Legal Ethics

Lawyer Is Suspended from Law Practice for Taking Quest for a Promotion Too Far

An assistant corporation counsel accused of threatening a lawsuit against his boss unless he got a promotion and some cash has been suspended from law practice for a year.

The lawyer, Neil Howard Braunstein of Fanwood, N.J., pleaded guilty to attempted criminal coercion for the threatened lawsuit, according to the Legal Profession Blog and a decision (PDF) by the state Disciplinary Review Board. In a May 9 order, the New Jersey Supreme Court ordered the suspension and said Braunstein could not be reinstated until he submits proof of his fitness to practice law based on findings of a mental health professional.

Braunstein was accused of threatening a suit that claimed the corporation counsel director in Newark, N.J., had improperly awarded a contract to his former law firm and had engaged in workplace discrimination. Braunstein wanted a promotion and $750,000 in exchange for his silence, according to a tape of his demand.

Braunstein was sentenced to two years of probation and 100 hours of community service in the criminal case. The judge also ordered him to forfeit his public office.

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