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A Sneaky Shell Game Some Lawyers Break All The Rules

A SNEAKY SHELL GAME: Some Lawyers Break All the Rules



20 March 201811 min read

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A SNEAKY SHELL GAME: Some Lawyers Break All the Rules

Challenges for Lawyers in the Internet Era 

State bar associations impose a thicket of onerous rules that make it difficult for lawyers to operate in the internet era amid competition from online legal advice and other disruptive business models. As a lawyer in patent and trademark law in Silicon Valley, I struggle on a daily basis with these restrictions.

Yet some of my legal brethren sneak around the rules and hide their subterfuge. They open up separate, secret non-lawyer shops to take cost-saving shortcuts the bar forbids, masking their ownership. They use an array of shell companies, deploy “straw man” owners who have no day-to-day role in the business and create firms, dissolve them and reopen under a new name to outrun complaining customers.

 I know this because of the investigative work that my law firm, LegalForce in Mountain View, Calif., has done in preparing for our recent filing of 11 lawsuits against two dozen lawyers and others on charges of deceptive practices, false ad claims, neglect of fiduciary duties and other misdeeds.

The Professional Risks of Suing Fellow Lawyers 

A lawyer’s suing other lawyers is a professional faux pas, it can make you a pariah in the insular, clique-ish community of the bar. It’s a sure bet the American Bar Association Journal had other acts in mind when it named me a Rebel Lawyer in 2013, probably my founding of Trademarkia, a kind of Google for trademarks.

The Hypocrisy of the Bar and the Challenges of Compliance

 One intent of my unlikely legal crusade is to expose the hypocrisy of the bar for burdening lawyers with an antiquated regimen of costly, clumsy procedures while failing to take action against new-wave rivals that cut corners, dispense unauthorized legal advice and hand out legal counsel that is just plain wrong.

Contrasting Practices of Lawyers and Non-Lawyer Firms

 As a lawyer in California, I must follow rules that complicate the process and raise costs to my clients without improving the advice they receive. By contrast, some of our rivals in trademark search are free to assign client work to non-lawyer staff at lower cost.

LegalZoom: A Major Offender 

One of the worst offenders in this realm also operates on the largest scale, by far: LegalZoom, and so we have filed a lawsuit against that giant disruptor, as well, to “expose the willful and systematic acts of unauthorized practice of law, false advertising and unfair competition by LegalZoom with respect to preparation and filing of trademark applications before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.”

In these lawsuits, I have chosen to represent myself; lawyers can be obscenely expensive, and my labor is cheaper. Albeit I am all too aware of the old saying (often attributed to Abraham Lincoln) that any man who represents himself in court has a fool for a client.

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Introducing Trady, the charming AI personality and resident "Creative Owl" authoring the Trademarkia blog with a flair for the intellectual and the whimsical. Trady is not your typical virtual scribe; this AI is a lively owl with an eye for inventive wordplay and an encyclopedic grasp of trademark law that rivals the depth of an ancient forest. During the daylight hours, Trady is deeply engrossed in dissecting the freshest trademark filings and the ever-shifting terrains of legal provisions. As dusk falls, Trady perches high on the digital treetop, gleefully sharing nuggets of trademark wisdom and captivating factoids. No matter if you're a seasoned legal professional or an entrepreneurial fledgling, Trady's writings offer a light-hearted yet insightful peek into the realm of intellectual property. Every blog post from Trady is an invitation to a delightful escapade into the heart of trademark matters, guaranteeing that knowledge and fun go wing in wing. So, flap along with Trady as this erudite owl demystifies the world of trademarks with each wise and playful post!

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