How Can This Be Unethical, When All Lawyers Are Whores Anyway?

(I just wanted to get this joke out of the way right at the start.)

"Need a lawyer? Here's my card..."

“Need a lawyer? Here’s my card…”

Well, we have read about all sorts of unusual lawyer avocations in Ethics Alarms—the dominatrix lawyer, the hypnotist lawyer, the superhero lawyer, the illegal immigrant lawyer, ethicist lawyer—but I didn’t expect to see this one in my home state.

An already suspended Massachusetts lawyer,  Karen Andrade, has been charged with prostitution after a police investigated a report by a suspicious neighbor and  found online reviews of both the lawyer’s legal services and her escort services. Using the name of “Rose,” Andrade frequently hosted middle-aged men her home, prompting the neighbor’s complaint. One of the men told police that he paid Andrade $150 for sex.

Observations:

  • I knew the legal profession was in a slump, but I never thought it was this bad.
  • Yes, this is an ethics violation. It is breaking the law, assuming she is found guilty.
  • Hooking calls her honesty and trustworthiness into question only because it is illegal. Would she have legal ethics problems if she were a Nevada lawyer, and no law was violated? I don’t think so. Back in 2007, I wrote about Traci Bryant, a.k.a.Anita Cannibal, the porn star who worked her way through law school at a legal house of prostitution. I conclude that if the activity is legal, nothing about prostitution appears to violate legal ethics.

See why I made that joke before you could?

 

“It’s Unethical To Be A Weenie,” Part III: Hypersensitive Law Students

[Part I is here; Part II is here]

“Today’s lecture is on WHAT???????”

This belongs in an emerging sub-category: future legal weenies. We have already seen black law students insisting that they be able to defer exams because the Eric Garner death has them too preoccupied to concentrate, and other law students protest an “insensitive” exam question involving the Ferguson riots. This trend does not bode well for the ability of citizens to receive competent representation in years to come. The latest entry was revealed by Harvard law professor Jeannie Suk, who registers her observations  in the New Yorker.  Suk says rape law is becoming impossible to teach and may be dropped from criminal law courses because many students can’t handle the stress of the subject matter. Criminal law professors at several schools confirmed that they are no longer teach rape law because they fear student complaints.  Suk writes, “Many students and teachers appear to be absorbing a cultural signal that real and challenging discussion of sexual misconduct is too risky to undertake—and that the risk is of a traumatic injury analogous to sexual assault itself.” Continue reading

KABOOM!* Our Hyper-Sensitive Future Lawyers

headexplode

Well, friends, for the second time this month my brains are on the ceiling, walls and floor again, and I’ve had to gate the dog so that…well, you know.

Columbia Law School announced that it is permitting students who are so devastated by recent non-indictments in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner matters to postpone taking their final exams. Isn’t that nice?

By “nice, “I mean stupid, irresponsible and embarrassing. You can read the Dean’s nauseatingly delicate statement here: I don’t want it polluting the blog, so I’m not going to quote it. Besides, if I look at it again, who knows what else might be on my walls. Continue reading

The Maryland Supreme Court Clearly Doesn’t Believe In Signature Significance

PeepingTom

But I do.

The Maryland Supreme Court just reinstated a Clayton W. Boulware, a Montgomery County attorney who had been suspended for six months after being convicted of covertly filming up the skirts of two women, one of whom was a minor, in a public place.  Boulware was suspended in September for six months with a three-year probationary period to follow the suspension.

In his defense, Boulware blamed his upskirt peeping on an “open relationship” with a younger woman, introducing him to a “swinging lifestyle” that included filming themselves having sex. But that relationship is over now, the court notes, so, hey, no problem.

The bar disciplinary board noted in its report to the court that it believed  a more lenient approach to punishing Boulware was called for because of those “mitigating circumstances.”  Lawyers are, as everyone knows, putty in the hands of swinging young women, and this always results in them shooting up other women’s skirts.

