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Virtual Paralegalism

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Lawyer Blames Paralegal for Erroneous Application

Texas lawyer Andrew Schirrmeister responded to a motion for sanctions by former appellate judge Gordon Maag, admitting that his application to practice in an Illinois benzene suit without an Illinois license omitted information about prior sanctions – due to the fault of the paralegal that prepared it.

Gordon Maag represents the plaintiff, The Estate of Kent Herzog, in a civil action against DuPont for alleged negligent exposure to benzene. Mr. Shirrmeister represents Du Pont.

Gordon Maag advised Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth that while googling Mr. Shirrmeister in April 2007, he discovered that he had been sanctioned in Texas in 1995. Mr. Shirrmeister testified before Judge Ruth that “a paralegal prepared his application and he didn’t examine it.”

“What happened in this case was, I failed to carefully read the application,” Schirrmeister said.

He apologized to the court and Maag.

Judge Ruth apparently takes a dim view of attorneys that fail to carefully review documents for their own signatures, saying, “The court has a problem with attorneys just coming in and saying I didn’t read the law and I didn’t pay attention to the facts.”

“We are lawyers and we are supposed to read the law before you go filing documents, not after you get in trouble or caught, whatever you want to call it,” Ruth said.

Judge Ruth has asked for more information pending a ruling.

Madison County Record

This article is a great read for some fine courtroom quotes, including “Have you ever used Google?” and “I just made a mistake. Gee whiz I’m sorry.”

3 Responses to Lawyer Blames Paralegal for Erroneous Application

  1. Stay tuned for further developments of a similar story in which attorney Blame T. Paralegal asserts that he had no responsibility to disclose accurate information about himself or his practice to the paralegal preparing a similar application because, “Paralegals are supposed to do research, which clearly was not done in this case.”

  2. Blame T. Paralegal says, “Gee whiz I’m sorry I forgot about those pesky sanctions of public record and I’m even sorrier that I didn’t Google myself first”…lol

  3. Sure…blame the paralegal when it is the lawyer’s responsibility to properly oversee the work of the paralegal. The attorney is, ultimately, responsible even if the paralegal did something stupid.

Contact Info:

Lynne J. DeVenny, N.C. State Bar Certified Paralegal

Owner & Virtual Paralegal, DeVenny Paralegal Services

Email: lynne.devenny[at]gmail.com

Telephone: 336-582-0003

Inquiries are welcome, with free quotes available.

Meet Lynne:

Lynne DeVenny is a North Carolina State Bar Certified Paralegal with over 27 years of experience working on complex litigation cases, including medical malpractice, personal injury, workers’ compensation, and Social Security disability.

Disclosure: I am not a lawyer and cannot provide legal representation or legal advice.

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