3 On Your Side

Phoenix area residents get suspicious solicitation

Posted: Updated:
David Heim received a flyer on his door advertising attorney services. (Source: 3TV) David Heim received a flyer on his door advertising attorney services. (Source: 3TV)
Heim was suspicious that an attorney would try to drum up business by going door to door. (Source: 3TV) Heim was suspicious that an attorney would try to drum up business by going door to door. (Source: 3TV)
There were a number of things that popped up on a background report for a Barry L. Cox that mentioned "lawsuits," "liens" and "bankruptcies." (Source: 3TV) There were a number of things that popped up on a background report for a Barry L. Cox that mentioned "lawsuits," "liens" and "bankruptcies." (Source: 3TV)
According to the American Bar Association, the guy may be preparing documents without giving legal advice, which the bar says is still a violation. (Source: 3TV) According to the American Bar Association, the guy may be preparing documents without giving legal advice, which the bar says is still a violation. (Source: 3TV)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

Walk up to David Heim's front door, and you'll clearly see a no soliciting sign.

Still, that didn't stop someone from putting a flyer on his door advertising attorney services.

"I don't believe attorneys go door-to-door looking for business with a flyer," he said.

Heim was suspicious. And the more he looked at the flyer advertising for estate services, the more skeptical he became.

"This is the first side I saw," said Heim.

The flyer is reportedly from the professional office of Barry L. Cox. And with "esquire" following his name, that meant he's an attorney.

The flyer offers all kinds of estate planning and comes with a complimentary consultation. Heim soon noticed that additional services would cost hundreds or thousands of dollars depending on what assistance you need.

“I thought this is kind of odd,” he said.

Heim was suspicious that an attorney would try to drum up business by going door to door. So, he went online to see what he could dig up.

"Barry L. Cox pleads guilty to making a false statement to the IRS," he said.

There were a number of things that popped up on a background report for a Barry L. Cox that mentioned "lawsuits," "liens" and "bankruptcies." 

Troubled by what he found, Heim contacted 3 On Your Side.

"Just thought you'd be the best people to contact about it," he said.

3 On Your Side got involved and found that the P.O. Box listed on the flyer is in nearby Queen Creek and that someone named "Cox" used that exact same Queen Creek P.O. Box along with the same email to sue the Internal Revenue Service last year.

The case, according to court documents, was dismissed.

We also contacted the State Bar of Arizona. They tell 3 On Your Side in an email that, "We have no attorney licensed to practice law in Arizona by the name of "Barry L. Cox."

And according to the American Bar Association, the guy may be preparing documents without giving legal advice, which the bar says is still a violation.

As for Cox, we emailed our findings and he responded by insisting, "A lawyer is not required," and he went on to say that he believes "... it is important to the public to expose the incompetency [sic] of the Bar Association."

He also failed to explain why he's advertising himself as an attorney when he's not in Arizona. Heim goes on to say:

"You really do have to be cautious about what you're getting into here I kind of look at it talk to other people and go with recommendations when you're unsure about this don't always look for the cheapest thing around or the most convenient things that may get stuck on your door could be real trouble."

By the way, you can do a free online search to see if a person is licensed to practice law in Arizona, just click here.

3 On Your Side received a pair of statements from the State Bar of Arizona, they can be read below:

2/26/18

"We have no attorney licensed to practice law in Arizona by the name of Barry L Cox. I also checked the database for Licensed Document Preparers (which is managed by the Arizona Supreme Court). There is no one by that name nor a company called Professional Advisory Services. I also looked for the email address to see if it was associated with another company, and it is not.

Which leaves three possibilities. He is either:

An attorney from another state who is practicing here without a license

He is preparing documents (without giving legal advice) in violation of the court’s rules

He is performing the unauthorized practice of law

Any person who gives legal advice in Arizona must be a licensed attorney. In the vast majority of cases, they must be licensed by the State Bar of Arizona. There are some exceptions such as attorneys who only practice in federal court (such as immigration or bankruptcy) or are working as in-house counsel. Any person giving estate planning advice to individuals must be licensed as an attorney in Arizona.

He calls himself a “Legal Document Writer” which would imply that he’s not giving legal advice. However, to do that he must be licensed with the court. They are also not allowed to give legal advice. They can only prepare documents.

If he is giving legal advice then he is violating the court’s rules for the unauthorized practice of law. Having said that, unlike some states, Arizona has no criminal statute relating to UPL. The State Bar of Arizona has the responsibility to investigate but we only have the ability to request civil sanctions such as a cease and desist. However, if the person is taking money under false pretenses, it could potentially be considered criminal fraud.

Incidentally, any time we see someone who is not an attorney using the “esq” designation after their name we will request that they stop doing so. It’s possible this person has a law degree but is not currently licensed. However, using the “esq” implies they are a legitimate attorney."

3/12/18

"It is not the Bar that has established the rules for giving legal advice. The Arizona Supreme Court has determined that anyone who gives legal advice must be a licensed attorney.

Mr. Cox talks about the attorney’s fiduciary responsibility. It’s important to point out that attorneys must live up to the rules of professional conduct. In addition to the quality of legal representation these rules addresses everything from fees that are “reasonable” to communication with clients. The Bar is responsible for enforcing those standards. Someone operating outside this system would have no such responsibility and no accountability.

Mr. Cox is correct when he says that there is no law requiring a lawyer to write legal documents, only in giving legal advice. However, there is a law that says anyone writing those documents on behalf of a consumer must be a licensed legal document preparer. Mr. Cox has apparently failed to take that step."

3 On Your Side also received a statement as follows from the person calling himself Barry L. Cox.

[PDF: Statement from "Barry L. Cox"]

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Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

Click to learn more about Gary.

Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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