I feel like I am losing my mind. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Slate Editor David Plotz

SlateDavid Plotz, journalist and editor of the on-line culture magazine Slate, takes on the California Supreme Court in an essay in his magazine, harshly criticizing the 7-0 decision yesterday to deny Stephen Glass the opportunity to practice law in the state. Glass has been attempting for almost 20 year to persuade some state that a star journalist who was exposed as a pathological liar is a trustworthy lawyer. Plotz’s attack on the opinion as smug and self-righteous says a lot more about Plotz and his field of journalism than it does about the court. It  exposes the perils of a non-lawyer delving into legal ethics without even a modicum of research. Mostly, the exercise shows how far journalism has fallen, when the editor of a prestigious on-line journalistic enterprise essentially denies the importance of professionalism. “It’s a job,” he concludes about the law, trying to bring lawyers down to the depths of his own, thoroughly debased line of work.

Not that the decision isn’t ripe for criticism, for it is. In particular, the majority reasoning continues the legal field’s strange hypocrisy of applying a far more stringent standard to the character of those trying to get their licenses that it does to those who have proven themselves unworthy of holding them. The District of Columbia, supposedly one of the toughest jurisdiction regarding legal discipline, recently administered a mild reprimand to a Justice Department attorney who had been practicing on a suspended license for more than two decades. John Edwards, whose trail of lies while deceiving his dying wife and devising schemes to hide his pregnant mistress in order to gull the Democratic party into nominating him for President, has managed to avoid any discipline at all despite the fact that his continuing leave to practice law disgraces every lawyer on the planet. And, of course, the very same court Plotz derides now recently delivered the stunning conclusion that a non-citizen who entered the country illegally and engaged in years of lies to remain here is nonetheless fit to be a lawyer. (Naturally, Plotz liked that decision.) None of these are mentioned in the post. Continue reading

Ethics Quote of The Week: The California Supreme Court

stephen_glass

“Glass and the witnesses who supported his application stress his talent in the law and his commitment to the profession, and they argue that he has already paid a high enough price for his misdeeds to warrant admission to the bar. They emphasize his personal redemption, but we must recall that what is at stake is not compassion for Glass, who wishes to advance from being a supervised law clerk to enjoying a license to engage in the practice of law on an independent basis. Given our duty to protect the public and maintain the integrity and high standards of the profession (see Gossage, supra, 23 Cal.4th at p. 1105), our focus is on the applicant‟s moral fitness to practice law. On this record, the applicant failed to carry his heavy burden of establishing his rehabilitation and current fitness.”

—–The California Supreme Court, finally rejecting the application of disgraced journalist Stephen Glass for admission the the California Bar, on the grounds of trustworthiness and poor character.

This should end Glass’s efforts to enter the new profession of law after spectacularly destroying his reputation in his former one, that of star journalist for The New Republic. After he was found to have fabricated more than 40 pieces for the magazine and gone to elaborate efforts to deceive fact-checkers. Stephen Glass  (Whom I first wrote about here) was fired in 1998. Luckily for him, he was already a student at Georgetown Law Center at the time, attending its night school, as he almost certainly would not have been admitted after his public exposure as a serial liar. Glass graduated, and beginning in 2002 commenced on this long,  difficult and ultimately unsuccessful journey to professional redemption, taking and passing multiple bar exams and being rejected, first by New York and now by California.

Upon reflection, Glass may well conclude that lying to the New York Board of Bar Examiners was an especially bad idea. Continue reading

Why Is A Lying Journalist Not Fit To Practice Law, When A Lying Presidential Candidate Is?

Question: Which two men are fit to practice law? (It's a trick question...)

Question: Which two men are fit to practice law? (It’s a trick question…)

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog muses on an issue that has troubled me for a long time: the fact that the legal profession allows people to keep practicing law whose conduct would have kept them out of the profession had it occurred before they were lawyers.

