Legal Ethics

Lawyer agrees to disbarment for abdicating law firm to nonlawyers

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A San Diego lawyer has agreed to be disbarred for allowing a nonlawyer to open and operate a law firm in his name that offered credit-repair services.

Ernest George Georggin, 68, agreed to give up his law license and to pay $90,000 in restitution, plus interest, to 25 former clients of the law firm who filed complaints, according to a California State Bar press release, U-T San Diego and the Metropolitan News-Enterprise.

According to a stipulation of facts (PDF), Georggin formed Georggin Law with nonlawyer Eric Phillips in 2010 and “completely abdicated” the firm to Phillips and other nonlawyers. Georggin collected a salary, but Phillips managed the firm.

Nonlawyers decided which new clients to accept, set legal fees and used a stamp with Georggin’s signature to conduct legal business, the stipulation says.

Another lawyer did work at the firm, but he died on May 30, shortly before Georggin closed the firm and took custody of about 650 client files, the stipulation says. He has not returned fees to any of those clients, according to the stipulation.

Georggin admitted to violations that include aiding a nonlawyer in the unauthorized practice of law, sharing fees with a nonlawyer, and failing to perform legal services of value. He has been placed on inactive status pending California Supreme Court review of the stipulated disbarment.

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