Legal Ethics

Well-Known Lawyer Fights Suspension for Not Supervising Paralegal

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Admittedly, attorney Stephen Hrones didn’t supervise his paralegal, Lionel Porter, the way he should have.

But a recommended suspension of the lawyer’s license to practice for a year and a day is too harsh a punishment, Hrones and his attorney, Elizabeth Mulvey, contend. They are seeking a three-month suspension, and asking that it not actually be imposed by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, the Boston Globe’s Metrodesk blog reports.

Among other mitigating factors, they point to Hrones having himself asked for an investigation after the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination banned his office from continuing to pursue cases there, apparently due to the way Porter, a law school graduate who was not admitted to the state bar, reportedly mishandled a number of matters.

Hrones, however, should have been aware that his paralegal was giving legal advice to clients and filing discrimination cases with the MCAD, according to attorney Susan Strauss Weisberg of the Office of Bar Counsel. She also contended during a court hearing today that Hrones fired Porter in 2004 only after the paralegal failed to pay Hrones a share of the legal fees he generated.

Hrones is perhaps best-known for his representation of Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter—often referred to in the media as “Crockefeller”—who claimed to be a member of the famous Rockefeller family and was convicted in a high-profile parental-kidnapping case. Hrones has been in practice since 1969 and has helped four wrongfully convicted clients win release, the newspaper notes.

“I just hope that I’m remembered for what I’ve done in a positive way, rather than this particular problem I face,” Hrones told the Globe after today’s hearing. “There’s no question, I’ve admitted it all along that I didn’t supervise as I should have.”

Earlier coverage: “High-Profile ‘Crockefeller’ Case Puts Spotlight on Lawyer’s Own Issues” “‘Crockefeller’ to Court: My Ex-Lawyer Said Too Much to the Media” “‘Crockefeller’ Lawyer Says He Was ‘Done In’ by Paralegal”

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