Florida Lawyers Face Disciplinary Charges After Representing “Bubba the Love Sponge Clem” Blog, by Tom Feher, Thompson Hine LLP, The Law for Lawyers Today, © Copyright 2006-2015 Globe Business Publishing Ltd (with hat tip to William P. Statsky!)
There has been a long, ongoing discussion in our profession about whether paralegals should have a certain level of paralegal education or whether it is sufficient to have experience alone. This article makes a good argument that, one way or another, in-depth education in legal ethics is critical for paralegals and all support staff. This subject deserves, and needs, special attention.
We make the mistake of thinking that lawyers know every nuance to supervising paralegals, and that is not always the case. It is not enough pick up a short review of legal ethics at a CLE seminar. You should be brushing up constantly, just as you would court rules or any other integral part of your job.
This example is one of the most extreme ethical violations I have ever seen by paralegals and attorneys. You cannot make up this stuff. -CCE
Sometimes our lessons come in more bizarre ways than others. As reported by Law360 last week (subscription required), three Florida lawyers were charged by disciplinary authorities over a January 2013 incident involving the firm’s paralegal. The three lawyers were defending defamation claims against their client, who was a local radio talk show host known as ‘Bubba the Love Sponge Clem.’ The plaintiff was another radio personality.
Reports at the time suggested that, on the evening after the media-focused defamation trial started, the defense firm’s paralegal spotted plaintiff’s counsel at a local bar near his home. She contacted lawyers at her firm, returned to the bar with a friend, and sat down next to opposing counsel. Over the next two hours, the paralegal is reported to have lied about where she worked, flirted with opposing counsel and ordered drinks, including buying defense counsel a vodka cocktail and shots of Southern Comfort. She also stayed in touch with the three lawyers from her firm, sending them more than 90 texts and emails over the course of the evening. . . .