Mohamed Fouzi Haffar, 33, San Diego, California, California state bar number 235731, was disbarred June 21, 2012, and was ordered to make restitution and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.
Haffar stipulated to 36 counts of misconduct in nine loan modification cases.
In the nine matters that resulted in admissions of wrongdoing, Haffar variously failed to provide competent legal services or refund unearned fees, he improperly solicited prospective clients with whom he had no family or prior professional relationship, he violated a state law that prohibits payment of advance fees in loan modification matters, and he helped non-lawyers engage in the unauthorized practice of law by allowing them to give legal advice.
In a typical matter, Haffar solicited the representation of a couple whom he said qualified for a home loan modification; his office, he said, could get their monthly payment lowered and obtain a 3 percent interest rate on their loan. The couple hired him and paid an advance fee of $3,500. Haffar did not obtain a loan modification and the clients demanded a refund. They were never able to speak directly with Haffar, who allowed the non-attorney staff to give them legal advice.
In mitigation, Haffar cooperated with the bar’s investigation and agreed to disbarment without a trial. Had he testified, he would have stated that he only started to practice law in 2008 and found himself overwhelmed by loan modification matters. He also had financial problems and as a condition of marrying his wife, had to obtain Syrian citizenship, requiring extensive travel and time-consuming appointments.