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The Craigslist Law Firm

Aug. 22, 2016, 5:15 PM

Using Craigslist to find work might be a bleak reality for some law graduates in today’s market. But news out of Florida today brings a word of warning for those who go that route.

In Coral Springs, two men were charged with operating a fake law firm without a license to practice law, and advertising their business as a firm with an “elite network of over 100 attorneys” to recruit junior lawyers to do their work.

Erika Pesantes of The Sun-Sentinel reports that Joseph Anton Hilton, 56, and Adam Forman, 46, owned The Asset Protection Law Firm, which drew more than 300 trusting homeowners on the brink of losing their homes to foreclosure as clients.

But neither Hilton nor Forman, both of Parkland, was licensed to practice law in Florida, police said. Each has been charged with practicing law without a license, a third-degree felony. Hilton is jailed on $250,000 bond; Forman is being held on $75,000 bond, jail records show. Additional charges are pending.

According to the Florida Attorney General’s Office, the pair “deceived homeowners into paying hefty upfront and monthly fees for legal services not supervised or approved by licensed attorneys.”

Anotherreport from Local 10 News says Hilton was taken into custody, but Forman remains at large, according to police.

Hilton, who went by the name Joseph Starr with clients, and Forman, used Craigslist to deceive lawyers into joining their firm to do their work, according to the Sun-Sentinel: “Hilton and Forman used these legitimate lawyers’ names and bar license information for corporate filings, retainer agreements with desperate homeowners and other legal documents, according to the attorney general’s office.”

Not such a great start for a young lawyer’s career. We reached out to the attorney’s general office for comment, as well as a detective involved in looking into further incidents of law firm fraud.

Until we hear back, we’ll leave this as yet another episode of incidents chronicling why lawyers should be skeptical when using Craigslist.

For further reading from Above the Law:

A Passive-Aggressive Craigslist Ad

Old Lady Lawyer: A Craigslist Ad That Needs Help

The Worst Job Description in Law

Write to us at BigLawBusiness@bna.com.

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