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Lawyers: Durham Woman Giving Legal Advice Without License

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DURHAM — A Durham woman has been accused of pretending to be a lawyer and taking hundreds ofdollars from Hispanics for legal work she never did.

Natalie Gonzalez runs a company called Justicia Para La Paz, or Justice For The Peace. But there has been no justice or peace for the people who say feel victimized.

Attorney Frances Miranda-Watkins says her client paid Gonzalez $800 to hand a DWIcharge, but Gonzalez did not do the work.

"My client understood that he was hiring an attorney...whether or not that's what she communicated is anotherstory," she says.

She also says Gonzalez is not qualified to practice law. She is now trying to clearup her client's legal problems.

For two years, the Durham County Public Defenders Office has been concerned aboutthe Justice For The Peace organization, and has told them not to contact their clients.

"I asked her exacty what she was doing," said assistant Public Defender Lawrence Campbell. "She indicated she ran a non-profit business that was assisting Hispanic clients...involved in the legal process."

Many Durham lawyers are concerned that Gonzalez is giving legal advice without a license.

"There are a lot of problems with that," says Watkins. "If you're not licensed topractice law, you could be givingadvice that's not appropriate, and a aperson's liberty could be at stake. [That's]the case with the gentleman I'mhelping out now."

Gonzalez referred questions to her lawyer but declined to identify him.

The North Carolina Bar Association has received a complaint about Gonzales, and theDurham County District Attorney'sOffice has also received complaints.


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