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State Reaches Agreement with Paralegal Allegedly Advertising Legal Services on Craigslist

Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper and the Division of Consumer Affairs announced today it has reached an agreement with a woman alleged to have provided legal services without a license.

Charlene Carter doing business as Carter's Paralegal Service located in Gallatin is alleged to have advertised her legal services on craigslist and through business cards. Carter has agreed to pay restitution to consumers who paid for legal services because she is not a licensed attorney in addition to stopping the alleged illegal activity.

Eligible consumers who come forward by no later than May 13, 2011 will be awarded restitution and the order requires them to be paid within 90 days of notification to the defendant. The agreement approved by Davidson County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Brothers also calls for the defendant to pay $3,000 to the State in fees and costs.

"The State takes all allegations of the unauthorized practice of law seriously." Attorney General Cooper said. "I am pleased to announce that this matter has been resolved in a way that will benefit consumers."

The State's lawsuit alleges violations of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act and Unauthorized Practice and Improper Conduct statutes. Specifically, Carter advertised in craigslist that someone seeking a divorce could obtain her services for $200 to $250," noting, "Do you need to get a divorce? We can help you out. Real cheap but professional."

Charlene Carter voluntarily resolved the alleged violations, which include drafting and preparing legal documents such as divorce pleadings, bankruptcy pleadings, estate planning documents, and contracts for profit. Charlene Carter is not licensed as an attorney nor did she work under the supervision of an attorney, and therefore she is not authorized to engage in the practice of law.

Consumers who paid Charlene Carter and Carter's Paralegal Service for legal services should contact the Division of Consumer Affairs at (615) 741-4737, or toll free within Tennessee at 1- 800- 342-8385 by no later than May 13, 2011.

Consumers who have complaints about any other individuals or businesses engaged in unfair or deceptive trade practices should contact the Division of Consumer Affairs at either of the numbers listed above. You may also file a complaint on line at tn.gov/consumer.

If you know of an individual or company that may be practicing law without a license, please file a complaint with this Office by downloading a complaint form from www.tn.gov

The State also encourages Tennesseans in need of an attorney to confirm the attorney is in good standing and licensed to practice law in the state of Tennessee by contacting the Board of Professional Responsibility at (615) 361-7500.

Published January 20, 2011

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