Skip to Main Content
Contact US

CALL US TODAY!

(713) 804-8149

You’ve got a legal issue demanding professional assistance. Maybe you’re looking to file a lawsuit, draw up an estate plan, or incorporate a business.

Whatever it is, you’re keenly aware that going it alone is a recipe for disaster. You need an actual law firm’s expertise and support to properly protect your rights and interests.

But as you start browsing listings and the internet’s bottomless assortment of ads, a pit forms in your stomach. How can you be sure the firm you ultimately hire is 100% legit – and not some fly-by-night operation looking to drain you for fees?

The reality is brutally harsh: fake law firms are big business for fraudsters these days. Don’t be another notch on their shady belts.

The Warning Signs of a Fake Law Firm

When sharks begin circling, they tend to trigger certain unmistakable cues and signals. The same applies to fake law firms working an angle.

If you spot any of the following red flags, it’s best to run – not walk – away from the prospect of hiring them.

Fake Law Firm Sign: Their Online Presence is Suspiciously Slight

In this hyper-digital age, even the smallest legal outfits have some kind of footprint on the web beyond a website – leaked case outcomes, public legal filings, professional association mentions, etc. A prospective firm’s internet presence should be unimpeachably well-traveled.

If they have the combined online footprint of a Pagefield Berry, consider it a warning sign their online imagery may be mostly smoke and mirrors itself. The absence of evidence can indeed be evidence of absence here.

Fake Law Firm Sign: Their Address is Shared or Untraceable

Law firms tend to work out of dedicated, professional office spaces befitting a respectable legal outfit. If you find a firm with an address that’s:

  • A private mailbox or PO box
  • A residential home’s address
  • An office shared with multiple other companies

Consider that a gigantic red flag suggesting they’re not worth looking at as far as legal representation is concerned.

Similarly, if you find that a firm’s address yields zero tangible hits on Google Maps or Street View, it could be hard-stopping evidence they’re completely fabricating their place of operation.

Fake Law Firm Sign: They Won’t Meet Face-to-Face

A hallmark of fake firms is their steadfast refusal to meet would-be clients in-person beyond introductions. For such fake law firms, every single thing from initial consultations to signing documents is aggressively directed to phone/email/video means only.

That’s incredibly unorthodox, especially for important personal matters like lawsuits, trusts, etc. Real firms know in-person relationships are mission-critical for building rapport and earning trust. Fake ones avoid that proximity at all costs.

Fake Law Firm Sign: They Pressure for Upfront Fees ASAP

Another giant tell is proactive aggressiveness from the firm about extracting upfront fees from you almost immediately. Like, “let’s get you paid up first before we go any further” kind of stuff.

While legitimate advance costs are common, faithful law firms understand payment plans and installments are often necessary for client cash flow. Shady operations just want to rob you of your money upfront and disappear.

Fake Law Firm Sign: Important Details Seem Spotty/Changing

Be incredibly wary of outfits whose important details seem to change, contradict themselves, or suffer from suspicious lapses in memory over the course of your engagement with them.

Fake Law Firm Sign: They Lack Specialized Certifications

Most good lawyers who have spent significant time and money honing expertise in a particular legal domain or industry will be credentialed up. The absence of those specialized accolades could indicate charlatans who’ve intentionally mastered no particular legal space in order to pull off their theatrical productions.

Fake Law Firm Sign: Their Fees Are Absurdly Cut-Rate

Just like spotting red flags in firms charging outrageous prices, ridiculously low fees can be the hallmark of a con. If their rates seem unbelievably cheap or discounted far below market norms, trust your skepticism.

Fraudsters are often willing to charge basement prices just to get your financial information and deposit before disappearing into the ether.

If any of those bright red flags start screaming at you, trust your instincts and move on ASAP. Don’t try bargaining with fake law firms. It never ever pays in the long run.

Legitimacy Checks to Conduct

So you now know the warning signs and feel good about moving forward with a firm. That’s great! But your official vetting duties are only just beginning.

Now it’s time to apply some due diligence tactics to validate they’re indeed the authentic, professional outfit they’re representing themselves to be.

Obsessively Scan the Web/Reviews for Complaints and Judgments

Thanks to the digitization of society, it’s easier than ever to find legitimate criticism or formal legal actions lobbed against suspect operations.

Exhaust every search engine and review platform looking for:

  • Client testimonials both positive and negative
  • News reports about judgment/punishment
  • Official disciplinary actions from state bar associations
  • Social media chatter and accusations

Search for Their State Bar Association Status

In nearly every state, attorneys must be actively licensed and members of the jurisdictional bar association to legally practice law. Fake firms will struggle badly to mimic this legitimacy.

Search those state bar association databases and sites ferociously to not only confirm individual lawyers’ active status, but also validate the firm’s official registration as a recognized legal entity within the state.

This process could surface immediate disqualifications like suspended licenses, lack of credentials, or zero registration of the purported firm name whatsoever.

Employ Formal Background, Asset, and License Checks

For high-stakes legal matters that put a lot of your assets in play, go ahead and contract formal third-party investigative services to:

  • Perform comprehensive background checks on the firm’s purported attorneys/owners
  • Attain federal tax transcripts to validate years in business
  • officially confirm licenses and registrations for realness

In high-dollar scenarios, having verified research can grant invaluable liability protection against unscrupulous actors looking to siphon your life’s work.

Intimately Interrogate Their Professional Affiliations

Any legitimate law firm will be actively engaged with relevant professional organizations, alumni associations, law firm alliances, and more.

Push them to not only name specific groups they belong to, but actually furnish documented proof of membership status.

Then go ahead and independently verify that proof with the organizations themselves. Draw out the whole pedigree and track record from multiple credible sources.

If they stumble, get evasive, provide expired credentials, or their named affiliations seem dubious, you’re wise to walk away from the arrangement.

Demand Examples of Real Legal Product

You’re not interested in just retaining an attorney for their inevitable legal protections. You’re after their proven in-the-trenches performance-producing necessities like:

  • Past court filings and case research
  • Legal briefs, exhibits and motions
  • Contracts, articles of agreement, corporate bylaws
  • Closing statements, settlement agreements

A legitimate law firm should readily supply verifiable samples of their real legal product and application of expertise.

You’ll want to parse those samples closely for substance, spot lack of customization for clients, or detect anything suggesting duplicated templates that betray an absence of professional discernment.

At the end of your vetting process, you should have 100% confidence this outfit can generate high-quality, tailored legal support exclusive to your particular situation and not just regurgitate boilerplates.

Contact Us

If you’re looking for a legitimate law firm that has a proven track record of fighting for their clients, look no further than Husain Law + Associates — Houston Accident & Injury Lawyers, P.C.. We have been fighting for the rights of injury victims for decades, and we can fight for your rights too. Call us today at (713) 804-8149 and allow us to fight for your rights. We offer a first free no-obligation consultation. 

About the Author

Avatar

Husain Law Firm

Nomaan K. Husain is the founder of Husain Law + Associates — Houston Accident & Injury Lawyers, P.C., a Houston-based law firm specializing in Litigation, Immigration, and Aviation. He is Board Certified in Civil Trial Law and Personal Injury Trial Law, with law licenses in Texas, New York, and other jurisdictions. Mr. Husain serves in key community roles, including as Commissioner on President Biden's White House Commission on Fellowships and Chairman of Houston's Asian American Pacific Islander Advisory Board. He's been recognized with several awards, such as the Global Leader Award from the Houston World Affairs Council.

Read More