The Blog Formerly Known As Practical Paralegalism
Who can resist a story that includes the statement, “At 32, Brian Neiman has seen more success, more scandal, more money earned and lost than most people can expect in a lifetime.” Not me. But this quote was from a 2002 Miami Herald story. Brian Neiman, self-described paralegal, at age 39, is still accused of living the high life through high dollar hustles.
According to the Miami Herald, Neiman has been a state bar’s nightmare from an early age. While most teenage delinquents are buying beer with fake IDs, Neiman was thinking way bigger and staged a fake automobile accident to obtain the insurance proceeds.
Continuing his merry, litigious and unlicensed ways (which seem to run in the family), “[h]e was busted in 1994 for pulling slip-and-fall lawsuit scams on South Florida retailers with his mother.” Moving on to much bigger fish, in 2002, the Florida Bar found the “so-called paralegal” made over a million dollars filing “baseless racial discrimination suits” and keeping most of the settlement proceeds while his clients, who thought they had a real lawyer, received the equivalent of peanuts.
In May 2002, the Supreme Court of Florida enjoined Neiman from the unlicensed practice of law. The opinion itself provides a thorough account of Neiman’s brazen activities running a law office (and allegedly bossing around an actual attorney), which (as he reported to his probation officers) netted him a not too shabby income of over $50,000.00 per month at one point.
Neiman argued that participating in settlement negotiations did not constitute UPL, but the Court wryly disagreed and pronounced that he had flunked that non-legal 4-pronged (looks, walks, talks, acts) standard: The Duck Test.
In common parlance, Neiman’s activities fail the “duck test”. That is, in common parlance, one would expect that if it looks like a duck, and walks, talks, and acts like a duck, one can usually safely assume it is a duck. Unfortunately, while Neiman at all times acted like an educated and licensed lawyer, he was not.
The Miami Herald at that point thought his hustling career was over in South Florida and that a simple Google search would protect the very gullible public from Neiman, only to learn that last week the SEC reported the apparently still wildly successful Florida businessman had agreed to pay a “$40,000 civil penalty for running an unregistered, fraudulent securities racket between 2002 and 2007” – a scheme that allegedly involved 330 even more gullible investors throwing their money at Neiman to the tune of $68 million. On the bright side, over $65 million in funds has been returned to investors.
The SEC’s complaint noted that would-be investors received promotional materials from Neiman bragging that “by age 22, he was probably the only paralegal in the country making over a million dollars a year.” That may have been the most truthful statement in the materials.
According to his MySpace page for the Neiman Family Foundation, Neiman is an unabashed Renaissance Man, not only creating a “break-through concept for purchasing real estate” (the SEC is calling it something else), but dabbling in art, showing Paso Fino horses and attending society fundraisers.
I don’t think the Miami Herald – or the public – has seen the last of Brian Neiman.