The Oregon Court of Appeals recently affirmed a judgment in a cases alleging the unlawful practice of immigration law in the State. Stoll Berne, representing the Oregon State Bar, obtained a limited judgment for injunctive relief against three defendants who were alleged to have provided immigration legal services without a law license in Oregon.
The defendants, one an attorney authorized to practice law in Florida and Missouri, and the other two unlicensed in any state, are residents in the state of Florida. From at least March 2017 through May 2018, the defendants advertised immigration legal services to Oregon residents via Spanish radio and television. In these advertisements, defendants represented that the client would be “face-to-face” with an immigration specialist or immigration attorney for a free consultation about potential immigration relief. The licensed attorney was not present to oversee the unlicensed staff negotiating the matters with the potential clients.
From at least September 2017 through May 2018, defendants met with consumers in Beaverton, Oregon at a hotel conference room. Individuals and families seeking immigration legal services were led to believe they were meeting with a licensed attorney, completed intake questionnaires, entered into legal services contracts, and paid retainer fees. Consumers, upon hearing nothing further from the defendants, contacted them for refunds. Many were met with no refund while others received a check ultimately rejected as non-sufficient funds.
The injunctive order prohibits defendants from having personal contact with, meeting with or obtaining information from individuals in Oregon unless licensed to practice law in Oregon or supervised by an attorney licensed to practice law in Oregon; prohibits advertising immigration services in Oregon; prohibits soliciting clients for immigration services in Oregon; disallows defendants from holding seminars or informational sessions about immigration services in Oregon; and prohibits defendants from signing on clients or receiving funds from consumers in Oregon regarding immigration services unless an attorney is licensed in Oregon. Defendants were also ordered to close and refund all money paid to Oregon consumers, not yet known, upon request by the consumer within ten days of the request. The defendants are: Khullar P.A., Divya Khullar, Emmanuel Rosario Gonzales, Alexander Pena and Erick Soto.
Stoll Berne attorneys Keith Dubanevich, Josh Ross, and Lydia Anderson-Dana, along with attorney Diane Sykes of Diane S. Sykes Attorney at Law, P.C., represented the Oregon State Bar. The case is Oregon State Bar v. Khullar P.A, et al, case no. 18CV31833, in Multnomah County Circuit Court.
For information contact the Oregon State Bar: 16037 SW Upper Boones Ferry Rd, Tigard, OR 97224, (503) 620-0222, firstname.lastname@example.org.