10 October 2007

From the "You Blew It" File:
He's Not A Lawyer, He Just Plays One in Real Life

Brian Valery wasn't really a lawyer. But he played one on TV at a prestigious Manhattan law firm!

Valery, the pride of Massapequa, Long Island, started as a paralegal at Manhattan's Anderson Kill & Olick, then falsely claimed he later got his law degree and passed the bar.

He was paid $100,000 salary from the firm for about two years. Clients were being billed upwards of $300 for Valery's infinite wisdom.

But then, somehow, my hero got caught. Maybe too many expense account dinners at stupid Le Cirque?

And today our hero pleaded guilty to second-degree grand larceny.

The Supreme Court Judge says he'll sentence Valery to five years probation if he repays at least $150,000 by his January 30 sentencing. Yeah, like he has it stashed under his mattress. If our hero fails to repay the money, the judge could send Valery to prison for five to 15 years! Ouch. At least he could study up and get his law degree in prison, right?

Steven Maass, who hired Mr. Valery’s former law firm, Anderson Kill & Olick, after Mr. Maass’s electronic trading business was destroyed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, thought Mr. Valery unimpressive but chalked it up to inexperience.

“All first- and second-year attorneys are pretty terrible,” Mr. Maass wrote in a recent exchange of e-mail messages.

True enough -- even though you're paying several hundred dollars an hour for that awfulness.

Anderson Kill is in the process of negotiating financial settlements with about 50 former "clients" of Valery.

What should be frightening to defenders of the monopoly that bar-admitted lawyers have upon the provision of legal services is that Valery, despite never having attended law school or taken the bar, didn't do that badly for himself. Maass found him to be no more useless than the typical junior associate. And Anderson Kill has not yet had any clients come forward to claim that Valery screwed up their cases. Of course, given how little responsibility junior associates are given, perhaps that's not surprising.

Case of the Paralegal Who Played a Lawyer Raises Many Questions {The Times}

Impersonating a Document Drone Junior Associate: Not As Hard As You Might Think {Above The Law}

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