Debt Relief Industry Sued or Sanctioned

Florida Lawyer Suspended for Debt Negotiation Assistance and Fee-Sharing

A tipster (send in your tips here) forwarded me a copy of the latest disciplinary actions out of Florida that show an interesting situation which may have a far reaching impact on attorney-back office relationships with debt settlement companies.

Douglas David Stratton, Miami Beach, Suspended for 30 days, effective 15 days from a January 4 court order. Stratton’s practice expanded into the area of debt negotiation assistance. The firm contracted with non-legal back office service provider to handle the administrative functions of the debt negotiation practice. That employee improperly engaged in the direct solicitation of clients. An audit further revealed that the firm engaged in improper fee sharing with the back office provider. Case No. SC10-2373 – Source


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READ  Second Attorney, Partner, Has Law License Suspended for 6 Months for Debt Settlement Activity

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Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.


  • Sounds like the bar might have been gunning for him then.

    Is the bar aware that attorney model fee splitting is rampant? Were these guys just bad at how they set it up and others are more adept at setting up the structure with which they split fees with non attorneys?

    How creative does one have to be with fee sharing to fly under the radar?

    These are real questions I am asking that I do not know the answers to and would like to.

    So many attorneys are involved with the debt relief stuff. You have established firms representing and defending actions against industry. These guys get paid well for their legal expertise. How do they come about signing off on permissible fee sharing between attorney fronted, but back end provided services? Especially in the TSR regime?

  • Florida Attorneys are exempt from the current debt settlement statute.

    See Statute 817.803 Exceptions.—Nothing in this part applies to:

    (1) Any debt management or credit counseling services provided in the practice of law in this state;

    That is why the Florida Bar went after him for fee splitting instead.

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