ELK GROVE (CBS13) — Viewers say a company called Quality Law for Less took their money and left them hanging.
Carmen and David Hall have been raising 6-year old Michael since he was a toddler.
“We feel blessed to have him in our home,” said Carmen.
The Halls want to legally become Michael’s mom and dad.
“He has become our son, and we are his parents,” said David.
So the Hall’s hired a company they found online called Quality Law for Less in Roseville. They paid Shaun Smith $1,500 to help them through the adoption process.
“He did tell us don’t call me. You don’t have to keep calling me, cause I’ll be working it,” said Carmen.
But after 16 months,”Nothing’s been done,” said David.
Carmen says after they had paid Smith the money, “I don’t think he gave us a second thought.”
The Halls want their money back, “It’s unacceptable,” said David.
Smith agreed to the refund the Hall’s and sent an apology email, admitting the delay was extremely unprofessional. But the money didn’t come.
“He hasn’t been honest. We have no money, and we have no adoption,” said Carmen.
“I thought he was legit,” said another client of Smith’s David Degner.
Degner says he paid Smith a $1,000 to help with his divorce paperwork, but he says Smith didn’t meet the first vital legal deadline.
“He left me high and dry,” said Degner.
Forcing him to hire someone else to do the paperwork at the last minute. “I could have lost my house; I could have lost my van, everything,” he said.
We learned that Smith is a Legal Document Assistant. According to a local trade group, an LDA is a low-cost alternative to attorneys for preparing legal paperwork for things like divorce, wills, deeds and guardianships.
Consumer Attorney Stuart Talley says a Legal Document Assistant cannot give any legal advice. But says and LDA can be beneficial if you have something that’s very simple.
Talley says, LDA’s abilities have limits, “They really can only help you fill out the forms.”
The Hall’s and Degner understood Smith’s role but said he didn’t even do what they hired him to do.
“I want to get the divorce over and get back on track,” said Degner.
And little Michael is tired of waiting too.
Carmen remembers a painful comment from little Michael, “About a month ago he says mommy you’re never going to adopt me. He’s upset with us.”
Smith declined our repeated requests for an interview but sent us a statement saying, “We have assisted several thousand consumers.” In Hall’s case, Smith said, “An error that was made, prevented us from timely completing the client’s documents.”
In Degner’s divorce case, Smith wrote to us, “decline to comment on this matter for the protection and well-being of Mr. Degner.”
But as soon as we got involved Smith cut checks to both Degner and the Hall’s for the amount they paid him.
Degner is still working on his divorce and was happy to get his money back but says, “Time was wasted because he didn’t do his job.”
The Hall’s feel that Smith wasted their time and had to start the process all over to adopt Michael.
“We’re going to give him the best life we can give him,” said Carmen.
Quality Law for Less had three offices in the Sacramento region that included an office in Roseville, which is now closed.
Smith was arrested last month on felony and embezzlement charges. He and another man are accused of selling a Sacramento home which belongs to an Alzheimer’s patient. They tried selling the home three different times to three different people.
Legal Document Assistants need to have either training or legal experience and cannot have a felony record.
They must also register with the county clerk, have a bond or type of insurance people can tap into if something goes wrong.
LDA’s. Consumers who want to file a complaint against a Legal Document Assistant should do so with the County’s Superior Court which the LDA is registered.
Shaun Smith is registered in Placer County.