While Roberta Guedes had a law degree, graduating from law school and having taken the Bar exam, she did not pass. Without passing the Bar exam and being appropriately granted a license to practice law in a state, one is not actually an attorney. Despite the fact she did not pass the Bar, Guedes opened her own law firm and began representing clients. Those people, of course, had no idea Guedes was not in fact a licensed attorney. She used a colleagues Bar number, a number assigned to every attorney by the state and often required to be submitted on court documents.
Guedes is also facing criminal charges for forming fraudulent businesses, stealing the colleague’s identity and obtaining loans in her name, and taking money from her “clients.” It was discovered by a court Guedes was not, in fact, a licensed attorney when the court attempted to find her phone number by looking it up on the Florida Bar’s website. All attorneys in a state are registered with the Bar and can be publically found. Guedes has a court date of December on the criminal charges and purported only to be assisting people with court paperwork and translation services. She has agreed to pay back the money and never hold herself out as an attorney again.
In Kentucky, lawyers must be registered with the Kentucky Bar Association. You can find a lawyer by going to Kybar.org and clicking on Lawyer Locator. There, put in the attorneys name and click “Continue.” Once the attorney comes up in the search, you can click on his or her name to find some additional information, including his or her address and phone number, as well as whether he or she has ever received any public discipline related to the practice of law. Lawyers in Kentucky are also now required to report to the Bar whether or not they carry malpractice insurance, though that information is not publically available. It may come as a surprise to you, but lawyers in Kentucky are not required to carry malpractice insurance. When hiring an attorney, you should look him or her up on the Bar’s website and inquire as to whether or not he or she carries malpractice insurance. The attorneys at The Poppe Law Firm do.