Notary Bulletin

Law Firms Closed, Sanctioned Over 'Robo-Signing' Abuses

Law firms heavily involved in the “robo-signing” crisis of recent years are continuing to be held accountable for their actions, with a major Florida foreclosure firm closing its doors and a Maryland attorney facing severe sanctions.

According to a preliminary consent agreement with the Florida Bar Association, the Ft. Lauderdale-based Watson Firm, headed by Marshall C. Watson, has agreed to close its doors, and Watson will accept a 91-day suspension of his license to practice law.

The bar association accused Watson and his firm of improperly processing, signing and notarizing hundreds of thousands of foreclosure-related affidavits. At the height of the foreclosure crisis, the Watson Firm employed 71 attorneys, 597 support staff, and handled 66,000 foreclosure cases.

In a separate action, Maryland Attorney Thomas P. Dore is facing sanctions after a state court ruled that his firm violated the rules of professional conduct as a result of its “robo-signing” practices, according to local media reports. Dore was accused of having his employees sign his name to affidavits, which were then notarized by other employees.

Notary Privacy Guard Dore’s law firm has been forced to pay to correct the improperly signed affidavits, and has been required by the court to institute new procedures to prevent future errors.

These two cases follow other high-profile law firm closings, including that of Florida-based, self-proclaimed “Foreclosure King” David Stern, whose client list, prior to his fall from grace, included major Wall Street heavy hitters, many of which are parties to the National Mortgage Settlement.

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