Medina County Courthouse

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Foreclosure Negotiation Firm, Employees Cited for Unauthorized Practice of Law, Fined $20,000

Disciplinary Counsel v. Foreclosure Alternatives, Inc., Slip Opinion No. 2010-Ohio-6257.
On Final Report by the Board on the Unauthorized Practice of Law, No. UPL 09-05. Foreclosure Alternatives, Inc., Kert Alexakis, and Lance Baker a.k.a. Lance Trester are permanently enjoined from acts constituting the practice of law in Ohio, and civil penalties are imposed.
Brown, C.J., and Pfeifer, Lundberg Stratton, O'Connor, O'Donnell, Lanzinger, and Cupp, JJ., concur.

(Dec. 23, 2010) The Supreme Court of Ohio ruled today that Cincinnati-based Foreclosure Alternatives Inc. (FAI) and employees Kert Alexakis and Lance Trester engaged in the unauthorized practice of law by managing the defense of foreclosure actions while negotiating with lenders for two homeowners.

In a 7-0 per curiam decision, the Court accepted the recommendation of its Board on the Unauthorized Practice of Law that it issue an order enjoining Foreclosure Alternatives, Alexakis and Trester, who have never been licensed as attorneys, from engaging in any future acts that constitute the practice of law and impose a total of $20,000 in civil penalties against the parties.

In today’s decision, the Court observed that: “FAI entered into contracts with foreclosure defendants, engaged attorneys for the limited purpose of filing pleadings, and ostensibly acted to resolve the mortgage disputes. In both instances, the homeowners lost their homes, which were sold in foreclosure (sheriff) sales.”

“The complaint charged, and the board concluded, that the respondents had engaged in the unauthorized practice of law by counseling clients on the course of legal action in connection with foreclosure and by undertaking to negotiate on their behalf in the context of foreclosure actions.”

In summarizing the harmful effects of unauthorized law practice , the Court noted that “(t)he record in this case indicates the possibility of far better outcomes for the former homeowners had they received the full attention of qualified, competent attorneys who abided by their ethical obligations. Instead, the former homeowners paid hundreds of dollars for which they received little return.”

Jonathan Coughlan, 614.461.0256, for the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

James Frooman, 513.651.6707, for Lance Trester.

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