Boise legal-help firm morphs after settling suit

The firm changed its name and advertising approach after Idaho’s attorney general accused it of offering legal advice without a license.

krodine@idahostatesman.comNovember 7, 2013 

Mark S. Wicklund, CEO of the now-defunct White Hat Group, is now doing business as Rely on Us with a new business location and website.

The move came after Wicklund agreed to pay up to $8,000 in restitution to complaining White Hat clients and cover the costs of the Idaho Attorney General’s Office investigation into White Hat. He also agreed to cease activities the Idaho Attorney General’s Office alleged constituted practicing law without a license. He faces a $50,000 civil penalty if he does not comply with those terms, said Brett DeLange, head of the AG’s consumer protection division.

Wicklund referred questions to his attorney, Brian Blender, who did not return a telephone call seeking comment

Former White Hat customers have until Dec. 2 to file a complaint that could get them a chunk of the $8,000 in restitution. The Attorney General’s website notes that, depending on how many claims are filed, customers are likely not to receive the full amount they paid to White Hat.

Complaint forms are available on the Attorney General’s website at www.ag.idaho.gov under Consumer Protection or by calling (208) 334-2424.

The AG’s office filed suit against White Hat in August after investigating complaints from former customers who claimed that they didn’t receive the services they paid for and that Wicklund said he was qualified to give legal advice. Attorney General Lawrence Wasden announced the settlement Oct. 25.

White Hat had advertised “a wide range of legal services” from “a team of experienced professionals with years of experience in the legal field.” Services they listed ranged from notary and process-serving functions to help answering civil complaints and assistance with family law, unemployment issues and wills. White Hat advertised services to attorneys such as “overflow paralegal services.”

Wicklund’s new company, which uses a phone number previously attributed to White Hat, is located at 925 S. Allante Place, off Maple Grove Road south of Interstate 84. According to its Facebook page, Rely on Us Inc. offers paralegal services and assistance to law firms. The page features Wicklund’s business card, which says he holds a law degree.

Wicklund applied to take the Idaho bar exam in 1998 but has never been licensed to practice law in this state, an Idaho State Bar Association spokesman said. “Consumers must be cautious of non-attorneys who advertise legal services,” Wasden said in a news release. “Unlicensed persons too often prey on people in need of immediate legal assistance and, on occasion, consumers who do not speak English. Paying thousands of dollars to persons who are unfamiliar with Idaho’s legal system and laws only compounds the consumers’ difficulties.”

Kristin Rodine: 377-6447

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