The reason for the current examination is the apparent inconsistency of disgraced New Republic journalist Stephen Glass continuing to fight and uphill battle (and, I think, doomed) to be admitted to the California bar, while lying scum-of-the-earth John Edwards still has his law license and is opening up a new practice in North Carolina. I wrote about Glass here, and Edwards here.

In the Journal piece, estimable legal ethicist Stephen Gillers opines that the different standards applied to Glass and Edwards are paradoxical,  with the law grads entering the profession being held to more stringent ethical standards  than a veteran attorneys. “If anything, you might say it should be the opposite,” he says.

Especially if the veteran lawyer is a high-profile, national figure who makes every other lawyer want to crawl under a rock… Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Thomas McGregor

"Just paying off my student loans..."

“Just paying off my student loans…”

One of the criteria for admission to the practice of law is proof of good character, and what is considered proof of bad character will keep even a stellar law grad out of the courtroom. Bad character can be inferred from many kinds of conduct—criminal convictions, lies under oath, and failing to meet financial obligations, among others. The latter has occasionally blocked an otherwise qualified young lawyer from entering the profession when unpaid debts get out of hand, and that means that the most prominent unpaid debts in recent headlines, student loans, can sometimes foil a legal career. New York law grad Robert Bowman, last I checked, was still trying to convince the New York Bar that being over $400,000 in debt on his student loans didn’t mean he wasn’t fit to practice law. So far, he hasn’t succeeded.

Maybe he should follow the lead of Thomas McGregor.  Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: How Unethical Is This Lawyer?

"Dr." Susan Friery with "Bowser", who for the last ten years has claimed to be a poodle.

Newburyport (Mass.) lawyer Susan Friery, a partner at the New York-based law firm Kreindler & Kreindler, has been suspended from being able to practice law in Massachusetts until February 2014.

Why? Two years..that seems pretty stiff. Well, it seems that from the time she joined the firm as a part-time paralegal and medical consultant in 1986 to her resignation, she represented her self to the firm and its clients as an MD.  Friery joined the law firm in August 1986 . In truth, she had only completed taken four semesters of medical courses at SUNY Buffalo School of Medicine, and never got a degree. But she got her entre into the  firm by falsely claiming that she had graduated from another school, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University in New York. In 1989, the firm paid most of her tuition to law school,and by 1993, Friery became an associate, specializing in medical malpractice cases and personal injury law suits with medical injuries. Her name appeared with the title MD or Dr. on the firm’s letterhead, business cards, legal correspondence and other documents filed in numerous courts.

Court documents also show that Friery presented herself as a doctor at seminars and meetings. By 1998, the law firm had included Friery’s alleged medical credentials in its web-based advertising.

Your Ethics Quiz for today, therefore, is this…TWO YEARS??? I’m sorry, let me calm down. <big breath> Ok, here’s the question:

Do you think a suspension of two years for 25 years of falsely holding oneself out to the public as well as colleagues as a medical doctor is sufficient punishment? Continue reading

Can a Lying Journalist Be a Trustworthy Lawyer?

Stephen Glass: Would you trust this man?

When New Republic Editor Charles Lane fired Stephen Glass, the infamous journalist for that and other magazines who in 1998 was exposed as having fabricated many articles he had represented as true, he was quoted as saying,  “Glass is a man without honor who operated out of hostility and contempt; he has no place in journalism.”

Now the question is whether such man now has a place in the law.

A petition for review has been filed by the California Commission of Bar Examiners contesting the  State Bar Court’s finding that Glass is now morally fit to practice law. He passed the California bar exam in 2007, but the committee blocked his admission, finding that his previous record of professional dishonesty, though in another profession, showed such a deficiency of character that it disqualified him from legal practice as unfit. Then a hearing judge over-ruled the Commission, and found that Glass had reformed sufficiently to render trustworthy. The opinion was upheld 2-1 by the State Bar Court. Continue reading