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Looking for a Consumer Protection Attorney? Consumers Beware

Choosing the Wrong “Consumer Advocate” Could be more stressful than Debt Collector Harassment

Some of the attorneys label themselves as consumer protection attorneys  or “Consumer Advocates”, once exposed, are really sheep in wolves clothing.  It isn’t uncommon for me to encounter debt collectors that are hesitant to settle my client’s cases because of the multitude of (self proclaimed) “consumer protection” attorneys that seemingly devote their time to use their client’s cases to simply line their pocket.  When I was on the other side defending debt collectors, one of the main reason I switched sides was because of my disgust of so called “consumer advocates” or “Consumer Protection” Attorneys that manipulated the system, put their interests above their clients, and attempted to extort money from collection agencies that had done nothing wrong.  When I switched sides to defending collection agencies, I made the promise that I would never become one of those “Consumer Protection” attorneys.  If you ask my colleagues on the other side of the table (debt collection attorneys), the one thing I imagine every one of them would say is that I am fair, my valuation of the case is always reasonable, and if they can show that my client’s case isn’t as strong as I once thought I will either reduce my demand (after consulting with my client) or simply withdraw from representing them (if the consumer has misled me).  I recently published an article on www.avvo.com about how to choose a FDCPA attorney that is truly a consumer advocate and truly is a Consumer Protection Attorney.  You may find that article here.

When I first started defending consumers, I started Fair Debt Helpers (I NO LONGER WORK THERE SO DO NOT CLICK ON THAT LINK).  At that time, there were only a few of us consumer protection attorneys / consumer advocates that focused on the FDCPA.  I remember in 2007 attending a NACA conference and the main topics being consumer protection, how to help people, how to make debt collectors pay for their harassment, etc.  Over the years, the conferences (Not necessarily at NACA) have turned into “consumer protection” conventions into how to “Get Clients“, “How to Effectively Market“, “Getting The Most Bang for Your Buck“, “How to Monetize the Clients that come through your Door“, and general lessons about (and I am generalizing here) how to (one could say) drag an FDCPA case out to bill more attorney fees in the case.  While, (much like the wolves that are cloaked as Consumer Protection Attorneys), the sessions are cloaked by titles about how to properly prosecute the case, how to conduct great discovery, etc.  In my opinion, unless opposing counsel is being unreasonable, there is no reason to drag out FDCPA cases out for months and months.  The only person who wins by doing that is the “Consumer Protection” attorney while he laughs all of the way to the bank for all the “fees” he earned in dragging a case out.  If the client is going to get $x, I want to get them that amount AS SOON AS POSSIBLE – not wait to get the client $x until I bill tens of thousands of dollars in fees.  To me – using clients and improperly dragging cases out simply as means to an end of billing, billing, billing, is despicable and I am working on a new website that will expose these attorneys.

(1) These “consumer protection” attorneys are making my job as a real consumer protection attorney more difficult.  I try to put money in my client’s pockets as soon as I can.  My philosophy is that in drawn out litigation the only parties that win are the attorneys.  Since the FDCPA requires the debt collector that violated the FDCPA to pay your attorney fees, some “consumer protection” attorneys take a case that really is worth $1,000 to the consumer and $1,000 in fees to the attorney and they bill the heck out of it.  These “consumer protection” attorneys view the FDCPA as a way to take a “weak case” refuse to settle for a reasonable amount, and then bill bill bill hoping that they will still eventually get the $1,000 to the consumer (which they frequently don’t) and then line their pockets with the THOUSANDS of dollars they billed on a case.  THIS IS NOT CONSUMER PROTECTION – THIS IS USING SOMEONE’S PAIN, SOMEONE’S FEAR TO THEIR ADVANTAGE.  These “Consumer Protection” attorneys have given the rest of us a bad name – and now defense counsel are more skeptical when the real consumer protection attorneys reach out to them to resolve a case.

(2) These “Consumer Protection” attorneys that love to “bill bill bill” in my opinion are frequently not representing their clients best interest.  Without going into unnecessary detail, I am fairly certain that some “consumer protection” attorneys are in the habit of rejecting settlement offers without consulting with his clients.  Under ABA Model Rule 1.2, in conjunction with other Rules, attorneys have a duty to disclose to their clients when settlement offers are made and must “…abide by a client’s decision to settle a matter“. Source  How can a lawyer abide by a client’s decision to settle a matter if he/she does’t even advise the client that they received a settlement offer?  I want to do everything I can to keep unscrupulous attorneys from retaining clients and taking advantage of them.  The public awareness campaign I am working on might just help expose these attorneys!

Consumers Beware – There are many REAL Consumer Protection attorneys to choose from that practice in the Jurisdictions across the UNITED STATES that truly will have your interests in mind.  Although I would love to represent you (assuming I am licensed in your district), as Lifetime Debt Solutions’ main website says, “While we would love to be THE law firm to help you get out of debt, it is much more important to us that you do SOMETHING rather than which firm you use to do it“. Source.  Although we still hold true to that statement, I think its time for us to update that with “While we would love to be THE law firm to help you get out of debt it is much more important to us, assuming the law firm is reputable, that you do SOMETHING rather than which firm you use to do it.  

“If I were a consumer seeking competent legal counsel, as my article stated weeks ago,

my number one “rule” is to find an attorney that focuses on the FDCPA.”

Ask your attorney at the outset – “How long do you think it will take to put cash in my pocket?”  If the answer to that question doesn’t make you happy, perhaps its about time to end that conversation and find another attorney.

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