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Is it illegal for someone to pretend they are a lawyer and is this harassment? (Details below)

Alhambra, CA |

2 / 25 / 13 @ 0908hours , a man called my house . I let the call go to the machine . He stated that he " counseled " my tenant regarding her eviction and it was " imperative " that I return his call . 2 / 26 / 13 @ 1947hours I received another call and let it go to the machine . It was the same man . He stated that I needed to call him back " before further action is taken " . 2 / 26 / 13 @ 2043hours , I got a call on my cell phone from a different number with the same area code ; however , my voice mail is not set up . After some research , I found out that the man is directly related to my tenant and owns a car wash in my tenant’s former city residence and that the other number is connected to someone the caller is related to . Is this illegal for him to lure me into believing he is a lawyer and is this considered harassment ?

I just looked up the caller on The State Bar of California Attorney License Lookup website and there is no such person or lawyer in CA under his name at all.

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Attorney answers 3


First of all, the unauthorized/unlicensed practice of law is illegal. While an argument can be made that simply holding oneself out as being an attorney is not the same as actually engaging in the practice of law, it's, nevertheless, wrong to pretend like you're an attorney when you're, in fact, not one.

Secondly, California's civil harassment laws define “harassment” as (a) unlawful violence, like assault or battery or stalking OR (b) a credible (real) threat of violence, AND the violence or threats seriously scare, annoy, or harass someone and there is no valid reason for it. Thus, the information you have provided does not appear to constitute harassment.


On these facts, there is not sufficient basis for concluding that the caller pretended to be an attorney or caused you to believe he is a lawyer. "Counseled" covers a lot of territory including multiple professional and occupational categories and interactions among friends and acquaintances. Nothing about "imperative" is indicative of lawyering. And '"action taken" can refer to almost anything.

No doubt you are right about the caller's intent, but it was artful and vague enough to fall short of actionable civil or criminal conduct.

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Thank you Christine McCall. I appreciate the reply. Being a property manager can be really nerve wrecking! Thank you again for your reply.


Based upon your facts, the caller did not hold himself out as an attorney. Counseling someone does not necessarily mean a person is an attorney.