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James Sokolove’s RI Personal Injury Law Firm Saga -What a Long Strange Trip Its Been!

Opening an Injury and Car Crash law firm in Rhode Island- It sounds easy enough? Right?  Get a couple of RI Injury Attorneys, a secretary, a few computers and some desks and you are up and running?

NO WRONG- if your name is James Sokolove!!  James Sokolove’s long strange journey to open and sustain a Car Accident and Injury Firm in RI is important yet not well documented outside legal circles in the Ocean State.

Read a comprehensive article about James Sokolove by Boston Magazine here: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/2008/12/he-s-attorney-james-sokolove/ According to the article “Despite his prodigious success and his omnipresent image as a bulldog attorney, Sokolove hasn’t seen the inside of a courtroom in nearly three decades”

Also see the Above the Law Article:  James Sokolove Doesn’t Fix Problems, But He Knows People Who Can

The recent news is that in 2013, James Sokolove’s law firm was recently reinstated by the RI Supreme Court to practice law in RI.

In 2013, The Providence Journal reported: “PROVIDENCE –– The state Supreme Court has reinstated the license of Sokolove Law, the personal-injury firm that has spent millions nationwide advertising its services on television, to practice again in Rhode Island.” see: http://digital.olivesoftware.com/Olive/ODE/ProJo/LandingPage/LandingPage.aspx?href=VFBKLzIwMTMvMDUvMjE.&pageno=OA..&entity=QXIwMDgwMQ..&view=ZW50aXR5

This saga began in 2008 when several prominent RI Personal Injury Attorneys namely “D’Oliveria & Associates, P.C., DeLuca & Weizenbaum, Ltd., and the Law Offices of David Morowitz” objected “to the application of the respondent, James Sokolove (Sokolove), to register and practice law as a Rhode Island limited liability entity (Sokolove Law, LLC) in accordance with Article II, Rule 10 of the Supreme Court Rules for the Admission to Practice Law.” In re Application for Registration by the Law Offices of James Sokolove, LLC.  

ABA Journal Article: Lawyer Seeks Right to Advertise in R.I., a State in Which He Has No Office

Rhode Island Supreme Court Sokolove Decisionhttp://caselaw.findlaw.com/ri-supreme-court/1497989.html

Were these local Accident  Lawyers afraid of competing with a massive deep pocket national advertising machine such as Sokolove’s law firm? It certainly appears that is the case, considering these attorneys waged a full scale ‘war’ against Sokolove’s law firm gaining a foothold in RI. The RI Supreme Court pointed out that this was an unusual case. IdUnusual indeed!

“D’Oliveria & Associates, P.C., DeLuca & Weizenbaum, Ltd., and the Law Offices of David Morowitz” fought the war against Sokolove’s proposed RI Law Firm on three fronts.  “The petitioners have opposed Sokolove’s foray into Rhode Island on three fronts:  a complaint with the Supreme Court Disciplinary Counsel, a complaint with the Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee (UPLC), and the current matter-i.e., a petition to the Supreme Court objecting to Sokolove’s application for his LLC license.” In re Application for Registration by the Law Offices of James Sokolove, LLC.  

This “Turf war” went all the way up to the RI Supreme Court and D’Oliviera et al lost on every front.

According to the ABA Journal, there was a very fascinating exchange at oral arguments in the RI Supreme Court between Justice Flaherty  and Sokolove’s high powered lawyer John Tarantino:

“Said Flaherty: “He doesn’t solve any problems.”

Responded Sokolove’s lawyer, John Tarantino: “He solves your problems. There’s nothing in the law that says ‘I have to handle the case.’ ”

 http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/lawyer_seeks_right_to_advertise_in_r.i._1_of_2_states_in_which_he_has_no_of/

These Tort lawyers appeared to have lost all the battles when the RI Supreme court rejected their arguments and allowed Sokolove’s law firm to do business in Rhode Island in January 2010.

http://www.foxprovidence.com/dpps/news/james-sokolove-law-firm-to-open-local-branch-_3195255

http://rilawyersweekly.com/sidebar/2010/01/21/sokolove-can-form-llc-in-rhode-island/

June 2012: RI Supreme Court suspends Sokolove Law, LLC from Practicing Law in RI

Despite these accident,  Premises Liability, Wrongful Death and Medical Malpractice lawyers losing on every front,  it appeared that these lawyers may have lost all the battles but won the war by default when Sokolove’s law firm was suspended. The firm was suspended not as a result of anything those local Negligence attorneys did.

