LOS ANGELES (CNS) — The State Bar is suing a business that caters to Salvadoran immigrants, alleging its advertising falsely suggests that clients can obtain legal services even though none of the employees are attorneys.
The suit — filed Monday, April 4 — asks that Salvadorean Legal Services on Olympic Boulevard be banned from using words translated from English into Spanish or any other language suggesting to clients that the people who work there are lawyers. The suit also seeks civil penalties of up to $1,000 daily for each alleged violation.
Co-defendants Jose Alejandro Vanegas and his son, Marvin Alexander Vanegas, are general partners in the business, according to the complaint.
Marvin Vanegas told City News Service that he and his father did not engage in any misconduct, but were not fully aware of the laws concerning advertising and are making changes to put them in compliance.
Since at least March 2015, the business has used “notario publico” in its advertising in violation of the state Business and Professions Code, the suit alleges. In Spanish-speaking countries, “notario publicos” are trained legal professionals akin to lawyers.
The firm also has used the Spanish equivalent words of “lawyers” and “law office” in fliers, on business cards, on its exterior business sign and on its websites salvadoreanlegalservices.com and duielsalvador.com, according to the complaint.
“None of the defendants has ever been licensed to practice law in the state of California,” according to the lawsuit.