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Old 04-23-2010, 05:49 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 3
Exclamation Stuck in an ethical and moral dilema

This is a bit twisted and long, so please bear with me as I attempt to paint the scenario I am facing and hopefully someone can advise me!
I work with an attorney as a researcher/information consultant. (I am very good at what I do, often exceeding expectations) Over the past several years I have noticed that she (let's call her N)has become increasingly unprofessional. N has gotten into the habit of talking about clients in detail to other clients, does not maintain any system of accounting,does not deposit advance fees to the required trust account and uses the money for her own personal use, then when it is time to file and serve paperwork, she calls at the very last minute screaming at the client about how they need to go pay the court fees/service/etc.,and if the client starts to question her re the advanced money, she will swear up and down that they did not give her X amount of money, always claiming it was much less, then proceeds to manipulate clients by holding them emotionally hostage telling them that if they don't send her money her phone will be shut off, her electricity,etc and that she won't be able to represent them any longer. She has gotten into the habit of getting "sick" when she has a court appearance, not following up on strategies, and interestingly enough, the last 3 cases she has handled, she
avoids court,mostly because she hasn't done work she promised,drawing these poor people's cases out so long-then has the nerve to complain about how it is the client who is difficult.
N has shown signs of increasing medication use- pills that one employee witnessed her order online-some sort of pain pill, as well as an "upper"... whatever she is taking makes her sound like she is drunk or really high. Problem with this is she LOVES to get on the phone at 3 in the morning and call one or all of us with all sorts of BS, and if she's not on the phone then she is emailing very problematic emails to opposing counsel.
At the moment we have a client who's divorce settlement has been pending for more than 4 years. She demands a bigger than celebrity request list of personal items that she expects client to provide when she travels. I get my work done in a timely fashion,but as forgetful as she's been, N jumps all over me and the paralegal to complete work we have already given her, only to find out that she didn't file it or when I provide her with investigation reports she doesn't do her lawyer end of things and again, the case gets postponed, or she blabs to OC before any disclosure has been given, about what "we" have on OP and sabotages the case.Anyway... This client had given her a healthy retainer, plus advanced fees in the amount of $6000. In the meantime she failed to show for court on more than one occasion, and still had the nerve to bring up a billing issue with the judge (oh, she made it to THAT hearing) He ordered that the client pay X amount (double digits in thousands) yet cautioned N that this money should see her thru trial. Guess what? Last week she called client and told her she had to pay an additional $1000 for filing costs and service! When questioned about the money she was already paid to cover these things, she just replied that it was gone. Mind you- client is paying paralegal, doc writer, and myself directly-N has no payroll to deduct from advance other than her earned fees, but she doesn't do any of the work! I have caught her trying to bill a client for services that were outsourced and she's invoiced that she did the work. This client has been confiding in me and I truly sympathize. She wants to fire N, however she feels it is too late-feels like it would hurt her case to switch lawyers now, but N is obscene! Her billing practices are beyond unethical. She violates the atty client priv regularly by discussing in detail (with names) other cases to other clients. She finds excuses to not file papers, to not follow a particular line of defense (OP/OC have ripped our client to pieces, yet N has not to this day, even as much as requested a subpeanoa for clients exes income -- he has never disclosed to court- and yes its been more than 4 years-
I suppose I need to know if A) I, myself, have an obligation to report her for at least the breach of client trust and misappropriation of funds B)How much of what I know is confidential info and can't be used in reporting C) What should this client do? D) or should i just let it go?
I'd appreciate any advice or thoughts on this situation.
Thanks!
imaprincess is offline  
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