Thursday, May 4, 2017

Job Tips: Paralegals In Love

Today's post actually comes from a question asked almost 4 years ago in the comments on this blog:

I've been running my own firm for a short period of time. I recently received an e-mail from my paralegal that was not intended for me, but for a client of mine. 
The e-mail had a tone that made me think that there was more than just a client-paralegal relationship budding between the two of them. Instead of going in to quickly confront my paralegal, I decided to do a bit more investigation. As is my right, I read through the firm e-mails that the paralegal had sent/received from this client.
It appears that my paralegal is engaged in an extra-marital affair with this client. I'm not going to get on my high horse and judge my paralegal for doing this(even if I am morally against it), I'm just worried about the effects it will have on my firm. 
I'd like some advice on how to handle this situation. Are there any Professional Rules I should be concerned about? Any advice is welcome.
What do you think? Previous responses only went so far as to say that's a great question for bar counsel, but how would YOU handle this?

68 comments:

  1. Hey, if she'll go rogue with the client, maybe she'll go rogue with you. Get you some while the getting is good.

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    1. There was nothing in the post that indicates the attorney is male or that the paralegal was female. Good job jumping to that conclusion, because of course only attorneys can be male with female paralegals...

      As to the actual question posed, you are responsible for the actions of your paralegal, and I would hold my paralegal to the same ethical standards that we are subject to, because I think the same issues arise. Specifically, if something goes sideways (either your representation of the client, or the relationship) there is the possibility for the client to say the case was sabotaged by the paralegal, or that the paralegal was billing the client for work when s/he was emailing regarding personal things.

      If it were me, I would have a discussion with the paralegal to find out the full extent of the relationship, whether s/he is willing to end it, whether it can end amicably. I would also remove the paralegal from any future dealings with the case. I know that can be difficult to do in a small firm, but I think you need to protect yourself. I think I would also probably have an in-person discussion with the client (recorded as a CYA) to explain that the paralegal will have no future involvement in the case and that the relationship is ethically prohibited.

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    2. Don't get your panties in a bunch, 9:12.

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    3. 9:12 needs to get laid by his/her paralegal.

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    4. 9:12 how dare you assume 8:51 wasn't referring to male/male female/female female/male sexual encounters

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    5. 8:51 used the pronoun "she," so I think male/male is out.

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    6. If you know someone you supervise in your firm has started a romantic relationship with a non-organizational client that did not exist when the attorney-client relationship was formed, you could be liable if you don't step in and correct it and the representation goes bad. NRPC 1.8(j), 5.3(c).

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    7. How dare 9:12 assume there are only two genders. Unbelievable.

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    8. Yeah! There are, like, what, 63 genders, right? I mean, science has shown us that this whole binary male-female sex thing is a diabolical construct of whitey patriarchal oppressors. With enough toxic chemicals and surgeries, you can be whatever you want, sweetie.

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    9. But what if I find out that someone that I supervise in my firm has started a romantic relationship with an organizational client that did not exist when the attorney-client relationship was formed? Am I obligated to step in and correct it? NRPC 1.8(j), 5.3(c).

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    10. I'd love to year what the original attorney did in this situation 4 years ago.

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    11. I was the one who asked this question 4 years ago. It was very uncomfortable, but I had a conversation with the paralegal and made sure it stopped. Based on the emails I saw, it looked like the client got cold feet pretty quickly and shut it down anyway. There's nothing I hate more than dealing with uncomfortable HR issues.

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    12. Why do a post about a question from four years ago??

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    13. Because sometimes it is a slow news day and we need something to talk about. To prevent this, please feel free to send us your own news, gossip, rumors, etc.

      Thanks for the follow-up 6:56!

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    14. Slow news day? For gossip, maybe...

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  2. Also could be marketing. "We are a FULL service law firm".

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  3. That is Bongiovi Law Firm

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  4. It's always a little stunning to me to see potentially defamatory comments posted here on a fairly regular basis. You'd think lawyers would be smarter. You all know that, ultimately, none of these comments is really anonymous, right?

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    1. It is not stunning. Attorneys are impervious to risk. We drive fast. We drink heavily. We live hard.

