If Llamas would pay the firm’s price, the coordinator said he could guarantee Llamas would not lose his driver’s license, according to the suit. But in the end, an attorney told Llamas his case was indefensible and he should plead guilty.
The Llamas, Slattery, and Hancock suits stress that the sales personnel engage in the unauthorized practice of law.
Under rules of the California bar, a lawyer has to sign a retainer agreement in front of a client. But at Pacific Law Center, the lawyer who signed the document would say he was not the one who would handle the case. Thus, the potential client did not learn his rights or the strength of the case from an attorney handling it. Steigerwalt said in his deposition that he changed this procedure but couldn’t remember when.
In his deposition, Steigerwalt said Pacific Law Center lawyers “were schleps,” according to the Llamas suit. Also, Steigerwalt admitted that he knew of the pressure tactics used by the intake coordinators. But he didn’t change things significantly, say the Llamas and Slattery suits. Indeed, Steigerwalt, said in the Slattery suit to make $900,000 yearly, was constantly checking to see if the firm was bringing in the daily gross receipts it needed to keep its head above water.
Says Steigerwalt, “In forming [Kerry Steigerwalt’s Pacific Law Center] I realized there were challenges. I just did not realize the extent of those challenges.”
He won’t answer questions about the Llamas suit because it was dismissed. Ripostes Michael Pancer, “It is true that the summary judgment motion was granted, but that does not affect the validity of statements made under oath in support of our lawsuit.” That includes deposition statements made by Steigerwalt.
Says Pancer, “I will give Kerry Steigerwalt the benefit of the doubt when he claims he wanted to turn [Pacific Law Center] around. But it was obvious to those of us who practice criminal defense that the business model was ethically flawed and could not be saved no matter what his best intentions were.” Steigerwalt’s adventure represented a “desire for profit overwhelming good judgment.”