In Santos v. LVNV funding, LLC, 2012 WL 3985527 (N.D.Cal. 2012), Judge Davila found that individual lawyers are exempt from the Rosenthal Act, but law firms are not.
The parties point to a split in authority as to whether a law firm can be considered a “debt collector.” Plaintiff asserts that twelve of the fifteen district courts that have considered this issue have found that law firms can qualify as “debt collectors.” Defendants cite to a small set of cases finding to the contrary. See Minasyan v. Creditors Fin. Group, LLC, No. 2:12–cv–01864, 2012 WL 232824 (C.D. Cal. June 19, 2012); Owings v. Hunt & Henriques, No. 08–cv–1931, 2010 WL 3489342, at *3 (S.D.Cal. Sept. 3, 2010); Carney v. Rotkin, Schmerin & McIntyre, 206 Cal.App.3d 1513 (1988). ¶ Plaintiff is correct that the majority of federal district courts in California considering the issue have found that a law firm is a debt collector within the meaning of the Rosenthal Act. See McNichols v. Moore Law Group, No. 11–cv–1458, 2012 WL 667760 at *4 (S.D.Cal. Feb. 28, 2012) (finding that law firms are included in the definition of “debt collector” under the Rosenthal Act); Bautista v. Hunt & Henriques, No. 11–cv–4010, 2012 WL 160252 at *8 (N.D.Cal. Jan. 17, 2012); Reimann v. Brachfeld, No. 10–cv–04156, 2010 WL 5141858 (N.D.Cal. Dec. 3, 2010) (rejecting Owings ); Abels v. JBC Legal Grp., P.C., 227 F.R.D. 541, 548 (N.D.Cal.2005) (“Since the legislature specifically excluded attorneys from the statute but was silent on law firms, this Court presumes that the legislature did not intend to exclude law firms”); Robinson v. Managed Accounts Receivables Corp., 654 F.Supp.2d 1051, 1061 (C.D.Cal.2009) (“The Court finds persuasive the authority holding that a law firm may be a ‘debt collector’ under the California FDCPA.”); Moriarity v. Henriques, No. 11–cv–01208, 2011 WL 3568435 at * 6 (E.D.Cal. Aug. 15, 2011) (“[D]istrict courts throughout the Ninth Circuit have found that a law firm is a ‘debt collector’ within the meaning of the RFDCPA.”). The authority cited by Defendants is not persuasive, and does not fit within the majority view of the federal district courts in California. In keeping with prior decisions in this district, this court finds that a law firm can be a “debt collector” under the Rosenthal Act. ¶ Defendants also argue that BLG is not a law firm, stating that “[t]he Brachfeld Law Group is a profes-sional corporation established under the state bar act (sic ), and is solely owned by Erica Brachfeld and authorized by the State Bar to engage in the practice of law.” At the hearing, Defendants admitted that Ms. Brachfeld employs numerous attorneys across the country, but argued BLG is not a law firm because Ms. Brachfeld does not share fees with these employees. Again, Defendants have submitted no evidence suggesting that BLG should not be treated as a law firm. In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, this court finds that BLG is a law firm for purposes of the Rosenthal Act. ¶ . . . Plaintiff does not make any specific argument as to whether Ms. Brachfeld is subject to the Rosenthal Act. Defendants contend that Ms. Brachfeld is exempt from any liability under the Rosenthal Act. Plaintiff has not met her burden of proving that no issue of material fact exists as to Ms. Brachfeld’s liability. Moreover, even if Plaintiff had supplied an argument, it appears that such argument would fail because the Act expressly excludes attorneys from the definition of debt collector. Ms. Brachfeld cannot be held liable as a matter of law. Cal. Civ.Code § 1788.2(c); see Bretana v. Int’l Collection Corp., No. 07–cv–5934, 2010 WL 1221925 at *1 (N.D.Cal. Mar. 24, 2010) (finding that a solo practitioner is not subject to liability under the Rosenthal Act); Abels v. JBC Legal Grp., P.C., 227 F.R.D. 541, 547–48 (N.D.Cal.2005) (holding that the plain language of the Rosenthal Act excludes an individual attorney from the definition of debt collector). The court therefore DENIES summary adjudication on Plaintiff’s Rosenthal Act claims as to Erica Brachfeld.