The Blog Formerly Known As Practical Paralegalism
Connecticut attorney Frank DiScala, formerly with DiScala, DiScala and Papscy in Norwalk, received two reprimands (by agreement) to appear on his professional record from the Statewide Grievance Committee, one for forging signatures on legal documents and the other for “not advising a client in writing to consult with independent counsel prior to accepting the settlement.”
The grievance complaint, filed by firm associate Michael Colombo, contained multiple allegations of unethical conduct by Mr. DiScala, including that he directed his paralegal Lisa Snow to cover up portions of a document so that a client would not be aware of her right to sue for malpractice and to seek independent counsel.
The second violation had to do with a client named Beatriz Martinez, whose personal injury suit DiScala could no longer litigate because he had failed to file it before the statute of limitations ran out on her claim, Colombo wrote.
According to Colombo, DiScala had Snow cover up the top portion of a form while Martinez signed it. The form was a waiver of her right to seek counsel in a claim against DiScala.
Martinez was additionally deceived when DiScala told her he had in fact settled her case and gave her $15,000 out of the firm’s expense account, money which she believed DiScala would be reimbursed for, the grievance states.
See The Hour.
I like to think that if an attorney asked me to knowingly help him deprive a client of her legal rights that I would quit on the spot. However, in this economy, I also sympathize with any legal support staff professional who is directed by his or her supervising attorney to engage in wrongdoing. Not knowing the facts regarding Ms. Snow’s involvement, whether she was browbeaten, “job-scared”, ignorant or a willing participant, I can only feel sorry that she had to work for a lawyer who at best, exercised poor judgment, and at worst, deceived clients.
Assuming that you were the paralegal in this situation and also assuming that your household was dependent on your income, what would you have done?