by John Darer
Settlement consultants come from a variety of backgrounds including insurance, securities, law and accounting and sales. Over the years there have been alot of creative labels used to describe those who toil in the structured settlement industry. Some examples:
- Structured settlement broker
- Structured settlement consultant
- Structured settlement planner
- Settlement planner
- Settlement wizard
- Settlement advisor
- Settlement professional
- Periodic Payment consultant
- "Structure Man"
- "Settle Man"
- "Structure Dude"
- "Settlly Lama"
The structured settlement watchdog has come across a North Carolina law firm that holds itself out on its website as "Charlotte Structured Settlements Lawyer". A web page on the firm's website says contact the firm "to arrange a consultation with a Charlotte structured settlement lawyer today".
I checked the North Carolina Department of Insurance website to determine whether or not either of the listed attorneys were licensed in the State of North Carolina and they did not appear to be.
The Charlotte law firm's website says they practice personal injury and workers compensation. It does not say they represent insurance companies or factoring companies in structured settlement factoring transactions.
When I contacted the law firm and asked to speak to a structured settlement lawyer, the "gatekeeper" abruptly said " we don't do that!". When I identified myself as the structured settlement industry watchdog, questioned why "structured settlement lawyers" was on their website, and asked it be taken down, she disclaimed any knowledge, got defensive, and blamed it on the company they paid to do the website (listed as FirmSite by FindLaw,a Thomson Reuters business) and went on a tirade about the firms ethics.
The structured settlement watchdog appreciates that lawyers want to be on the web, as well they should. But even ethical firm's make mistakes when it comes to the web. You cannot simply delegate to a web design company and publish something without proof reading it first. "The dog ate my homework" doesn' t work anymore since the "dog" is watching!
While the structured settlement industry truly appreciates lawyers who speak favorably about structured settlements and the lawyers who hold insurance licenses who practice in the industry, consider how lawyers get a "bug up their bum" about unauthorized practice of law. Well licensed insurance agents get the "creepy crawlies" about unlicensed professionals holding themselves out as something that they are not.