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    2. "You all know that, ultimately, none of these comments is really anonymous, right?"

      Really? Do tell.

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    3. "You all know that, ultimately, none of these comments is really anonymous, right?"

      Adam Kutner would like to hire you as an expert in his case against WWL.

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    4. Apparently, Kutner was too busy chasing after old blog posts to pick up the phone when a client was trying to find out why she hadn't heard anything for months. Do you think he believes Public Reprimands should be hidden away, too?

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    5. Because her case was at Cardoza's office. How could Kutner legitimately know what is happening on a file that requires work?

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  5. Don't shit where you eat.

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    1. But what if you LOVE the taste of shit?

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    2. I don't mind being hit on in general, especially at social events, but I get seething rage fits when I am hit on at work.

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    3. * by men who you are not attracted to.

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    4. --Signed the entire former staff of Karen Ross

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    5. 3:28, can you please elaborate? I thought Karen Ross was accused of just sleeping with opposing counsel, not her own staff or clients. Although that wouldn't be too far of a stretch i guess

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  6. Let's open a new thread. The City of Las Vegas Municipal race- Heidi Almase race v. Cara Campbell and Dave Thomas. Comments???
    https://www.reviewjournal.com/news/news-columns/jane-ann-morrison/consultant-dave-thomas-drops-judicial-candidate-heidi-almase/

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    1. Why hasn't Heidi been able to raise money as an incumbent? She is a really good judge and I can't understand why the local bar will not raise money for her. Bizarre

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    2. I will tell you why. Because Heidi, who I considered a friend, became a dick when she was on the bench. She failed to appreciate all the defense bar who supported her and had no problem showing up defense attorneys in front of their clients. We're not asking for you to bend over backwards, but the one thing you do not do to a criminal defense lawyer is show them up in front of their clients, that puts a very bad taste in our mouths. And my personal belief is that enough of us were sick of the treatment in that department and the complete dismissal of us as people that we all rebelled. Cara is good people AND a very strong candidate - DA, law and order type, etc. so a lot of us defected over to her because she is smart and knows that we are not our clients and doesn't treat us as if we are. It's really that simple.

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    3. It is a widely known "secret" that Heidi never finds a defendant not guilty if they are represented by a public defender. It is also a widely known fact that she has actually held lawyers in contempt and filed bar complaints against lawyers for disagreeing with her. Just because you have a robe does not give you the right to mistreat people or use punitive measures against a lawyer who respectfully disagrees with your ruling (i.e. Conrad Hafen). Even worse, it is unacceptable for a judge to penalize a defendant because you don't like their lawyer.

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    4. Sounds like Heidi needs to stay on the bench. She is ruffling the right feathers. In terms of looks (yeah, stuff it feminazis), Heidi and Cara are both easy on the eyes, leading to a draw. I have no idea if Cara is better, but why rock the boat because some fat geese are honking?

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    5. Heidi is a dem and Cara is not, still feel that way with your Feminazi quip?

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    6. If she was shitting on civil litigation guys masquerading as criminal defenders to make extra money off the backs of their idiot clients, you could call them fat geese. But she isn't. Our PD brother and sisters are paid crap wages. This isn't kosher.

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    7. Heidi is the more qualified of the two. By a landslide. She's one of the highest rated judges on the bench. These Thomas/fundraising antics don't pass the old sniff test. Cara's "good people", but will she make a good judge? Doubtful.

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    8. I am for Cara.

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    9. Heidi has NEVER been one of the highest rated judges EVER. #fakenews. Brown, Hastings, Roger, Kerns and Leung all finished ahead of her last poll. So if by highest rated you mean lowest in her own jurisdiction, then you are correct. If you have Dave Thomas and he says you are going to lose, odds are he's probably right. More qualified? By what rationale? Not lasting at any job for longer than four years because she alienates her friends and coworkers with her perceived slights? I award you no points and may God have mercy on your soul.

