Friday, January 25, 2013

The Boss From Hell

The New Jersey Supreme Court has reprimanded two attorneys based on the consolidated recommendation of the Disciplinary Review Board.

The circumstances are worthy of study in light of the state of the market in law jobs.

The attorneys were both inexperienced immigrants from Korea who had been admitted to practice in New Jersey (and one also in New York). Both had difficulty obtaining meaningful legal employment and were in the United States without permanent status.

They found legal work for a man named Jacob Kim, who operated several businesses and served as their employment sponsor for visa purposes.

According to the DRB:

By all accounts, Jacob Kim was a tyrant, who intimidated his staff and held respondents' immigration status over their heads, in order to have them engage in improper conduct.

Eventually, one of the attorneys broke away from Kim. This led to a disciplinary investigation and charges. The DRB noted that language difficulty impeded the attempt to unravel the situation. The attorneys offered differing versions of what had taken place and received mixed credibility reviews.

The DRB rejected charges of misconduct for "ghostwriting" pleadings but found that the attorneys had violated the rule that requires written fee disclosure to clients.

The case illuminates the ethical dangers that come into play when a desperate attorney takes a bad job. (Mike Frisch)

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