When seeking legal assistance, all the more so in a foreign country, it is normal to feel lost or overwhelmed. This, unfortunately, makes it all the easier for you to be tricked into paying fees to fraudsters who claim to be lawyers while lacking the proper training or accreditation. Here is what to look out for in order to avoid these scams.
A large percentage of ‘fake lawyers’ are students with some understanding of the law but without a licence from the relevant Bar Association or ‘Colegio de Abogados’. Some are genuine lawyers who continue to practice despite being stripped of their status due to malpractice or unpaid fees. Others are simply con artists without any legal education whatsoever, though this is less common.
You may also see some job titles such as ‘legal advisor’ or ‘legal consultant’ used by unscrupulous professionals to avoid fines or even prison time. In not explicitly calling themselves ´lawyers´, they are protecting themselves from prosecution if it is discovered that they lack a licence or valid authorisation.
How to to officially verify a Spanish lawyer
- The first official way to verify a Spanish lawyer is to visit Spain’s national bar association Abogacía Española’s website, select your language, click on “services”, and click the icon that says “Censo General de Letrados”. Then, simply type in the first and last name of the attorney you want to check and the system should find the attorney’s information, including their bar number and practice address.
- Another official channel for verifying an attorney is through a local bar association. For example, the Buscador de profesionales offered by Barcelona’s bar association offers a similar function to the Census of Lawyers.
You can also contact either of these organizations directly to verify a particular lawyer. This could be especially helpful if you do not have all of the details needed for a search engine.
Only lawyers registered in a ´Colegio de Abogados´ with an individual licence number will have the correct credentials to allow them to represent you in court in Spain. What´s more, it is very likely that the so-called ´fake lawyers´ will not have the experience, expertise or resources necessary to achieve your desired outcome. It is therefore essential to ensure you are aware of the training and qualifications of the legal professional you intend to hire.
Updated version of an original article wrote on October 18, 2020