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    10. #TeamAlmase

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    11. The entire ratings argument is complete horse-crap. About as meaningful as being listed in any of the Who's Who in.. listings. Asking people that have an financial interest in controlling the people they are rating is about as meaningful as asking a bunch of High School students to rate their teachers. Does anyone truly believe that the teachers that assigns a couple hours of homework to be performed on a nightly basis, and gives difficult exams is likely to score anywhere near the teacher that doesn't take attendance, assigns no homework and administers multiple choice, open book exams??

      Now if those ratings were issued by a panel of retired judges who reviewed the pleadings, evidence presented, videos of hearings and the judge's decisions.. that I would place significant weight in.

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    12. I agree with Jane that party affiliation matters. Campbell loses my vote because she's Republican, end of story. I just can't Republican right now.

      I loathe when politicians talk approval ratings. If they are favorable to you, they are a valid sampling. If they are favorable to your opponent, the process is skewed.

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    13. I had been wondering why Heidi, an incumbent, was not raising
      nearly as much money as her challenger.

      12:18 and 1:05 shed some light on this issue. If their impressions are accurate, that explains a lot. No matter what area of law we are dealing with, a judge does not endear herself/himself to the Bar if they have a nasty habit of embarrassing and degrading attorneys in the presence of their clients. That client will then become unhappy with their attorney, and assume their attorney is weak, ineffectual, and has no respect within the judiciary(even though such impression is usually totally wrong). But all the client knows is how their attorney was treated in that one hearing before that one judge, and will become unhappy with their attorney.

      They will then probably terminate the attorney's representation, and not pay the outstanding payments owed to the attorney. And that client will probably blast their attorney on the internet, and will certainly never refer another client to the attorney. And even in these days of attorney advertising(which often remains prohibitively expensive) referrals from satisfied clients is still the life blood of how most law firms survive and prosper.

      So, the ramifications of a judge humiliating an attorney in front of their client, has long range ramifications well beyond the results of the hearing where it occurred.

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    14. With respect to Heidi Almase v. Cara Campbell, Dave Thomas was the consultant for Crystal Eller and she lost to Cedric Kerns. It is not certain that Campbell will win. She still trailed Hedi Almase in a three way race. Even if the the third candidate's votes are divided equally, Heidi Almase would still win. Money helps but does not always rule the day. Las Vegas is a smaller race not like County wide. It may turn out that Cara Campbell spends a lot of money like Crystal Eller and still loses. Almase has the first on the ballot advantage and incumbency. Some attorneys don't like Almase. But she will only get better. There will be others who won't like Campbell. Attorneys are important in races but are not the only factor.

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    15. You got questions? I got answers.

      1) Why can't Heidi raise money? Nobody likes her. Unless you are one of her good friend from before, she completely mistreats you from the bench. Lawyers, defendants and staff. Her whole Courtroom staff is different than it was a couple years ago. Ask them what they think of her. You'll understand. The only way she is raising any money is calling people now saying "I saw you gave money to Cara, I'd think you give me the same since it's my seat." She called me and about 12 of my colleagues and said the same verbatim thing. Totally turns us off and I know lost votes. It's a shakedown.

      2). Why can Cara raise money? Everybody, and I mean EVERYbody likes Cara. She's a wonderful person, a great DA and respectful to everyone. I've had dozens of cases with her and she is fair, reasonable and ethical. Sees both sides and listens. She has a sense of fairness the bench cries out for. I've been a lawyer almost as long as her and I've never heard a single bad thing about her. I was surprised she ran, but it instantly made sense. There's zero way you can say she wouldn't be wonderful on that bench. She is probably overqualified but it's great she wants it.

      3) Do politics matter to this seat? No. Jane is wrong. Politics doesn't matter at all for that seat. In some Courts, sure. I lean Dem and I cannot fathom a way in which politics has any bearing over a Muni court seat where a judge presides over misdemeanor Criminal offenses. Sanctuary cities have nothing to do with a DUI arrest downtown. C'mon. That's just silly. It's not the Supreme Court.

