Hello! For Thursday, Nov. 18, please read the New York decision in Sussman v. Grado, about a paralegal behaving badly. 🙁 By 8am Thursday, please post a short “reply” to this post with some thoughtful reaction to the case. For example, what did you find interesting, or surprising, instructive, or was there something you not understand? Or anything at all you want to say, that shows you read and thought about the case!
Happy reading and posting!
Based on the reading, to me, it seems obvious that the defendant (the paralegal) violated the paralegal ethical duties, mainly the “competence” aspect of it and she was definitely involved in the unauthorized practice of law and it is odd that she did not think so. It is interesting that the paralegal even thought it was a good idea to go through with helping the plaintiff with the forms when she had no knowledge of what a turnover order was and had to go to multiple different sources to attempt to learn more about the topic. Based on what we have learned in class so far, one would think that to an experienced practicing paralegal this would be an obvious breach in paralegal ethics. Although she was trying to help, she ended up hurting her client (the plaintiff) in the process and the whole process led to even more trouble for all of them. I think it is good to help others, but when it comes to the law and law practice, helping others in areas one is not qualified to help in ends up hurting rather than helping and can lead to lawsuits, as seen in this case!
Adriana, thanks for this thoughtful response! I agree, this is a sad example of good intentions gone wrong.
From what I can see in the reading, the defendant took a client’s money even though she wasn’t familiar with the type of work he needed her help with. This would mean she violated the competence aspect of the job. I would say she also violated the confidentiality aspect because she went around asking people things pertaining to the case. She was also practicing law by preparing forms for the client to submit without them being looked over by an attorney first.
Thanks Joshua! Yes she racked up quite a few violations there. I hope she learned her lesson.
Even though the defendant didn’t mean harm, what she did was morally and ethically wrong. First of all she agreed to fill out forms and charge the client for it without working under the supervision of an attorney. Thereupon, she involved outsiders to the matter, by this violating the competence and confidentiality aspects.
Honestly I spectated a major punishment by the court.
Thanks Mirian! Yes the punishment does seem a bit mild. We’ll discuss it in class.
It seems as if the Paralegal is not allowed to operate as an independent, I stand as an independent student & In reference to Politic’s as well. The fact is that the Paralegal did reach out to 3 lawyers in order to get some legal advice on this matter. Another fact is that the paralegal did operate independently for 13 years. Based on the paralegal’s background that’s listed in Article, the paralegal in question does seem competent to operate as a paralegal. What seems to be the case is the matter that has arisen falls under a newfound type of case because the 3 lawyers that were contacted didn’t even know how to legally advise the paralegal. Now I’m aware of the court’s decision but there needs to be some leniency taken towards the Paralegal for all the years of servicing the community. Nonetheless, I agree with the court’s decision but still favor the Paralegal for providing the service.
Thanks Esteban! However I must disagree with you. I think the paralegal’s conduct endangers her clients, even if her intentions are good.
I would say that no matter if the defendant was trying to help out the Plaintiff. The defendant still created a document without an attorney going over it. A paralegal cannot give legal advice to a client or even set fees. Which is something that the defendant violated trying to help out someone. And if you ask three attorneys about it and their respond is that they never heard of it you shouldn’t continue
Thanks Pedro! Yes, if three attorneys had not heard of this document, that should have been a clue that this paralegals should not have undertaken it on her own.