Attorney-in-fact not an attorney, in fact.

Strange.  Another week, and another alleged con artist accused of pretending to be a lawyer. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

A man who posed as a lawyer to represent people in small claims, divorce and civil matters in Milwaukee while using the State Bar number of an actual lawyer in Minnesota was sentenced Thursday to 2½ years in prison.

Thomas J. Lyon, 28, was charged in December with eight counts ranging from practicing law without a license to identity theft and forgery related to his operation of Thomas J. Lyon & Associates and a website that led many clients to believe he was a licensed attorney.

According to the story, Lyon liked to brag that he was like Frank Abignale, Jr., who portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in “Catch Me If You Can.” So maybe I should remove that “alleged.”

The JS also tracked down a victim:

One former client told Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Richard Sankovitz that Lyon had advised him not to comply with a court commissioner’s orders in his divorce case.

“Now I’m facing contempt,” said Donald Marshall, and he is still out the $350 he paid Lyon, whom he found on the Internet.

Here’s an idea: If you don’t want to be caught practicing law without a license, don’t give people advice like “Court order, shmourt order.”

His website, which is a champion when it comes to the use of irrelevant clip art offers a list of specialties that might as well say “Help me help youuuuu.”


-Landlord/Tenant Disputes

-Family Matters (Custody, Support, Divorce, etc.)

-Restraining Orders

-Process Service

-Creditor Negotiation

-Debt Collection

-Debt Collector Privacy and Harassment Violations

-Contract Negotiation

-Room Mate Disputes [DUDE, YOU TOOK MY LAST BEER.]


-Document Review / Creation

-Last Will and Testament

-Notary Public Service

-Document Filing [HE FILES DOCUMENTS!]

-So Much More… Just Ask!

So he does bankruptcy, AND debt collection, AND debt collector privacy and harassment. So he’ll take your bankruptcy, and your debt, then sue himself for harassing you. Now that’s job security.

The appropriately named Lyon’s defense? I told them I’m not attorney per se.

In a letter to Sankovitz, Lyon said he had clients sign waivers that explained he was only acting as attorney-in-fact, not attorney at law. The judge pointed out that most clients wouldn’t know the difference, and that the one group famous in Wisconsin for using the term attorney-in-fact was the Posse Comitatus, a group that opposes and refuses to recognize federal and state governments.

His website does offer this disclaimer:

Note:  Most services are provided by paralegals.

Paralegals = him.

The guy was ordered to pay restitution to at least some of the clients he bilked, as well as spending 2 1/2 years in the joint and a two year probation where he’s not allowed to do any work related to legal services.


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