      4) Why did Dave fire Heidi? Dave is competitive. He knows a lot about these races. Dave knows he won't win. If Heidi isn't paying and he can't win, why would he waste his time and effort? Campaigns are a lot of work. Would you work your butt off knowing you're going to lose and won't make any money? Campaign managers get paid a bonus upon winning. That, and commissions, is how they buy nice houses. Dave can't make a commission if she can't buy ads and won't get a bonus if she can't win. The fact she won the primary is irrelevant. Incumbents always win 3 or more candidate primaries. George Assad won the one against Heidi in a landslide. He lost the general in a landslide. 58% of the primary voters voted AGAINST Heidi. That's an abysmal performance for an incumbent. Anyone who knows elections knows that. Dave knows that. Time to abandon ship.

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    16. 11:06 AM--Like your analysis. Thank you. But it is an election and still not certain that Cara Campbell will win. Even if it is a 100 defense attorneys and their friends, is that enough to sway an election. George Assad had a lot of negatives so this is a different race and no gender issue. Two women. Don't live in the City and can't vote but curious how it will turn out. Thomas should have just fired Almase and not make a big deal about it. Will Heidi's revelation make any difference? That being said if she is treating people badly, then she needs to go. This is why electing judges is superior to appointing them.

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    17. List of the judiciary who treat attorneys like shit, go....

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    18. Heidi Almase

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    19. 9:27, completely agree. Seems to me like Heidi has the leg up. Metaphorically speaking (I hope). Gotta face like a bulldog chewing on a wasp, but she's a good judge who won the primary and will in all likelihood win the general.

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    20. It is ridiculous to post that someone is such a great public servant that they are willing to accept a muni judge post. C'mon!!! Everyone knows that you run for it because (a) it is a cake walk and you don't want to work that hard, or (b) you think it is a stepping stone to higher-prestige cakewalks. Sheesh!

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    21. Spot on, 2:45. Along those same lines, you can't really complain about the caliber of candidates. Or their cut-rate judicial skills once elected. These folks aren't the sharpest tools in the shed. They run for Muni because they can't hack it elsewhere and want to ease their way through their careers with little to no responsibility on a mediocore salary.

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    22. Cara has been a DA for over 15 years, she was the head of more than one training class, pretty sure she can hack it just fine... I love the people talking about the caliber of muni judges, you guys are idiots. They work at MOST 20-30 hrs/wk, get fridays off and make about $160K PLUS they get PERS. Pretty good for a woman with young kids. Just sayin. Pretty good for a dude with young kids too for that matter. She does two terms in muni, retires, collects roughly $120K/yr for the rest of her life and can do whatever she wants. Sounds smarter than what I'm doing. Almase is in the same boat as she has significant years in PERS as well.

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    23. Okay Cara, we get it. You are great. Everyone loves you. Heidi sucks. No need to keep campaigning here.

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  7. Let's open a new can of worms. Adam Kutner's war to reveal Legal Eagle's true identity (from the WWL posts) is still going. It is scheduled for a hearing May 11, 2017. I believe his motion to compel Google to reveal identities will be addressed by the district court.

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    1. I bet they won't be able to do that. Isn't that so long ago? Does Google keep records that long. Name of case? Pleadings?

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    2. Adam Kutner v. Google, Inc., Case No. A-15-720137-C. Judge Jim Crockett is presiding.

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    3. The original City Life article is no longer online. WWL is no longer available online. Talk about the Streisand Effect!

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    4. If only there were some sort of archive of the internet, so certain things would never disappear.

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  8. Radford Smith v. John Jones NSC 5-02-2017

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEjWU6rnf5U&feature=share

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    1. Post some comments not a link to some 30 minute video.

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    2. Jones in a landslide. Won his client primary custody after the client placed a recording device in his child's backpack to record mom's disparagement of dad during her custodial time.

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  9. Just received word that Carmine Colucci died. Assuming accurate, that's a real shame I always enjoyed dealing with him.

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    1. He did. Had a stroke Sunday, there was a DNR in place, passed away today. It is a shame, he was a really really good guy.

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    2. I could have sworn I just saw him in court today. Maybe I'm wrong.

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    3. You're wrong, he passed. The announcement that the Office of Appointed Counsel sent out this morning was pretty specific.

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    4. Might have been his ghost roaming the halls, you don't know.

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  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

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