Tenn. woman punished for immigration petitions

By Bryan Cohen | Oct 24, 2012

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Legal Newsline) - Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper announced on Wednesday that Martha Salazar has been permanently enjoined from practicing law without a license and must refund consumers for whom she has done work.

Salazar, doing business as Comunidad Hispana, allegedly prepared immigration petitions, custody agreements and contracts, and provided other legal services to primarily Spanish-speaking consumers. Salazar does not have a license to practice law and did not work under the supervision of an attorney.

"We are grateful to the court for this decision," Cooper said. "Practicing law without a license can lead to extremely serious consequences to those who are dependent upon their legal representative to help them in so many areas of their lives. This is especially true when there can be confusion in the culture or language of those employing a lawyer."

Salazar allegedly advertised that she could provide "notario public" services without adding the legally required notice that a notary public is not a lawyer. Notaries publics, in many Spanish-speaking nations, are highly trained, licensed practitioners who provide a full range of regulated legal services. The similar translation of "notary public" in the U.S. can allow for the opportunity to mislead consumers regarding qualifications.

Davidson County Judge Amanda McClendon entered an agreed final judgment this week to permanently stop Salazar from violating unauthorized practice of law statutes and consumer protection laws. Salazar is prohibited by the action from advertising or providing legal services.

The action also requires her to provide restitution to those to whom she provided service.

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