Business of Law

Judge will review undercover video in UPL case against Legal Docs by Me

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A New York judge will review undercover video in a case alleging Legal Docs by Me engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.

Judge James McClusky of Watertown said on Tuesday that he will review video recorded by investigators for the New York Attorney General’s office, report Time Warner Cable News, the Watertown Daily Times and WWNYTV. Legal Docs by Me has offices in New York and California, according to its website.

One investigator posed as a woman seeking a divorce during a visit to one of the company’s New York offices, according to the Watertown Daily Times, which obtained the transcript. An apparent employee who described himself as a paralegal advised the investigator how she could get her husband to agree to an uncontested divorce, the Daily Times says. The paralegal said the charge would be $210 for initial legal paperwork, plus $399 to complete the divorce. The sign in the window said a quick and easy divorce cost $399.

A lawyer representing Legal Docs by Me, Lee Kindlon, said the man who advised the undercover investigator was fired for failing to follow company training, according to the Daily Times.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman maintains the company misrepresented its services and pricing, provided bad information about legal transactions, and engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. Employees would tell customers they couldn’t provide legal advice, and then would go ahead and provide advice, Assistant Attorney General Deanna Nelson told WWNYTV.

Company CEO Derek Distenfield told WWNYTV that his company’s business model is legal and he hopes to resolve the case so Legal Docs by Me can continue operating.

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