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Can this be consider scam?

Garden Grove, CA |
Filed under: Professional ethics

i was trying to seek an attorney around me area for my case and when i call them i dont want to give out my real name to i told them a fake name to discuss about the problem with them, can that be consider scam or anything? since i dont want to give out my personal info yet.

Attorney Answers 5

Posted

I disagree here. If a potential client wants to give a fake name at the consultation stage that is their choice. In Europe and elsewhere they do have KYE (Know Your Client) laws requiring positive ID and they also have watered down confidentiality rules. I can think of many legitimate reasons why someone may not want to release their name.

This is not legal advice but a general comment on society. International Law 24/7 hotline +1-202-318-2406 - Dr. Jonathan Levy, PhD calls or emails usually returned within 24 hours.

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Marilynn Mika Spencer

Marilynn Mika Spencer

Posted

While giving a false name may not be against any rule or law, that doesn't mean it's okay or a good idea. California attorneys are subject to Bar discipline and sanctions if we do not ensure that every case we file conforms to ethical requirements, including ensuring that the case is pursued for a proper purpose (not to harass, etc.). Many attorneys engage in due diligence as part of their investigation before filing. We cannot determine whether the potential client or client is a vexatious litigant or has told us the truth if we don't know who the client is. Depending on the case, we cannot determine venue without confirming the address. Parties have a constitutional right to know who their opponents are. California only allows DOE parties in very limited circumstances, generally involving sexual abuse, rape, or children. Filing a pleading on behalf of a client using an assumed name could be viewed as an attempt to circumvent the Rules of Court and local rules, and therefore be deemed unethical. And we attorneys cannot protect ourselves for the business part of the relationship if we do not know who the client is. For example, my office sends non-retention letters to every potential client we speak with but do not accept as a client. Given what I know of the California Bar, I would not be certain it would accept the validity of a non-retention letter to a potential client with an incorrect name, even if the potential client lied. And suppose a client using a false name disappears during the case? How do I search for that client to end the attorney-client relationship, make sure the client is okay, obtain a declaration for the court regarding client unavailability, etc. if I don't even know who the client is? On another level, supposed the client runs up a bill for costs or fees and an attorney chooses to sue to collect? No way to do that effectively without knowing who the client is.

Jonathan H Levy

Jonathan H Levy

Posted

Know Your Client is optional in California. If you want to demand positive ID from your clients that is your right.

Posted

I don't understand why you don't want to use your real name. Perhaps you should simply disclose to the attorney the fact that you'd rather not identify yourself, instead of using a fake name. Anyway, if you are disclosing the facts of your case to attorneys on the phone, those facts will be considered client confidences. I really encourage you to discuss your confidentiality concerns with counsel as part of these initial conversations, let the lawyer explain how your conversation will be protected from further disclosure and refrain from using a fake identity.

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Asker

Posted

But im not that attorney client yet... I was just trying to look for one

Stephen Joseph Cipolla

Stephen Joseph Cipolla

Posted

Understood. Nonetheless, your conversation with counsel should still be held in confidence by the attorneys with whom you speak. And, you should be careful only to disclose your issue in general terms until you feel comfortable with the lawyer. But, that applies regardless of whether you identify yourself. I still think you should disclose to the attorney your concerns about identifying yourself rather than fake your identity. It's a lot easier than hiring a lawyer and then telling him / her that you were lying about your name.

Jonathan H Levy

Jonathan H Levy

Posted

As long as the client is not using the attorney to commit a crime; I don't see any reason why the client can't use a pseudonym throughout the relationship? I don't think California has any requirement attorneys must positively ID their clients?

Marilynn Mika Spencer

Marilynn Mika Spencer

Posted

Mr. Levy: Please see my response beneath your separate answer to the question.

