Hawaiian authorities have been flooded with complaints about out-of-state lawyers soliciting victims of the Maui wildfire, according to a report by HawaiiNewsNow. Some of these attorneys are now under investigation for practicing without a state license or improper advertising.
The Hawaii Supreme Court has some of the most stringent rules in the nation regarding out-of-state lawyers and advertising, HawaiiNewsNow reported.
One lawyer who may have run afoul of these rules is Texas attorney Erick Dick, who sent flyers reading “you may be entitled to money.” The back of the flyer includes a contract and instructions to sign it and text it to Dick’s law firm, HawaiiNewsNow reported.
“I’m just trying to get people’s attention so they know they have rights,” Dick told the news service. “You can demonize me as much as you want. It doesn’t bother me.”
Dick said the flyer was approved by the Texas Bar Association and that he had used similar flyers in the past. However, it is illegal for lawyers without a Hawaii license or those working in partnership with a licensed Hawaii attorney to solicit clients in the state.
Hawaii Chief Disciplinary Counsel Bradley Tamm told HawaiiNewsNow that the flyer was likely improper solicitation.
“I received 10, 12, 15 of these things from different sources sending me, ‘see what I got in the mail’,” Tamm told the news service. He said he had fielded inquiries about 42 lawyers or law firms and is actively investigating 22 attorneys. Those lawyers could face license suspensions or criminal penalties if found to have improperly solicited clients, HawaiiNewsNow reported.
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Tamm said that many mainland attorneys are properly advertising by teaming up with licensed Hawaii firms, which are identified in the advertisements. However, he said that the Hawaii-licensed lawyers should take the lead with clients, HawaiiNewsNow reported.
“Once you’ve retained that Hawaii attorney, he may bring in a mainland counsel to work and talk to you, that might be permitted,” Tamm told the news service. “Jury’s still out on that. I’m not exactly comfortable with it.”
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