DENVER — Colorado Attorney General John Suthers announced today that a Denver District Court judge has ordered Daniel Ketelsen, the owner of Broomfield-based Legal Aid, to pay more than $238,000 in restitution and $100,000 in civil penalties.
The Office of the Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Ketelsen and his company in February 2009 on suspicion that Legal Aid U.S. misled consumers to believe it was a local state-subsidized legal aid organization and licensed to provide legal services and advice. The complaint also alleged that the company only employed non-attorneys to draft legal documents for its customers. The company’s “intake specialists” were suspected of giving legal advice to consumers, even though Legal Aid’s employees were not licensed to practice law.
According to the default judgment, Ketelsen failed to appear at a February 2010 trial management conference, failed to comply with discovery rules, and violated a January 2010 court order compelling him to comply with initial disclosures and discovery in the case.
The final judgment and permanent injunction bars Ketelsen — or any of the entities he was doing business as, including Legal Aid, Legal Aid U.S., Legal Aid, LLC, and National Document Preparation Services — from “soliciting, charging for a fee, providing, and aiding in the sale of any legal service,” including document preparation or production.
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Consumers in need of legal services who cannot afford a private attorney and do not meet the criteria for free legal assistance, should:
- Always ask if there are licensed attorneys who are providing any advertised legal services. You can check if a lawyer is licensed in Colorado by going to the Supreme Court’s attorney registration Web site: www.coloradosupremecourt.com/Search/ATTSearch.asp;
- Bear in mind that attorneys often require retainers, but government-subsidized, nonprofit legal aids do not charge fees; and,
- Know that non-lawyers cannot dispense legal advice in the state of Colorado. This means, non-lawyers cannot select and fill out legal forms for consumers without the supervision of a licensed attorney.
Resources for consumers seeking legal help but cannot afford an attorney:
- Colorado Legal Services has multiple offices in Colorado and provides legal assistance by licensed attorneys to consumers who qualify financially: http://coloradolegalservices.org/co/homepage.html
- Local bar associations often provide pro bono legal services to those who qualify. The Denver Bar Association’s Metro Volunteer Lawyers is a resource for consumers who live in Adams, Arapahoe, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, Elbert, Gilpin, or Jefferson counties: www.metrovolunteerlawyers.org/index.cfm?pagename=homepage
- The Colorado Supreme Court provides downloadable legal forms for free: www.courts.state.co.us/Forms/Index.cfm