Legal Marketing

Some lawyers are irked by attorney's fake bar associations

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A Louisville lawyer is creating some bar associations on paper that have no actual members.

One of entities created by personal injury lawyer Richard Breen is the Shelby County Bar Association, though it’s not actually in Shelby County, the Louisville Courier Journal reports.

The bar association is an assumed name of a business incorporated by Breen, and it’s said to be the entity that organized and sponsored his lawyer referral service.

Breen also registered assumed names for the Oldham County Bar Association, the Bullitt County Bar Association and the Jefferson County Bar Association.

Some lawyers take issue with the referral service’s link to a fake bar association, according to the article. “Whether or not it is unethical, it looks bad and it smells bad,” said Nathan Riggs, president of the 53rd Judicial Circuit Bar Association, with a jurisdiction that includes Shelby County.

Breen tells the Courier Journal that he won approval to operate a lawyer referral service that is sponsored by his Shelby County Bar Association from the Kentucky Bar Association’s attorney advertising commission. The commission did give its approval, but it was “contingent upon the information furnished not being false, deceptive, or misleading,” commission chairman Kerry Smith tells the newspaper.

Lawyers who subscribe to the lawyer referral service are charged $200 a year, plus $75 a month for referrals in their area of expertise, according to Breen’s promotional materials. So far, only one lawyer has signed up and no referrals have been made.

Breen says he still hopes to expand his referral service to “other counties in need.”

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