Friday, June 8, 2018

Practice Pointer: Avoid Telling Client To "Go F**k Yourself"

A paralegal engaged in misconduct and was suspended for four months by the Tribunal Hearing Division of the Upper Canada Law Society.

The Paralegal, Pasquale Perrelli Jr., admitted that he committed various acts of professional misconduct: sending a client an offensive text message; failing to attend court dates and to keep a client’s appointment without explanation; not depositing client monies into trust; and not promptly and completely responding to the Law Society in two investigations. This is Mr. Perrelli’s second time being disciplined: in 2011, he was suspended for not responding to the Law Society...

 Mr. Perrelli has been a licensed paralegal since the Law Society first began to regulate paralegals in 2008. His misconduct has a common theme: he has not acted with the professionalism and respect for duties owed to his regulator that are required of a regulated professional.

The first set of allegations relates to Mr. Perrelli’s assistance to an ongoing client, AB, in getting representation for the client’s cousin, CD, on an immigration matter. Mr. Perrelli contacted an acquaintance, David Caporiccio (who it later turned out was neither a licensed paralegal nor a licensed immigration consultant), to represent CD. Mr. Perrelli was present at meetings between Mr. Caporiccio and the clients and was involved in arranging payment of a $2,500 retainer to Mr. Caporiccio.

When Mr. Caporiccio did no work on the matter, AB wanted the money back and communicated with Mr. Perrelli by text about it. Mr. Perrelli sent CD $500, but the clients understandably also wanted the remaining $2,000. Mr. Perrelli told his client he should get the money from Mr. Caporiccio. In the course of this text discussion, Mr. Perrelli wrote to AB: “Go Fuck yourself.”

Costs

The most significant question is whether Mr. Perrelli’s financial circumstances warrant a reduction and if so, how much. An annual income of about $40,000 is modest for the lawyer and paralegal professions, although not as low as some licensees who come before the Tribunal. Mr. Perrelli has three children whom he supports. He is financially strapped right now. On the other hand, he has had a considerable amount of money to invest in an overseas venture that he expects to pay off within the next two years. In my view, while that should result in more time to pay, the licensees of the Law Society should not bear the cost of his investment choices. In these circumstances, taking into account his annual income, I am prepared to make a modest reduction from the starting point of $7,500 and award $6,000 in costs, payable within two years.

(Mike Frisch)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2018/06/a-paralegal-engaged-in-misconduct-when-mr-caporiccio-did-no-work-on-the-matter-ab-wanted-the-money-back-and-communicated.html

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