The State Bar of California announced Wednesday it has seized an “unauthorized law practice” operating as National Family Solutions out of offices in Santa Barbara, Goleta, and Los Angeles. Neither of the firm’s owners, Eric Campbell and Anita Youabian, has a license to practice law in California, the Bar said, and they had repeatedly tried to evade the state’s regulatory system governing attorneys, “including requirements for the use of client trust accounts and prohibitions on taking unearned fees.”
“National Family Solutions sought to profit by promising vulnerable victims legal services it was not authorized to provide,” said George Cardona, chief trial counsel for the agency. “The State Bar is committed to shutting down businesses that persist in such practices.”
National Family Solutions claimed to offer “low-cost” legal services to self-represented clients in the midst of divorces, child custody cases, and other family law matters. They solicited business through their website and charged clients flat fees of approximately $1,000 or more depending on the case type, plus monthly service charges for access to “case managers” and “legal staff.” Dozens of complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau, however, indicate those services were rarely rendered.
“I contacted National Family Solutions for help with a custody battle against my daughter’s grandmother,” reads one of the complaints lodged May 12, 2021, which omits exact dollar figures. “[T]he guy who chose to help with my case charged me nearly $****, which I paid in full. Now he doesn’t answer the phone nor does he reply to my emails. He stated that he would email me the documents I needed to serve the other party, which he never sent. Now here I am 4 months later and still I have no knowledge of how I’m supposed to get my daughter back.”
On November 16, Santa Barbara’s Judge Thomas Anderle allowed the State Bar to take control of National Family Solutions’ operations and accounts. The state agency froze business-related bank accounts, redirected telephone calls and mail to the State Bar, and seized more than 4,000 client files dating back to 2008.
National Family Solutions had ignored earlier warnings in 2018 by the State Bar that their practices were illegal, the agency also said. The company, operated as an LLC, also apparently continued its operations despite a pending investigation by the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office, which said this Thursday it continues to work with the State Bar on the investigation but has thus far not filed any criminal charges. Attempts to reach owners Campbell and Youabian were not successful.
In 2020, the State Bar opened more than 600 cases in which a non-attorney was alleged to have engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. The agency has since referred more than 300 of those cases to local law enforcement officials.
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