"1-800-ASK-GARY," "411-PAIN" and other for-profit lawyer referral services just got a preview of what is to come from the Florida Supreme Court today. The Supreme Court ruled that the proposed rules regulating these for-profit referral services were not strict enough. The Court noted: "The dangers that non-lawyer-owned, for-profit referral services pose to members of the public -- who may be especially vulnerable after they suffer an injury, or when they face a legal matter that they never anticipated -- leads us to conclude that much stricter regulations upon lawyer referral services are required than those proposed by the Bar."
At Cope, Zebro and Crawford, we view any lawyer that utilizes or works with one of these referral services to be part of the problem. As the Supreme Court noted: "Additionally, some law firms that are affiliated with for-profit lawyer referral services steer clients towards other businesses operated by the owner of the referral service, sometimes to the detriment of the health and well-being of the client." We never have and never will be affiliated with any referral service.
I have personally read the pleadings in the "1-800-ASK-GARY" case discussed above by the Supreme Court. The law firm involved is local to Clearwater/Pinellas/Tampa Bay area. Two of the lawyers have been previously suspended by the bar, but are now back. The unfortunate client called "1-800-ASK-GARY" and was referred to this particular firm. The client was then steered into unnecessary surgery and outrageous medical bills. Her lawyers did not care that she had medical insurance that would have covered everything she really needed. What happened was terrible, and exemplifies the dangerous fact that there are predatory lawyers out there who put their wallets first and their clients last. The client ended up with almost nothing out of a $300,000.00 settlement. The law firm and doctors took the rest.
Don't let this happen to you. Don't take it from me, read the entire Florida Supreme Court decision here: http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/2015/sc14-2126.pdf