Supervision Abdication

As discussed in several posts here attorneys owe a duty to both the public and the paralegal to provide adequate supervision, a duty that may extend to supervising paralegal sexual relations under certain circumstances. Supervision can range from micro-management to total abdication of responsibility. While in some instances questions can arise as to whether an attorney has provided sufficient supervision especially in cases of embezzlement by paralegals and other situations, cases of total abdication are easier to spot but all the more difficult to understand seeing that they can lead to disbarment. Today’s example comes from ABA.Journal.com which reports that”A San Diego lawyer has agreed to be disbarred for allowing a nonlawyer to open and operate a law firm in his name that offered credit-repair services. Ernest George Georggin, 68, agreed to give up his law license and to pay $90,000 in restitution, plus interest, to 25 former clients of the law firm who filed complaints, according to a California State Bar press release, U-T San Diego and the Metropolitan News-Enterprise. According to a stipulation of facts (PDF), Georggin formed Georggin Law with nonlawyer Eric Phillips in 2010 and “completely abdicated” the firm to Phillips and other nonlawyers. Georggin collected a salary, but Phillips managed the firm.”

In this case there sounds like there was something particularly nefarious going on. But the point remains that if your attorney truly leaves you in charge of the office for an extended period of time or even for a short period of time if during that time you to ” decide[d] which new clients to accept, set legal fees and use[d] a stamp with Georggin’s signature to conduct legal business” it jeopardizes the attorney’s license, your job, and may actually subject you to charges of UPL.

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