Monday, October 1, 2012

The Inspired Solo, Disbarred.

For those new around here, or new to the wonderful world of lawyers selling their marketing skills on the internet, I'm what's known as a bully, asshole, dinosaur, buzz kill, cog in the wheel of attempts to peddle garbage, guy who exposes the sewer that is the world of lawyer marketing on the internet.

In order for any of this to make sense, some history is important.

When I first started talking with people on twitter, one night I received what is called a "direct message." That's a private message between two people. The message asked if I knew the person I was publicly talking with was disbarred? Disbarred? No, of course not. In fact, the person's bio said that he left the practice of law because he was so interested in teaching lawyers how to blog. Why would anyone blatantly lie about why they left the practice - why not just say "I no longer practice?"

After reading the disbarment order, I wondered why any lawyer would hire someone with this background to teach them how to do anything practice-related.. 

So I wrote about it. 

Yeah, I know, defamation. I get threatened weekly, always by people that have never read the law of defamation. You have to have two things, a reputation, and damages. Usually both are a problem for these folks. Oh, and I what I say has to be false as well, that's always the problem for them. They don't like the truth, but it is, the truth.

It was then I realized that lawyers don't ask questions to anyone that claims to be able to make them money. Apparently, no one knew about this, or those who knew weren't willing to say anything. He was on his way to being a faculty member of Solo Practice University and then apparently the CEO who like Taylor Swift said she never ever ever ever knew about it, got the news....and well, that was that.

I confirmed this with a lawyer-marketer I know. Lawyers don't ask the hard questions like "why don't you practice anymore?" Or: "How many clients have you brought in to your law practice with social media?"

And then I found more of them - people who were a little free with their bios. Some I found, others found me through other lawyers passing it along - too afraid to mention it themselves. Some reaction was fascinating - lawyers telling me they didn't need me to write about the scum of the profession as they needed no protection. You know, like the protection lawyers don't need from Nigerian e-mail scams? (most victims are lawyers.)

Once I found a lawyer still trolling for business on the internet, even though she was facing charges of mortgage fraud (to which she pled guilty) and was disbarred. When I asked her why she was doing that she asked me if I would leave my partner hanging if that happened to me? You know, her law partner needed to make some money (and why did I have to ruin everything?) She now calls herself a "real estate law...rockstar," and uses only a part of her name, as the complete name brings up things that maybe her new friends in her new world don't know.

The internet is omnipresent, but a great place to hide.

Well when that issue came up of the lawyer facing mortgage fraud charges, The Inspired Solo chimed in, Sheryl Sisk Schelin. Her blog is gone now, as is her law license. 

We'll get back to that in a minute - the law license part.

Sheryl called me a bully. I of course had never heard of her, so I did a quick Google search and discovered her law license was suspended in what's called an "interim suspension." The order says it's for failure to complete CLE requirements.

Sheryl said she had a health issue. Maybe that's why she didn't complete her CLE.

But then Sheryl was disbarred.

Matter I
Respondent was retained by ten clients to file bankruptcy actions on their behalf.  Respondent accepted payments from the clients, including, in many cases, court filing fees, in excess of $15,000, but failed to perform any meaningful work on the cases or to diligently represent the clients and pursue their actions.  Indeed, respondent never actually filed a bankruptcy action on behalf of any of the clients.  Respondent failed to respond to telephone calls and emails from clients and failed to keep them reasonably informed of the status of their cases.  Respondent also failed to refund to the clients that portion of the fees and costs that was not yet earned or incurred because respondent had converted the funds for her personal use.  Finally, respondent failed to return the clients' documents and other materials in their files.
Matter II
A client endorsed and returned to respondent a settlement check in the amount of $2,000.  Respondent cashed the check but failed to disburse any proceeds to the client.  Respondent also failed to communicate with the client about the status of the settlement proceeds or about the client's pending case.
Matter III
On July 10, 2008, respondent was retained to represent a client in a civil action.  Respondent agreed to represent the client on a contingency basis in addition to a $1,000 fee.  The client also paid respondent $350 for filing fees.  Respondent failed to keep the client informed regarding the status of her case and failed to respond to the client's emails, faxes, text messages or telephone calls.  Respondent informed the client that an additional $1,200 to $1,500 may be required for personal service.  The client requested a written explanation of the additional fees.  However, respondent failed to send the client a letter of explanation regarding the additional fees.  Respondent failed to refund the client that portion of her fees and costs that was not yet earned or incurred because respondent had converted the funds for her personal use.  Respondent failed to diligently represent the client in the civil action.
Matter IV
Respondent was paid $500 by a client to represent the client in a wrongful termination action.  Thereafter, respondent informed the client that due to the loss of respondent's electronically-stored information, respondent may have miscalculated the filing date for one of the client's statutory claims.  Respondent also informed the client that due to the miscalculation error, respondent would represent the client free of charge and pay all costs of litigation.  However, respondent failed to file any actions on respondent's behalf regarding the wrongful termination claim.  She also failed to refund the $500 retainer fee, as she had agreed to do.  Respondent failed to diligently represent the client in the action and failed to perform any meaningful work on the case.  Respondent also failed to timely respond to the client's telephone calls and faxes and failed to keep the client reasonably informed of the status of the case.
Failure to Respond
Respondent was served with notices of full investigation in each of these matters, but failed to respond or otherwise communicate with ODC in response to the notices.
Did you buy her "Twitter for Lawyers" book? Did you buy her advice, her consulting services? Did you want to be an "Inspired Solo?" Did you look all wide-eyed like you do when you watch those people on infomercials sitting on beaches in exotic places with the waves crashing behind them?

Have you ever asked that former lawyer turned social media marketing expert about their law practice - about their former law practice? Is the prospect of money that enticing that you just don't want to know the truth about what's behind the great and powerful Oz?

I do hope that Sheryl's health issues are resolved, although it doesn't appear the South Carolina Bar disbarred her for that reason.

I know this because I spent 5 seconds typing in to a keyboard.

And now you know.

Do you care?

Will it affect the way you approach these former lawyers turned "I can make you money" marketers?"


Anonymous comments are welcome as long as they say something relevant and half-way intelligent and aren't a vehicle for a coward to attack someone. I trust you understand.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint. Share/Save/Bookmark


Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

So what if she got disbarred? What does that have to do with her claimed ability to teach lawyers how to blog? She shouldn't be allowed to attempt to make a living teaching blogging or flipping burgers or whatever? You want she should just go kill herself?

My Law License said...

No. I rarely see people say and do things so stupid that I would have those thoughts

My Law License said...

No. I rarely see people say and do things so stupid that I would have those thoughts