Claiming deceptive Web advertising by LegalMatch, Maine’s Pine Tree Legal Assistance, a nonprofit agency that provides legal services to the poor, has sued the San Francisco business in federal court in Portland.

The suit alleges that when users type “Pine Tree Legal Assistance” in Web search engines, LegalMatch’s advertisements appear in the results. The ads say, “Find Pine Tree Legal Assistance Services” and link to LegalMatch’s Web site. LegalMatch is a company that describes itself as an “attorney/client matching service.”

A report on the suit in the Portland Press Herald quotes Hugh Calkins, PTLA’s director of research and development: “The case is about people trying to mislead our client population to commercial Web sites that they can’t afford.”

PTLA’s suit seeks damages against the San Francisco-based online company for trademark infringement, unfair and deceptive trade practices, and false advertisement.

Lawyers from the law firms Bernstein Shur and Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi are representing PTLA at no cost.

  • Anonymous

    “The case is about people trying to mislead our client population to commercial Web sites that they can’t afford.”

    LegalMatch is free?

  • LegalMatch and Pine Tree Legal Assistance Amicably Agree to Settlement

    SAN FRANCISCO, CA (April 3, 2006) – LegalMatch, a national provider of online legal services, and Pine Tree Legal Assistance, a nonprofit company that provides legal services for Maine’s poor, have reached an amicable settlement in a legal dispute that LegalMatch calls, “More of a misunderstanding than a lawsuit.”

    According to the original suit, advertisements from California-based LegalMatch appeared when a computer user typed “Pine Tree Legal Assistance” into Web search engines including Yahoo!, MSN, and Google. The suit, filed on February 28, 2006 in U.S. District Court on behalf of Pine Tree Legal Assistance, has now been settled with no monies changing hands.

    According to Don Keane, Vice President of Marketing for LegalMatch, “We [LegalMatch] are working with the nation’s major search engines, including Google, Yahoo, and MSN, to make sure non-profits are not part of our multi-million dollar search engine marketing program. We have the greatest respect for non-profit agencies that service people’s legal needs,” says Keane. LegalMatch is a free online legal matching service based in San Francisco, California, and Pine Tree Legal Assistance is a non-profit provider of free legal services to people in need and serving the State of Maine.

    About LegalMatch
    Established in 1999, with a formal site-launch in 2000, LegalMatch is a leading national provider of online legal services. Corporate offices are located in San Francisco and Los Angeles. For more information regarding the company, please contact Don Keane, Vice-President of Marketing at (415) 946-0855.

    About Pine Tree Legal Assistance Service
    Pine Tree Legal Assistance is a nonprofit corporation with 501(c)(3) status established in 1966 by private attorneys in Maine to meet the need for legal assistance by low-income residents. Over the past 35 years, Pine Tree has become a recognized part of the justice system in Maine, providing help to over 350,000 Maine people since its doors first opened.

  • Anonymous

    Shame on LegalMatch. They have reached a new low, even for them.