Now here’s an interesting situation: Brian Valery, a paralegal working for Anderson, Kill, a pretty large firm in Washington, D.C. ups and decides he’s going to tell his colleagues and supervisors that he’s going to law school. After a time, he decides he’s going to let them know he passed the bar. Impressed with his work and obviously in good with the partners, the firm hires Valery as an associate.
All is going well for about two years. So good, in fact, that Valery wins 50 cases for the firm. Come to find out, not only did Valery not pass the bar, he never even earned a law degree. Now, a New York judge has sentenced Valery to five years of probation. He must also return the $225,000 he earned from insurance-litigation firm Anderson Kill & Olick and serve 100 hours community service, the New York Post reported Thursday.
If this weren’t so serious, it might be funny. Does that mean that you don’t really need a law degree, that being a paralegal is sufficient? I mean, 50 wins in two years is pretty darn impressive! For every attorney who has ever put down a paralegal, take that! And that! We don’t even know if Valery received paralegal training and certainly, asking him won’t produce an acceptable answer.
It seems to me that the assignment level at which Valery performed as an "attorney " was actually that of a paralegal (since he had no law school degree). Yet he was paid the salary of a staff attorney. The firm really ought to be looking at its job descriptions for attorneys. Are its attorneys working at dummied down levels? Should their work really be assigned to paralegals? And, of course, should those paralegals be paid salaries at the staff attorney level? How does the client feel to know that its cases were won by a paralegal? Should they have to pay full fees for like-cases won by real attorneys in the firm? Hmmmm…..Interesting questions.