In the recent year, we have seen a drastic increase in attorneys purporting to handle firearms law issues; yet, many have not handled a firearms law issue, have stolen our copyrighted content and/or have provided ineffective assistance of counsel to their clients. Accordingly, it is imperative that any prospective client properly vet an attorney prior to executing an engagement letter, let alone, at the time of being in the middle of the criminal process.
Recently, I spoke with an individual who fell prey to one of these firms. He was being prosecuted for making false statements in relation to the purchase of a firearm. His trial was less than a month away and the firm, other than advising him to turn down Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (“ARD” – which would NOT have resulted in a conviction), never filed an Omnibus motion or took any action to provide him with a defense, other than ignorance of the law…which, even non-attorneys are aware, is not a defense. Unfortunately for him, he is looking at substantial veracity charges and the District Attorney may no longer be willing to offer him ARD.
And then, there are those hundreds of clients that I have spoken to in the past year, where they were advised by their criminal defense attorney, sometimes a very esteemed and competent criminal defense attorney, that pleading guilty would not affect their firearm rights. After probation, they attempt to purchase a firearm, are denied and the Pennsylvania State Police brings charges against them for making false statements on the ATF 4473 form. In one such case, even an extremely knowledgeable judge stated on the record during sentencing that although the individual would be prohibited during probation, he would not lose his Second Amendment rights in perpetuity. That individual also attempted to purchase a firearm after being released from probation and was denied…
While I might have generally suggested that an individual start by reviewing the attorney’s or law firm’s website, this past year or so, our copyrighted information was stolen from our website and posted on another law firm’s website, so to convey to a prospective client that the other law firm was substantially experienced in firearms law matters. While it is flattering that the law firm recognized our substantial experience in the Firearms Industry and understood that our information was reliable, the theft of copyrighted information is criminal and there exists substantial civil remedies, as well.
Unfortunately, the theft of our website information was not the extent of other law firms taking our copyrighted materials in an attempt to mislead potential clients. In the last month, we became aware that a different law firm infringed upon our Gun Trust copyright and was selling it for a premium, over the fee that we charge. We also became aware that Attorney David Goldman of http://www.GunTrustLawyer.com recently had his copyrighted gun trust stolen by a competitor in another state.
While not as blatant, as they have at least changed the positioning of words and the sentence structure, some law firms have encroached upon our copyrighted information posted to our blog. It is absolutely amazing when you read our post, next to theirs, which were issued only several hours or days after ours. Again, while it is flattering, infringement on our intellectual property and misleading consumers should not be tolerated.
On a different front, following in our footsteps, some have started to offer seminars to the public on firearms law matters. Unfortunately, we have witnessed many occasions were they provide incorrect legal advice. Of course, the attendee is unaware of the incorrect information and if he/she relies on it to his/her detriment, it will be that individual that ends up being charged criminally.
While we welcome healthy competition, when another law firm elects to infringe upon our intellectual property and provide ineffective assistance of counsel, we cannot sit idly by and permit the consumer from being injured by misrepresentations. Unfortunately, it is difficult for us to provide you with proper questions to ask in this forum, as those other law firms are already reading our blog and will simply devise answers to those questions to completely undermine the credibility of any responses. The best advice that we can provide is to research your attorney, prior to hiring him/her. Review their bio and prior cases litigated, including those specific cases where the attorney is counsel of record. In that vein, see if their website or postings provide links to actual filings and review any relevant filings. Identify cases and issues where high-profile individuals and entities in the Firearms Industry have retained a particular attorney or firm and where that firm has been authorized to publicly acknowledge its representation of that individual or entity. Ask questions that only someone who lives, breathes and sleeps firearms law will know the answer to. And most importantly, check with your friends and family as to whether they have ever utilized an attorney in the context of a firearms law matter, as there generally is no better referral than from a former client.
If you ever have a firearms law issue, we are more than happy to assist you in the complex maze of state and federal laws and regulations. At Firearms Industry Consulting Group (FICG), our history, blogs and experience in representing those in the Firearms Industry show our steadfast devotion and dedication to protecting Article 1, Section 21 of the Pennsylvania Constitution and the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. When you want the best representation, we’ll be here to represent you and your grandchildren.