Justices order nonlawyer to stop family law services

An Indianapolis woman who is not a licensed attorney but has consistently provided legal assistance to Indiana residents with child support and parenting time issues has been enjoined from continuing in her unauthorized practice of law.

The Indiana Supreme Court accepted a settlement agreement between the Disciplinary Commission and Dawn Baker on Wednesday in an order permanently enjoining her from the unauthorized practice of law. According to an April 13 petition, Baker operates Child Support Consulting of Indiana, an organization that offers legal assistance related to child support and parenting time.

Baker’s website, childsupportconsulting.com, previously advertised that her company could “provide services related to paternity affidavits, child support orders, emancipation and other family law issues.” Those advertisements were removed when the commission initially contacted Baker in 2011. Today, the website contains only Baker’s contact information.

After Baker’s initial contact with the commission, she entered into agreements with Recycle Force and Fathers and Families Center, two organizations designed to help individuals recently released from jail and fathers, respectively. Recycle Force paid Baker $2,500 per month to assist its customers with child support issues, while Fathers and Families paid her $250 per individual.

Through her work with the organizations, Baker contacted the Child Support Division of the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, gathered information about their clients’ child support cases and determined whether the division was willing to offer relief. She also assisted clients with finding and completing self-service forms.

None of Baker’s work was supervised by an attorney. Her attorney for the Disciplinary Commission’s petition, James Bell of Paganelli Law Group, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The injunction does not prohibit Baker from working for a lawyer or law firm as a non-lawyer assistant as long as she abides by the terms of the injunction and settlement agreement. All justices concurred except Justice Steven David, who voted to reject the agreement.

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