Sex, Secretaries and Audacious Attorneys

J0315570   Sometimes, you're just plain shocked at behavior. Legal Blog Watchreported today a  bombshell of a complaint over a May 2009 ad on Craigslist under "Adult Gigs" for a secretary/legal assistant. The ad was titled: "Loop lawyers hiring secretary/legal assistant." It read as follows:

Loop law firm looking to hire am [sic] energetic woman for their open secretary/legal assistant position. Duties will include general secretarial work, some paralegal work and additional duties for two lawyers in the firm. No experience required, training will be provided. Generous annual salary and benefits will be provided, including medical, dental, life, disability, 401(k) etc. If interested, please send current resume and a few pictures along with a description of your physical features, including measurements. We look forward to meeting you.

A candidate sent her information including a photo, height, size and measurements. Now, why a legal secretary would not know that laws state giving out information such as personal statistics and photos are no-no's, I don't know.  However, knowing the law and being a victim are two different things.

The next day, the attorney allegedly responded with an e-mail that gave some basic information about the position, but then went on to state:

As this is posted in the "adult gigs" section, in addition to the legal work, you would be required to have sexual interaction with me and my partner, sometimes together sometimes separate. This part of the job would require sexy dressing and flirtatious interaction with me and my partner, as well as sexual interaction. You will have to be comfortable doing this with us.

If you think you're comfortable so far, please let me know and we can proceed with the process.

The next step is to set up an interview. When are you available to interview? I am free to interview today. Please let me know what your availability is.

Lastly, we've actually hired a couple of girls in the past for this position. But they have not been able to handle the sexual aspect of the job later. We have to be sure you're comfortable with that aspect, because I don't want you to do anything that you're not comfortable with. So since that time, we've decided that as part of the interview process you'll be required to perform for us sexually (i didn't do this before with the other girls i hired, now i think i have to because they couldn't handle it). Because that aspect is an integral part of the job, I think it's necessary to see if you can do that, because it'll predict future behavior of you being able to handle it when you have the job.

If you're still okay with everything, let me know what you're availability is and we can figure out a time for you to come in and interview. Let me know. Thanks for your interest.

When I first read this, I thought it was written by a teenager as some kind of weird joke.  However, after the candidate complained to the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, an investigation was conducted. The attorney initially responded that:

it appears that somebody with malice [sic] intentions has used my business information to post the advertisement on Craigslist. I did not post the advertisement for a legal secretary…

OK, I understand that someone being maligned on the Internet.  I really do.  There is someone calling themselves a "paralegal expert" down in Georgia who has harassed me via the Internet for a year and a half now, interfering with my business, makes threatening phone calls to my son, posts unbelievable things on list servs and more.  (They most likely will read this and try something else again but I continue to stand up for myself.) I never know what they are going to pull next.  It's vicious, illegal, disturbed behavior and several colleagues and I are ready to seek any and all legal remedies available to us. People like that aren't worth the time of day. Anyway, I digress. I'm talking about how this article elicited empathy, albeit undeserved.

But then, the article goes on to state that "when the attorney was required to give a sworn statement before the Disciplinary Commission, he admitted that he did, in fact, post the Craigslist advertisement and send the follow-up e-mail to the applicant."

This is actually scary.  If what he says is true, that they actually "hired" several legal secretaries who went through that, I sure hope that they are not too scared to come forward and file complaints. Aside from the illegal actions, the hatred of women is very apparent.  This is one of those times that you have a tough time believing what you read.   If this isn't some kind of hoax (and I trust Legal Blog Watch's reporting), just how widespread and how long has this gone on?  

4 Replies to “Sex, Secretaries and Audacious Attorneys”

  1. I tweeted this earlier today, under the category of hoping I’d never be that desperate for a job. I’ve had a chance to think about it a little more since then.

    The link to the complaint goes straight back to the website of the Illinois Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission. While I know the attorney discipline types can be wild and crazy guys in their own rite (I worked for one here in Michigan for 11 years), it would be very hard to pull that off. So I too doubt it is a hoax.

    Interesting note: The Craigslist ad incident is Count Three in a three-count complaint. And it is not the ad itself that is alleged to be misconduct. The misconduct charged concern’s the attorney-respondent’s alleged false statement in his answer to the job applicant’s request for investigation: “Respondent’s statement that he did not post the advertisement on Craigslist….was false, and Respondent knew it was false when he made it, because Respondent did in fact post the advertisement on Craigslist and knew when he responded to the ARDC investigation that he had in fact posted the advertisement.”

    Counts One and Two both involve neglect and misrepresentation in two separate immigration matters. Had the attorney-respondent not been charged with substantive misconduct regarding two immigration client matters, and had he not initially denied that he placed the ad on Craigslist, he probably would not have been charged with misconduct at all.

  2. OMG. Which is worse? Their actions or the fact he might not have been charged? This is very much like the “old” days when authorities dismissed spousal abuse as “between the husband and the wife.”

  3. Attorney discipline in most states is more concerned with keeping up appearances than with addressing egregious unethical conduct. In June of 2007, I filed a grievance against a Wisconsin prosecutor for directing a witness to commit perjury (which he did), and making false statements to the court (about special treatment afforded that witness). The Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) investigator denied the grievance because I do not have a relationship with the attorney complained of and I am not a resident of Wisconsin. I objected because no supreme court rule limits who can file a complaint against a lawyer. My grievance was reinstated, but denied again because the conviction in the underlying case was on appeal. I objected again, because appellate courts do not review unethical conduct by the attorneys in a case. (Come on, these investigators have to know better.) Again, my grievance was reinstated.

    The third review must be a charm. A little over 2 years after I filed the complaint, the review panel found cause to proceed against the attorney for fraud, deceit and misrepresentation in instructing her client to lie under oath and then lying to the judge about it (2 counts) and for knowingly withholding exculpatory evidence. The charges are not negotiable and a public complaint will be filed in 2010 (because there are so many attorney misconduct complaints in line in front of it.)

    Most people don’t stick with it, vigorously object to denials and continue to demand that attorneys be held to the oaths they take. It is exhausting.

  4. Just because they made through law school doesn’t mean that they’re not jerks. Well educated jerks, and sometimes very well paid jerks, but jerks, nevertheless.

    It’s only a matter of time before these dudes (because that’s what they are) wind up in serious hurt-and probably dead-because of their appetites. They keep this nonsense up and somebody somewhere along the line is going to get mad and either bring criminal charges (we hope) or do criminal things (probably far more likely).

    And the world will then be a little better place for awhile.

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