In the suspension order “The Court Stated “It is further ordered, adjudged, and decreed that Sokolove Law, LLC is hereby suspended from engaging in the practice of law in this state effective immediately and until further order of this Court.” Id.

Read the Suspension order here:

http://www.courts.ri.gov/Courts/SupremeCourt/OpinionsOrders/pdf-files/08-151.pdf

Prior to the Suspension order, Sokolove’s Law firm notified the State of Rhode Island that it replaced its attorney to a different accident attorney.  It seems that this notification prompted the RI Top Court to take decisive action.  The Court’s decision was probably confusing to a layperson. Nonetheless, the RI Supreme Court sitting in Providence pulled the plug until further order on Sokolove’s Law Firm.

The Providence Journal reported “But last June 29, a little over two years after granting the arrangement, the court revoked its license to practice here. The revocation came after Sokolove Law notified the court last April that it was replacing Farrell, who was moving his law practice to Florida, with Newport lawyer Peter M. Iascone. Iascone would be its new and only Rhode Island member, the court was told…The court refused to allow that because Iascone was simultaneously operating his own private law practice on Newport’s Bellevue Avenue under the name of his own firm, Peter M. Iascone & Associates Ltd.”

see: http://digital.olivesoftware.com/Olive/ODE/ProJo/LandingPage/LandingPage.aspx?href=VFBKLzIwMTMvMDUvMjE.&pageno=OA..&entity=QXIwMDgwMQ..&view=ZW50aXR5

As a basis for its suspension order, The RI Supreme Court reasoned:

“This matter came before the Court in conference on the change in circumstances submitted by Sokolove Law, LLC. On January 21, 2010 the Clerk’s Office issued Sokolove Law, LLC a license to practice law in Rhode Island as a limited liability company in accordance with this Court’s opinion in In re Law Offices of James Sokolove LLC, 986 A.2d 997, 1005 (R.I. 2010). On April 3, 2012, Sokolove Law notified the Clerk’s Office of a change to the facts set forth in its original application as required by Article II, Rule 10(e) of the Supreme Court Rules on the Admission to Practice Law — specifically, the replacement of Brian J. Farrell, who was listed in the original application as the sole Rhode Island attorney who would practice law in this state on behalf of the limited liability company. The change in circumstances lists Rhode Island Attorney Peter M. Iascone, with an address of 117 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island, as its only local attorney. The Newport address is the same address out of which Attorney Iascone has practiced law as Peter M. Iascone & Associates Ltd., an unlicensed professional service corporation which has been registered with the Rhode Island Secretary of State since April 11, 1986. In addition to practicing law as a professional service corporation without a license from this Court, Attorney Iascone has not obtained this Court’s approval to serve as “an officer, shareholder, director or employee of any other corporation” as required by G.L. 1956 § 7-5.1-3(a) of the Professional Service Corporations Act.” http://www.courts.ri.gov/Courts/SupremeCourt/OpinionsOrders/pdf-files/08-151.pdf

“Accordingly, it is hereby ordered that Attorney Iascone show cause, in writing, within thirty days of the issuance of this order as to why he is not in violation of § 7-5.1-3(a). It is further ordered, adjudged, and decreed that Sokolove Law, LLC is hereby suspended from engaging in the practice of law in this state effective immediately and until further order of this Court.”

http://www.courts.ri.gov/Courts/SupremeCourt/OpinionsOrders/pdf-files/08-151.pdf

In 2013, Sokolove Law Firm reinstated

After filing an affidavit to the Top Court in RI, Sokolove Law’s license was reinstated. The Providence Journal reported that “The firm’s Rhode Island member will be Paula A. Kelly, of East Providence. The court asked her to file an affidavit attesting that she will be working full-time as an employee of Sokolove Law and that she doesn’t practice for any other firm.” http://digital.olivesoftware.com/Olive/ODE/ProJo/LandingPage/LandingPage.aspx?href=VFBKLzIwMTMvMDUvMjE.&pageno=OA..&entity=QXIwMDgwMQ..&view=ZW50aXR5

 

 

 

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