I was formerly employed by a company that provides immigration services and counseling to individuals and companies looking to hire foreign nationals and/or immigrate to the U.S.. While there, it was common practice for non-licensed employees to answer a client’s legal questions and submit legal documents to the government. Furthermore, there were only a handful of attorneys who would would represent legal counsel for the entire company as well as the company’s clients. They of course do not have the time to answer all the legal questions and do all the legal casework and would typically hand off such tasks to subordinates of their legal team who do not have a license whatsoever. When questioned about the legality of whether the actions of non-licensed employees providing legal advice were legit, the common response was that these non-licensed employees have enough experience in handling such matters that they were "specialists" and thus the risk was slight. Furthermore, there was a ton of assumption that many of the questions were "non-legal" and should not pose any harm. Finally, one crazy practice that is constantly taken is that forms and written legal arguments are drafted, finalized, and submitted to the government by non-paralegals. The argument by the Company here is that the final product is reviewed by an attorney. Trust me on this one, many times it is not. If it is, it is simply glanced over and submitted and the attorney put no work in it whatsoever. The entire work was completed by a non-legally licensed individual. A simple review to me, no matter how much experience a non-legally licensed individual has in doing it, is downright fraud.
Obviously, there is a ton of B.S. that goes on there about such practices and I feel that, even though the advice given may at times be accurate, the whole practice stinks of fraud. This company is located in Chicago, IL and they provide their services over the internet and so clients don’t even know what the employees who they are speaking or receiving legal aid from even looks like nor knows anything about.
Justice must be served and I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts, opinions, and ultimate actions that would be taken.
I should mention that I am a practicing attorney. Fraud by definition is an intentional deception made for personal gain. Here, salespeople are providing a legal service for profit with the guise of attorneys acting on their behalf. The difference between legal clinics with colleges, etc., are that the clients are aware that the information is free and from a non-licensed individual. Thus, clients have consented to such services. Clients here are providing monetary funds in return for the receiving of knowledge and services of a licensed individual for the purpose of immigrating to the U.S. Therefore, because non-licensed employees are intentionally accepting payment and intentionally avoiding the use of licensed individuals then fraud may be present.
If I were a client and I knew of such actions, I would immediately request the refund of my money and go elsewhere.