Avoid Legal Complications and Work only with a Licensed Raleigh Lawyer
Impersonating a lawyer is a crime. Nothing good comes of it, both for the unlicensed practitioner and the misled clients. Now’s a good time to discuss this topic as a recent spate of impersonation cases has seen individuals arrested and, in one particular case, hit with a hefty fine.
A disbarred Raleigh lawyer who kept on practicing was arrested in a Columbus County court last July for impersonating another lawyer. News Observer reported that Nicholas Andrew Stratas, 57, was detained for a short time at the Columbus County Detention Center after he was arrested on a charge of criminal contempt. Stratas was slapped with a $300,000 fine. He was released after posting a bond.
How he got caught
Stratas appeared before District Court Judge Fred Gore in traffic court on July 28 Tuesday, where he claimed to be James Smith, an attorney from New Hanover County. Court clerks didn’t recognize him, so they asked Stratas for identification, which he could not provide.
The role of your lawyer
Your lawyer is meant to be your legal advocate—someone who provides you with competent legal representation and act in your best interest to help you find a solution to your legal problem. More than his responsibility to you, your lawyer is also a trustee of the legal system who is required to maintain public confidence in the system and uphold its integrity. Thus, anyone who presents himself as an attorney without a license to practice is engaging in the unauthorized and unethical practice of law, and is subject to contempt of court proceedings.
How to deal with your lawyer
Choose a competent lawyer with whom you can establish a good working relationship. Determine beforehand what the fees will be, and if you can afford to pay these. Make sure you define your objectives for pursuing your case, and communicate these objectives to your lawyer. Most of all, realize that your lawyer is there not necessarily to tell you what you want to hear, but to evaluate your case realistically and provide you with the best options to resolve your problem.
What about representing yourself?
For small civil trials, self-representation can be effective and cheap. For criminal trials, however, it would be ill-advised to even consider representing yourself in court. If you choose to represent yourself, you should seriously consider having a lawyer help you at least part of the way.
Licensed attorneys in Raleigh, North Carolina
Lawyers working with established law firms like Kurtz & Blum, PLLC can provide you with a dynamic combination of skilled legal practice experience, cost-effective solutions, and the personal attention you deserve. Contact them for a free initial consultation and case evaluation.
- Former Raleigh lawyer charged with impersonating a lawyer, News Observer, Jul. 30, 2015
- Is it illegal to impersonate an attorney?, USLegal.com