Monday, October 25, 2021

Drone lawyers and kickbacks

bettercallsaul

Its quite amazing what happens when you shake the tree. One story opened up many others.

I was contacted by no less than five folks with stories to tell. It might just be that they are competition but some were worth investigation. I was also contacted by a group of folks that suddenly seemed very interested in sUAS News. All of them said nice things and then mentioned other people that had come up in the group of five emails.

What I find most interesting is that I am only getting reports of dodgy dealings from a country with regulations very much in flux. A country that enjoys a thousand different opinions of what you can and can’t do.

Come on FAA get on with it, you are creating a market for folks to be hoodwinked.

Anyhow, I was pointed to a post online….

Alan Perlman on Feb 18, 2016 posted here http://community.uavcoach.com/topic/280-real-estate-photography/ “Cheap templates are available if you want to go that route, but I have yet to see any company offering those templates with a real track record of getting them approved. The only companies who are doing it right are Gowdy Brothers (who I currently work with as an independent reseller) and DroneLaw.pro.”

If you go to (http://uavcoach.com/drone-certification/) you’ll see that UAVCoach is marketing for
DroneLaw.pro. It says, “UAV Coach is an independent contractor for DroneLaw Pro (Traverse Legal), a UAS law firm who offers 333 exemption and legal support for your UAS company.”

AlanPerlmankickbacks1

On the Terms of Service page (uavcoach.com/terms-of-use), UAVCoach says, “Our Section 333 information, and contact forms provide leads to the drone attorneys at www.dronelaw.pro / www.traverselegal.com.

uavcoachmarch16

UAV Coach is perhaps paid a flat referral fee by traverselegal.com for converted leads originating from this website.” Dronelaw.pro is giving fees to UAVcoach who is lead generating for him. I doubt very much that Alan realizes that kickbacks are prohibited by the Michigan Bar rules which govern Dronelaw.pros ethical behavior.

The Michigan Bar even wrote a lengthy letter on this particular topic posted here.

http://www.michbar.org/opinions/ethics/numbered_opinions/ri-365

It said “Formal Opinion R-6 concludes that Michigan lawyers ethically cannot participate in a for-profit referral service. According to this Opinion, a lawyer “is allowed to pay for advertising permitted by the Rules, but is not permitted to pay another person or for-profit agency for channeling professional work” and that “a profit-making entity which markets lawyers’ services generally as well as to a defined interest group for a fee to be paid by the lawyers participating is a lawyer referral service violating MRPC 7.2(c),” concluding that, “It does not matter whether the LRS calls itself a ‘referral service group advertising’ or some other name, if in fact a referral is made . . . .””

If the fees being paid to Alan Perlman of UAVCoach.com were legal fees from clients who were the “converted leads”, Enrico of Dronelaw Pro could also be violating a second bar rule.

Michigan Bar Rules say (http://www.michbar.org/opinions/ethics/articles/feb00)

“Further, MRPC 5.4(a) applies to fee sharing with non-lawyers. That rule provides:

A lawyer or law firm shall not share legal fees with a non-lawyer, except that:

  1. an agreement by a lawyer with the lawyer’s firm, partner, or associate may provide for the payment of money, over a reasonable period of time after the lawyer’s death, to the lawyer’s estate, or to one or more specified persons;
  2. a lawyer who purchases the practice of a deceased, disabled, or disappeared lawyer may pay to the estate or other representative of that lawyer the agreed-upon purchase price pursuant to the provisions of Rule 1.17; and
  3. a lawyer or law firm may include nonlawyer employees in a compensation or retirement plan, even though the plan is based in whole or in part on a profit-sharing arrangement.”

I have reached out to the Michigan Bar and FAA and have as yet not had any response. I have a feeling after posting this I will!

If you go here, (https://www.dronelaw.pro/category/drone-uses/) you’ll notice that Enrico is also returning the favor and advertising for UAVCoach.com

uavcoachcourse

The Michigan Bar goes on to state:

“Lawyers may not give anything of value to a person who recommends the lawyer’s services, other thandronelawflyingquick paying the reasonable cost of advertising or by participating in a not-for-profit referral service. See RI-191. Furthermore, ethics opinion RI-146 opines that a lawyer may not accept a referral fee from other professionals for sending the lawyer’s clients to the other professional, due to conflict of interest
considerations.”

If Enrico of Dronelaw.Pro is making kickbacks from UAVCoach, DroneLaw.Pro will be violating another set of bar rules by referring his clients to UAV Coach.

http://www.michbar.org/opinions/ethics/numbered_opinions/ri-146

Enrico has been a member of the bar since February 1990. (26 years).

http://michbar.directory.zeekbeek.com/sbm

Enrico was required to take a membership oath to be a member of the Minnesota State Bar. One of the portions of the Oath Enrico agreed to was “in all other respects conduct myself personally and professionally in conformity with the high standards of conduct imposed upon members of the bar as conditions for the privilege to practice law in this State.” http://www.michbar.org/generalinfo/lawyersoath

Dronelaw.pro’s advertisements and Alans assertions of speed are not accurate. It is claimed people can get flying “within weeks rather than months”

If you search Regulations.gov, you’ll find as I researched this last month that Enrico has only 15 exemptions approved.

Name Docket Filing Approval Days Months
SWAT Consulting, Inc. FAA-2015-7609 10/13/2015 4/20/2016 190 6.333333333
Aerial Works Inc. FAA-2015-7376 10/7/2015 4/14/2016 190 6.333333333
AgTech, Inc. FAA-2015-7317 9/24/2015 4/13/2016 202 6.733333333
Lee Aerial Photography and Solutions LLC FAA-2015-7276 10/5/2015 4/7/2016 185 6.166666667
Northern Michigan Drone, LLC FAA-2015-6667 9/17/2015 4/7/2016 203 6.766666667
NOLA DroneWORX, LLC FAA-2015-7387 10/7/2015 4/12/2016 188 6.266666667
Truant Sports Entertainment, LLC FAA-2015-6928 9/23/2015 3/30/2016 189 6.3
AllDroneUp Productions LLC FAA-2015-6937 9/22/2015 3/30/2016 190 6.333333333
Kaono Media, LLC FAA-2015-6873 9/10/2015 3/24/2016 196 6.533333333
Produce 2 Broadcast, LLC FAA-2015-6655 9/17/2015 3/22/2016 187 6.233333333
AGL Productions, LLC FAA-2015-6446 9/15/2015 3/15/2016 182 6.066666667
Drones Up There, LLC FAA-2015-6219 9/4/2015 3/8/2016 186 6.2
Florida Drone, LLC FAA-2015-6181 9/3/2015 3/7/2016 186 6.2
Zero Gravity Data, LLC FAA-2015-6006 8/28/2015 2/23/2016 179 5.966666667
Brual, LLC FAA-2015-5917 6/24/2015 2/22/2016 243 8.1

 

The best Enrico ever did for his client with the 333 exemption was 6.06 months. The worst he did was 8.1 months. So when he says he can get you flying within weeks rather than months, the facts do not show that.

 

Gary Mortimer
Founder and Editor of sUAS News | Gary Mortimer has been a commercial balloon pilot for 25 years and also flies full-size helicopters. Prior to that, he made tea and coffee in air traffic control towers across the UK as a member of the Royal Air Force.