the contract and terminate the lawyer at no cost to you, depending on your case. If you hired the lawyer soliciting employment and the case is over, you may still be able to recoup legal fees, collect the $10,000 penalty, and get a refund for the illegal charges/fees they billed to your case.
Improper solicitation and barratry are clear signs of attorney malfeasance and misconduct, a type of legal malpractice.
What should you do if you were a victim of improper solicitation or barratry by an attorney?
If you believe you were a victim of improper solicitation or barratry, the first thing to do is record who contacted you and when. In as much detail as possible, record specifics like names, numbers, and times, and be prepared to provide details surrounding the event that the solicitors contacted you about and the contact itself — as it may be necessary to prove that you were not the one who initiated contact.
Then, call a lawyer that you can trust. Ross Sears II, one of the founding attorneys of Sears Crawford, has been suing lawyers for legal malpractice in Houston, TX for almost 30 years to protect clients like you from negligent attorneys. Passionate representation with a respect for justice is just a phone call away. Call Sears Crawford at (713) 223-3333 or contact us online for a free consultation.