Wednesday, October 21, 2009

How not to practice law: when interviewing an applicant for a secretary position tell her that having sex with you is part of the job

The Illinois Adminstrator has filed a disciplinary complaint alleging three counts of misconduct against an attorney, one of which relates to a "want-ad" for a secretary. Keep reading. You wouldn't believe me if I told you the story, so I am just going to quote this in full.....

"On May 28, 2009, Respondent logged onto the Internet at his law office . . . through AT&T Internet Services, the Internet provider of the attorney who had an office in the same suite and building and from whom Respondent was then renting an office. At approximately 1:25 p.m. Respondent accessed the website, "," ("Craigslist") and posted an ad in the "Adult Gigs" section of the classified advertisements of Craigslist. The title of the post was "Loop lawyers hiring secretary/legal assistant." The post 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.

. . . On or about May 28, 2009, at 10:26 p.m., [an applicant] sent Respondent an e-mail response to Respondent’s posting. . . .Respondent responded by e-mail to [her] e-mail. Respondent’s response read as follows:

. . . Thank you for your interest in the job. I just wanted to give you some more info about the job and see if you are still interested in interviewing. Our law firm is a boutique firm, concentrating solely in immigration law. . . . You would be working with the two partners of the firm. Your duties will include the general secretarial work and legal work. The legal work will include filling out visa applications, etc.

. . . you would [also] 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. . . . .

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.

. . . [The applicant] was frightened by Respondent’s response and did not reply to Respondent’s e-mail. On or about June 1, 2009, [the applicant] sent a request for investigation to the Administrator of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission . . . As a result of [her] request, on June 3, 2009, the Administrator docketed an investigation... [and contacted the lawyer]. . . . In his response to counsel for the Administrator, Respondent stated as follows:

…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…

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. . . .

On September 22, 2009, Respondent appeared for a sworn statement at the Chicago office of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. At that time, Respondent was sworn upon his oath. In his statement, Respondent acknowledged that he posted the May 28, 2009 Craigslist advertisement and sent the May 29, 2009 responsive e-mail to [the applicant]..."

So, there you have it. I don't even know what to say!

Thanks to the Legal Profession Blog for the information.

UPDATE (July 2011):   This case has been finally decided and the attorney was imposed a one year suspension.  Go here for the story.

UPDATE (Dec 1, 2011):  The Illinois Supreme Court approved the sanction in this case.  For comments and reactions go here and here

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