The sharks are circling.
Out-of-state attorneys and runners who work for them are soliciting clients for lawsuits over the oil spill. The Mississippi Association for Justice, an organization of attorneys who represent injured people, is asking Attorney General Jim Hood to investigate.
“We have heard numerous stories of businesses along the Mississippi Gulf Coast that are getting as many as half a dozen phone calls per hour from out-of-state law firms,” the organization’s president, Steve Mullins, said in a letter to Hood. Mullins said trial lawyers’ associations in Alabama, Louisiana and Texas support the call for an investigation.
“We’ve all collectively had enough of this,” Mullins said in an interview with the Sun Herald. “You can’t just come into this state and just represent people willy-nilly. It’s illegal. It’s unethical.”
Mullins told the Sun Herald the problem of illegal solicitations has grown since Katrina, when unethical attorneys stationed private investigators and other runners on the Coast to solicit clients.
“This is widespread,” he said. Under professional rules of conduct, attorneys are not supposed to solicit cases. Also, it is a misdemeanor violation of state statute to practice law in Mississippi without a state license.
An attorney’s license can be checked with the Mississippi Bar Association at 601-948-4471 or on the Web at www.msbar.org.