Legal Ethics

Lawyers Claim Law Firm Fired Them for Ethical Objections

A California law firm known for its heavy advertising has been sued by two of its former attorneys who claim they were fired for objecting to unethical practices.

The Pacific Law Center in La Jolla estimates it has represented 10,000 clients in criminal, bankruptcy and personal injury cases since it opened in 2003. But the lawyers claimed in their lawsuits that the big client load was part of the problem, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. They also alleged that law clerks were allowed to sign up clients and gave out misleading information about potential results.

“There were a significant number of clients who didn’t get what they thought they bought,” Charles Luckman, one of the lawyers who sued, told the newspaper. “The best analogy I can give you is it was a law firm run like a used-car dealership.”

Luckman spoke to the Union-Tribune before he reached a settlement, which contained a confidentiality clause.

Another lawyer who sued and settled, Colin Cossio, said he had a huge caseload. “When you have 800 files, how can you give each client the attention they deserve?” he said in an interview before the confidential settlement.

The San Diego Better Business Bureau has downgraded the firm’s rating from “satisfactory” to “neutral” because of a large number of citizen complaints about “service issues.”

The law firm disputes there are any problems.

Ten current lawyers at the law firm said in unsolicited e-mails sent to the newspaper that their caseloads are manageable. Managing partner Robert Arentz said clerks gather facts but do not sign up clients without a lawyer present. He said the firm has lots of lawyers and clients, and it’s easy to find a few individuals with complaints.

“Overall, the majority of our clients are extremely happy with their representation,” he said.

A hat tip to the National Law Journal’s LA Legal Pad, which posted the story.

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