May 2, 2009
From the California Bar Journal reporting a recent disbarment:
Goldberg was disbarred in 1982 after pleading no contest to grand theft, was reinstated in 1991 and resumed practice in 1998 or 1999. The State Bar Court found in the new matter that he aided in the unauthorized practice of law by allowing his paralegal to attend 29 depositions without notifying his clients or opposing counsel that the paralegal was not a lawyer.
Goldberg hired Anthony Allen Roach in 2001 to perform paralegal and law clerk services. Although Roach told Goldberg he passed the February 2003 bar exam, he also said he had not been sworn in. He was not admitted to practice until 2005.
However, over the course of a year, Roach attended 30 depositions in cases where Goldberg was the attorney of record, although Goldberg disputes the facts of one deposition. Goldberg did not attend any of the depositions, nor did he inform the clients that Roach was not an attorney. He also received transcripts of 30 depositions, which identified Roach as an attorney associated with Goldberg’s office.
In 2003, Goldberg submitted an article for publication in a legal magazine in which he identified Roach, his co-author, as “an associate” with his office.
In 2004, Goldberg and Roach called the State Bar Ethics Hotline and requested guidance concerning the propriety of having a law clerk defend a deposition; they were told that attendance at a deposition was considered the practice of law. Goldberg then informed Roach he could not attend any more depositions.
Although Goldberg testified he was unaware that Roach was taking depositions without having passed the bar examination, the court said his testimony was not credible. In fact, wrote Judge Donald Miles, Roach “consistently stated that [Goldberg] approached him about taking depositions many months prior to learning that he had passed the exam.”
In recommending Goldberg’s disbarment, Miles wrote that his clients, despite winning settlements, could be viewed as victims because they were not represented by an attorney at their depositions. “Causing such damage to the public’s trust in the legal profession is an outcome that cannot be condoned,” he wrote.
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Disbarment seems a bit harsh for conduct which the attorney corrected on becoming aware of the violation prior to the disciplinary proceeding. So the disciplinary proceeding resulted from the attorney's own call to a bar run ethics hotline? That's not a very good precedent. And I also fail to see the relevance of unrelated events which took place more than 27 years ago.
As for the clients as victims, it is possible that they were, but the issue would be very fact specific. If they did in fact receive good advice and a good settlement, it is difficult to see them as victims. No, the real "victims" here appear to be the state bar and its members' monopoly on the practice of law.
Posted by: FixedWing | May 3, 2009 11:22:15 AM
whats the latest update on this?
Posted by: Company Formation | May 3, 2009 11:44:28 PM