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State AG Orders Nashville Woman to Stop Unlicensed Lawyering

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper; October 24, 2012: 

Martha Salazar, who was doing business as Comunidad Hispana in South Nashville, is permanently enjoined from practicing law without a license and must refund consumers for services that she has performed, a Circuit Court has ordered.

Davidson County Judge Amanda McClendon has entered the Agreed Final Judgment that will permanently stop Salazar from violating unauthorized practice of law statutes and consumer protection laws at the request of Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper’s Office. The action, filed on behalf of the Division of Consumer Affairs, prohibits Salazar from advertising or providing legal services, in addition to providing restitution to those who used her services and timely file a complaint by the deadline of April 12, 2013.

“We are grateful to the Court for this decision,” Attorney General Bob Cooper said. “Practicing law without a license can lead to extremely serious consequences to those who are dependent upon their legal representative to help them in so many areas of their lives. This is especially true when there can be confusion in the culture or language of those employing a lawyer.”

The State alleged that Salazar prepared immigration petitions, custody agreements and contracts and provided other legal services for primarily Spanish‐speaking consumers at her former business at 2608 Nolensville Road. Salazar is not licensed as an attorney, nor has she worked under the supervision of an attorney, and therefore she is not authorized to engage in the practice of law.

The complaint, filed in June 2011, alleged Salazar has advertised the services of “notario publico” without the legally required notice that a notary public is not a lawyer. In many Spanish‐speaking countries, notaries publicos are civil‐law notaries, and are highly trained, licensed practitioners providing a full range of regulated legal services. The translation of “notary public” in the United States causes substantial confusion, providing the opportunity to mislead consumers regarding the qualifications of a notary public to provide legal services.

Gary Cordell, director of the Division of Consumer Affairs added, “Consumers who paid Martha Salazar or Comunidad Hispana for legal services should contact the Division of Consumer Affairs (615) 741-4737 or toll-free within Tennessee at 1-877-275-7396 before the deadline of April 15, 2013.”

Consumers who used Ms. Salazar’s services are encouraged to call the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office at (615) 741-1671 or toll free within Tennessee at 1-877-275-7396 before the deadline. Because many of Ms. Salazar’s clients are Spanish speaking, the Attorney General’s Office has a Spanish speaking staff member available to talk with victims.

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