Drug Lords’ Paralegals: Not So Professional

In October of 2009 I did a post entitled, “Drug Lord’s Paralegal: “I have to be professional” about a paralegal’s effort remain professional while offering “company and conversation to convicted drug lords serving time:

Lulu makes a point of visiting on holidays. She’s careful never to be late. And she abides by ADX’s rules prohibiting her from showing cleavage or wearing skirts that fall above the knee. After all, she says, “I have to be professional.”

“These aren’t my boyfriends. I can’t be flirting or anything like that. They videotape our visits. There are a lot of eyes on me when I’m at my job,” she says.

Now the Miami New Times reports: “Miami’s Federal Jail Overrun With Strippers Posing As Paralegals, Lawyers Say.” Apparently these “paralegals” are not making many efforts to even pretend they are professional – or at least not professional paralegals:”

Multiple attorneys interviewed by Riptide say the FDC visitor rooms have been taken over by South American pole dancers posing as paralegals for wealthy drug lords inside. Lawyers hired by the accused narco dons allegedly list the scantily clad women as “legal assistants,” and the FDC lets them in. Meanwhile, attorneys who refuse to go along risk losing their clients to lawyers with busty beauties on staff.

“They take off their tops and let the guys touch them,” veteran defense attorney Hugo Rodriguez says. “The majority of these young, very attractive women are noncitizens brought in exclusively for the purposes of visiting the FDC. Any lawyer can sign a form and designate a legal assistant. There is no way of verifying it. The process is being abused.”…

Among the offenses allegedly committed by so-called paralegals: smuggling in a Playboy, feeding alcohol to an inmate by slipping a straw through a grate, and sneaking in $3,000 inside a purse.

In a scene straight out of a porno, one woman was caught on video stripping for an inmate in the jail’s Special Housing Unit, attorneys say.

As noted in the original posts, these people are not actually the drug lords’ paralegals, but the attorneys’ paralegals, if they are paralegals at all. The problem is that there are no regulations establishing who qualifies as a paralegal or what qualifies as a paralegal function. The ABA definition of paralegal does refer to “substative legal work” but leaves the final designation of titles to “supervising” attorneys. If this story is true, it is an indication that more is needed, as some attorneys cannot handle that responsibility.

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