Attorneys hungry for business are increasingly specializing in activities only loosely connected with the practice of law, debt collection and mortgage modification being the two most prominent examples.

Attorneys are, in some cases, able to evade consumer protection laws that might apply to more traditional debt collectors and debt counseling services. But in Oregon,Attorney General John Krogerrecentlyannounced an agreement that shuts down a Eugene-based law firm that was the subject of dozens of complaints about its debt collection practices.

In addition to closing down McGavic & Finney PC, the settlement requires founding partner Derrick E. McGavic to pay $70,000 and surrender his license to practice law.

"At a time when many Oregonians are struggling to manage their debt, the Department of Justice is committed to holding unscrupulous debt collectors accountable," said Keith Dubanevich, Chief of Staff and Special Counsel to Attorney General Kroger.

The state started investigating McGavic and his partner Kristan Finney after receiving more than 90 complaints against their law firm, Dubanevich said. McGavic was simultaneously undergoing an investigation by the Oregon State Bar.

McGavic & Finney specialized in representing national debt collectors that buy defaulted consumer obligations in massive quantities on the secondary market – often for pennies on the dollar.

Consumer complaints filed with the Oregon Department of Justice accused McGavic of systematically ignoring debtor protections and rights afforded under the Oregon and Federal Debt Collection Protection Acts. For example, McGavic allegedly misidentified or purposefully confused the identity of creditors in documentation to delay consumers' response and thus increase fees and interest payable to McGavic and his clients.

Notices issued by McGavic allegedly omitted specific information related to the amount of the defaulted debt and failed to provide proper verification of debts when requested by consumers. Similarly, McGavic allegedly repeatedly called debtors who had requested in writing not to be called.

The Department of Justice's investigation also uncovered McGavic's pattern of falsifying fee affidavits in Motions for Default Judgments by claiming services he did not perform. In addition, McGavic allegedly provided his office staff with a schedule to be used to arbitrarily increase the fees claimed - depending on the amount of money claimed or the venue of the action.

The agreement filed March 16 in Lane County Circuit Court requires Derrick McGavic to pay $70,000 to the Oregon Department of Justice to reimburse the cost of the investigation; dissolve the law firm of McGavic & Finney, PC; and resign from the Oregon State Bar.

McGavic is further prohibited from acting as a debt collector or operating a law firm or a collection agency in the State of Oregon. Kristan Finney may continue to operate under a different business or firm, subject to numerous stringent injunctive provisions specified in the settlement agreement.