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Saturday, March 2, 2024

Korean-American broker receives State Bar warning for unauthorized legal practice

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The State Bar of California sent a warning letter to a broker who has been providing legal services including arbitration of labor law fines to the LA’s Korean-American fashion industry. The letter warns that the broker could be subject to penalties if he continues to practice law without a proper license.

The Korea Daily obtained the warning letter to review the case. The incident is outlined in chronological order.

According to the State Bar of California, the incident began on April 19, 2019. An owner of a garment company in the LA with surname Kim was introduced to broker Chris Park for a labor law case.

Businessman and lawyer discuss the contract document. Treaty of the law. Sign a contract business.


Broker Park told Kim that he “had extensive experience in labor law issues” and that he would “have attorney Kelly Casado complete” the work for matters he is unable to do, the warning letter states.

Although Kim then paid the broker, Park, a total of $4,000 in fees, the case was never resolved but rather worsened.

It wasn’t until June 24, 2021, nearly two years after paying the fees that Kim received a letter from the other side’s lawyers regarding discovery, a pre-trial process.

“Mr. Kim was also at this time made aware that he had been personally (as opposed to the company) named as a defendant in the matter. On July 1, 2021, Mr. Kim met with Mr. Casado for the first time.”

According to the warning letter, this was the first time Kim met with a lawyer in more than 800 days after paying the broker Park. Park then reassured Kim that “everything would be fine” and even told him that “now is the best time to settle” because “every document necessary for court was submitted,” according to the letter. However, on May 3, 2022, Kim texted Park to see if he had heard back from opposing counsel and Park said “no.”

The second time Kim met with Casado was on November 7, 2022, according to the warning letter. In three years of paying for lawful services, Kim had only two consultations with the attorney about the case.

“Mr. Casado said that he was sick and that the case was too difficult for him and told Mr. Kim to find another lawyer,” the letter says, “and he left the meeting without informing Mr. Kim that the trial of the case would begin on November 23, 2022.”

In other words, after relying on broker Park for over three years, Kim was forced to find a new lawyer just over a month before the trial.

According to the document, Park gave Kim a business card that read “CLLCC (California Labor Law Compliance Consulting). The business card also listed the names of government agencies, including the CAL OSHA (Division of Occupational Safety and Health), IRS (Internal Revenue Service), and the EDD (Employment Development Department with Park’s name.

The warning letter refers to Park’s response to the State Bar of California that he stated that he never claimed to be an attorney and that he worked for a licensed lawyer.”

The State Bar pointed out that it found no evidence to Park’s knowledge that he was ever employed by an attorney and that an attorney supervised his work on Kim’s case, while the address of CLLCC provided by Park (3600 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 1804) was not the address of Casado’s office. Also, it noted that Park’s statements to Kim constituted the provision of legal advice and that Park set up and received fees through checks made to him.

In the warning letter, the State Bar of California stated that “engaging in the unauthorized practice of law may result in serious legal consequences if a court determines that you have violated the law” and that “the unauthorized practice of law is a crime, punishable by jail and/or by fine, and unauthorized practice of law is contempt of court and may be punished.”

In a statement to the Korea Daily on February 8, Ki-joon Kim, a lawyer representing Park said, “Mr. Park has returned all of his fees,” adding, “The State Bar of California ‘s warning itself is not legally binding.”

The investigation was conducted by Kyuhee Han, a lawyer from the State Bar of California’s Office of Chief Trial Counsel (OCTC). Based on the results of the investigation, the state bar sent a warning letter to broker Park.

BY YEOL JANG, HOONSIK WOO    [jang.yeol@koreadaily.com]