SAN DIEGO (CN) - A former attorney for thePacific Law Center, a champion for conservativeissues, says the center "routinely commits malpractice," chargesunearned fees and "takes legal action detrimental to clients."
Thecenter "is an unlawful 'front' organization created by defendants Larry Majors, Austin Majors, and Jeffrey Phillips to permit them to engage in and profit from the unauthorized practice of law," one of their former attorneys says in Superior Court.
Carl Hancock says the La Jolla-based defendants "routinely commit malpractice in the handling of legal matters," churn legal fees, "take legal actions which are detrimental to the clients," charge excessive and unearned fees, and that Larry Majors is a felon whose conviction bars him from practicing law in California, and who fled from Texas "when faced with prosecution for the unauthorized practice of law." Hancock says he worked for the defendants from March 11, 2007 until Jan. 19, 2008, and that he was fired for repeatedly protesting their unethical and illegal behavior.
He describes the PLC as a fraudulent conspiracy that defrauds clients to unjustly enrich themselves, that the Majorses and Phillips, oversee the work of defendant "front" attorneys Alan E. Spears, Thomas Slattery and Kerry Steigerwalt, and that they fraudulently conveyed assets of the PLC to Steigerwalt, to duck liability.
Neither Larry Majors, Austin Majors or Jeffrey Phillips is an attorney, Hancock says. Austin Majors is Larry Majors' son, and Phillips is Larry Majors' son in law, he says.
The complaint continues: "Larry Majors suffered a felony conviction in the State of Arizona and which precludes him from becoming eligible to practice of law in the State of California. Plaintiff is informed and believes that Larry Majors, while residing in the State of Texas, engaged in schemes similar to those described herein and fled the jurisdiction when faced with prosecution for the unlawful practice of law."
Hancock describes Spears as "one of the 'front' attorneys who permit the other non-attorney Defendants to control the firm. Spears has actual knowledge of the firm's true ownership and control yet, in violation of the legal and ethical duties imposed on him by his membership in the Bar, continues to permit the non-attorney to make client decisions and profit from the unauthorized practice of law."
Hancock describes Slattery in similar or identical terms, and adds, "Defendant Slattery boasts privately of having 18 State Bar complaints filed against him, however, the firm has never disciplined Slattery for any complaint."
He claims defendant Christopher Castle is not an attorney authorized to practice in California, and that "Castle's role in the conspiracy is to manage and supervise the 'Intake Coordinators,' the firm's legal salesmen, who are instructed to extract as high an amount of attorney fees as the client will agree to bear. Castle's actions are controlled, directly and indirectly, by Defendants Larry Majors, Austin Majors, and Jeffery Phillips. The attorney 'front-men,' Spears and Slattery, operate under specific instruction from Defendant Phillips to exert no control or authority over Castle or the salesmen."
Hancock says defendant Michael Wilkes is not an attorney authorized to practice in California, and that "Wilkes' role in the conspiracy is to act as one of the firm's salesmen. Clients have repeatedly complained that Wilkes holds himself out to be an attorney and gives legal advice, yet the firm has never disciplined him for such activities."
And he says Stiegerwalt is an attorney who "knew or reasonably should have known of the unlawful and ethical activities undertaken by each of Defendant (sic). Steigerwalt's role in the conspiracy consisted of entering into a sham sales transaction for the purpose of protecting the assets of each other Defendant in the event of liability under this complaint."
He claims that the Pacific Law Center "is controlled by Defendants, and each of them, for the purpose of avoiding California state laws prohibiting fraud, theft, and the unauthorized practice of law." He claims they "routinely engages in fraud in the solicitation and retention of prospective clients." He claims the "non-attorney 'Intake Coordinators' ... routinely provide unauthorized legal advice and use 'high-pressure' and 'scare' tactics to induce clients to retain the firm."
He claims, "The actions and tactics of the non-attorney 'Intake Coordinators' are controlled, directly and indirectly, by Defendants Larry Majors, Austin Majors, and Jeffrey Phillips, who employ unskilled attorneys to act as 'front-men' for the firm. These 'front' attorney have no authority to act on their own." He claims they "extract excessive and unconscionable fees and that clients are not informed about the work to be undertaken until after their retention." He claims that "Although the firm publishes an in-house 'fee schedule' for the benefit of State Bar investigators, the firms' salesmen quote excessively inflates fees dictated only by the client's assent. ... In many case, the salesmen obtain and hold the prospective client's driver's license or identification card to prevent the client from leaving the premises."
He claims "that Defendants and their agents routinely make misrepresentations to the State bar and other public and non-public entities for the purpose of hiding or 'covering-up' Defendants' illegal activities."
He claims that he witnessed this while he worked for the Pacific Law Center, and that his bosses there "directed Plaintiff to perform frivolous and unnecessary legal work for the purpose of obtaining unearned legal fees in violation of the public policies prohibiting fraud and theft," and that "as a result of Defendants' repeated demands to engage in activities in violation of public policy, Plaintiff was constructively terminated from his employment."
Hancock, who filed the complaint pro se, demands an injunction and punitive damages for conspiracy to engage in unauthorized practice of law, constructive discharge, fraud in the inducement, unjust enrichment, and asks the court to set aside fraudulent conveyance.
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