Stephen Joseph Cipolla

Stephen Joseph Cipolla

Posted

Mr Levy, you'll note that I didn't tell the questioner that he / she couldn't use a fake name, just that there are some prudential reasons that it may not be necessary and may not be a good way to vet counsel. On balance, I would be very hesitant to have an attorney client relationship who started our contacts with a phony identity.

Jonathan H Levy

Jonathan H Levy

Posted

Client calls and says they are John Doe and asks a few questions; I don't have a problem with that.

Stephen Joseph Cipolla

Stephen Joseph Cipolla

Posted

OK. I generally offer 30 minute consults for free. But, if the caller is John Doe, no deal. We have different approaches. I would be uncomfortable answering a potential client's questions if he /she was named John Doe. It would really make me feel that this person had no intention of ever retaining me. But, I can see your point.

Posted

Attorneys are required by law to keep all information about clients and potential clients confidential. I don't know why you are reluctant to give you real name to prospective attorneys, but lying about your name is not a scam. A scam is a deliberate attempt to take advantage of others.

One consequence of lying about your name is that when you find an attorney you like, he or she may not be willing to accept you as a client because of your lie. This would probably send up a red flag that the potential client may be extraordinarily secretive and difficult to work with. Of course, I don't know our legal issue so perhaps it makes sense under your circumstances. However, even assuming it is a criminal case, no attorney wants a client who is unnecessarily hard to work with.

twitter.com/MikaSpencer *** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis. ***

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Ricardo Antonio Perez

Ricardo Antonio Perez

Posted

"No attorney wants a client who is unnecessarily hard to work with." Amen to that!

Asker

Posted

what does red flag actually do?

Marilynn Mika Spencer

Marilynn Mika Spencer

Posted

It's an idiom A red flag is a warning.

Posted

Both my colleagues give good and correct answers.
If someone did that with me, I would decline to take them on as a client.

The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advice" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also avvo.com terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.

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6 comments

Asker

Posted

What Asker is doing is dishonest and he has nothing to gain by giving fake name to his potential lawyer. If he doesn't want to give name for security/confidential reason, then he should say so. There are far more crooked paralegals/phone agents/doctors/lawyers than fake clients. Lay person should be very careful not to be taken advantage of by the professional con businesses (including medical service offices/crooks/law office clerks et al); however, lying to potential lawyer makes no sense.

Michael Charles Doland

Michael Charles Doland

Posted

You may fool others but you don't fool me. You are the Asker. I suspected as much when I saw Garden Grove. My former warning to you remains in effect. You have already violated it but I have not acted yet. If you use my name in any context one more time ...

Asker

Posted

Your assumptions, accusations, delusions are all wrong. Stop making acusation. 1. I am not the asker. Log onto the supid Avvo and confirm that I am a different person. You posted in the public forum. You commented on the Asker's post. I commented to the Asker. We are not the same person. What is wrong with you? Take your pills.

Judy A. Goldstein

Judy A. Goldstein

Posted

I don't understand why none of you has yet to address a main problem here. When someone calls your office, you need the correct name right from the get-go to make sure you do not have a conflict of interest. True, an evasive client is not the most desirable but why have any conversation at all with someone with whom you have a conflict? Perhaps that doesn't happen much for you, but it happens to me with a fair degree of frequency, possibly because of the nature and location of my practice. This entire inquiry is a little suspect.....

Marilynn Mika Spencer

Marilynn Mika Spencer

Posted

Very good point, Judy. But since I only represent employees and it employers, it would have to be a pretty convoluted situation to cause a conflict in my practice.

Judy A. Goldstein

Judy A. Goldstein

Posted

That makes sense to me, Marilyn. The risk of conflict does vary depending upon the nature of the representation. Happy New Year, everyone.

Posted

I would find a client's use of a fake name to me upsetting for two reasons. First, it would prevent me from checking whether I had a conflict with this particular person. In addition, it would suggest that the client did not trust me.

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1 comment

Jonathan H Levy

Jonathan H Levy

Posted

Unless you require clients to provide ID, how would you know?

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