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Press Release

Attorney General Josh Shapiro Sues To Stop Unauthorized Practice of Law in NEPA

August 28, 2020 | Topic: Criminal

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced that his office filed suit against Juliane Von Schmeling and her company, The Baroness Consulting & Mediation, LLC, for engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.

“Juliane Von Schmeling misled Pennsylvanians to believe that she was a licensed attorney, but instead scammed vulnerable, stressed consumers into paying for useless services,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “Acting as a licensed attorney when you have no qualifications is dishonest, illegal, and unethical.” 

Von Schmeling advertised mediation services in the Northeastern Pennsylvania area with advertisements which implied that Von Schmeling and The Baroness Consulting were qualified to provide legal services, when Von Schmeling was not a licensed attorney. The Baroness advertised mediation and consulting services relating to divorce, custody, support, workplace and employment disputes, contractual disputes, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. She claimed that her agreements were “legally binding and enforceable, just like traditional court orders.” 

During the midst of Governor Wolf’s stay-at-home Order, Von Schmeling capitalized on consumers’ fears and the COVID-19 pandemic by advertising legal services relating to estate planning and wills. The firm also advertised for family law services that, “Even though many courthouses and magistrate offices are currently closed or delayed indefinitely, the Baroness can still mediate and legally resolve your case remotely – locally or globally. Don’t let COVID-19 negatively affect your happiness and well-being any longer.”

The unauthorized practice of law jeopardizes consumers’ legal rights and their ability to seek a remedial measure in the event of malpractice or misguided legal advice. Von Schmeling offered and provided unlearned, inadequate, and inexpert legal services which impacted, among other things, consumers’ parental, property, inheritance, contractual and employment legal rights and obligations. 

The Attorney General’s office received a complaint alleging that a consumer retained the Defendants’ services to handle a divorce, custody and support matter. The consumer was informed by Von Schmeling that the legal documents, which she drafted, were enforceable in a court of law. When the consumer began legal proceedings, however, none of the agreements were enforceable and the consumer subsequently incurred tens of thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees to properly adjudicate her legal claims. 

The Attorney General’s lawsuit alleges violations of the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law and the Unauthorized Practice of Law. In connection with its lawsuit, the Office of Attorney General is seeking restitution for consumers, civil penalties and injunctive relief to ensure compliance with Pennsylvania laws.

Consumers who believe they have been victimized by the defendants should file a complaint at www.attorneygeneral.gov or email scams@attorneygeneral.gov.

The lawsuit was filed in Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas by Deputy Attorney General Merna Hoffman.

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