In the Matter of Farzad Naderi, Respondent. Appellate Case No. 2019-000061
Submitted March 27, 2019
S. Nichols, Disciplinary Counsel, and Sabrina C. Todd, Senior
Assistant Disciplinary Counsel, of Columbia, for the Office
of Disciplinary Counsel.
Naderi, of California, pro se.
a licensed California attorney, provided legal services in
South Carolina to a South Carolina resident without having
been admitted or authorized to practice law in this state, in
violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Following an
evidentiary hearing at which respondent did not appear, the
Hearing Panel of the Commission on Lawyer Conduct (the Panel)
recommended debarring respondent and ordering respondent pay
the cost of the proceedings and restitution to his South
Carolina client. As neither party sought review of the
Panel's report, the matter is now submitted for the
Court's consideration. We impose the sanctions
recommended by the Panel.
never having been admitted to practice law in South Carolina
or applying for pro hac vice admission, respondent provided
legal services in the state operating as the Pacific National
Law Center (PNLC).
December 2013, J.H., a South Carolina resident, homeowner,
and veteran, hired respondent to assist him in negotiating a
modification of his home loan. Individuals at PNLC assured
J.H. the firm could get his loan modified and decrease his
mortgage payments by securing both a balance reduction and a
lower, fixed interest rate. PNLC employees also promised J.H.
the firm would work diligently and return his calls within 48
signed several forms provided to him by PNLC staff, including
an "Attorney Client Retainer Agreement" and a
"Third Party Authorization and Release Form." The
release form permitted J.H.'s lender to discuss his home
loan with PNLC. Respondent was specifically named as the
individual permitted to discuss the loan on behalf of J.H.
The form listed respondent's title as
retainer agreement provided that, in exchange for a fee of
$2, 995, PNLC would provide "legal services,"
including "representation . . . for negotiation and
resolution of disputes with current lender(s) regarding the
subject real property and mortgage loan(s)." Pursuant to
the retainer agreement, litigation and litigation services
were excluded from the scope of the representation.
retainer agreement also provided that the fees paid by J.H.
were not conditioned on the outcome of his case, and
restricted J.H.'s ability to cancel the agreement and
seek a refund outside of the first five days after he signed
the agreement. After the five-day refund window, the
agreement required disputes over fees to be arbitrated
pursuant to the guidelines and standards adopted by the State
Bar of California. Other disputes would be resolved though
binding arbitration in accordance with the arbitration rules
of the bar association of Orange County, California. Finally,
the retainer agreement also indicated PNLC had no obligation
to retain J.H.'s file for any period of time following
the end of representation.
January, February, and March of 2014, J.H. made payments
pursuant to the retainer agreement totaling $2, 995, via
counter deposits into PNLC's bank account. J.H. provided
PNLC with all information and documentation they requested,
and PNLC told J.H. not to worry, the law firm would secure
the loan modification, and his lender would not take his
home. However, shortly after making his last payment, J.H.
began experiencing difficulties reaching anyone at PNLC. PNLC
never obtained a loan modification or offered J.H. any other
J.H. received notice of the foreclosure hearing, he was again
unable to reach anyone at PNLC. J.H. appeared by himself at
the foreclosure hearing, and eventually had to hire another
attorney and file for bankruptcy in order to save his home.
At the evidentiary hearing before the Panel, J.H. testified
that keeping up with his home loan payments had been a
struggle, but his home had not been foreclosed. J.H. further
testified he was unaware of ...