Legal Ethics

Paralegal Who Falsely Claimed to Be a Doctor, Then Became a Lawyer, Has Law License Suspended

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In the latest example of a law firm burned after apparently failing to confirm a worker’s credentials, the Legal Profession Blog is reporting that a Massachusetts attorney’s law license has been suspended for two years because she falsely held herself out as a physician.

Susan Friery, who had taken courses toward a doctorate degree in pathology and worked as a morgue technician, initially began working as a paralegal for Kreindler & Kreindler around 1987.

She claimed to have graduated in the top 1 percent of her class at Columbia University’s medical school, according to the blog and a law firm press release announcing her 2009 elevation to partner. The firm had encouraged her to become an attorney and paid for most of her tuition at New York Law School, then employed her as an associate in its New York and Boston offices.

However, as Friery informed the firm after leaving in 2011, she in fact never earned a medical degree. She had attended some courses at SUNY Buffalo School of Medicine without obtaining a degree, explains a summary of a Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts order (PDF) imposing the law license suspension.

Related coverage: (2009): “Chicago Grad & BigLaw Alum Admits Altered Grades; 3-Year Suspension Sought”

New York Times (1988): “10 Years as Practitioner, None as Lawyer”

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