Las Vegas lawyer is disbarred for forming law firm with nonlaywer who did most of the legal work

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A Las Vegas lawyer has been disbarred for forming a law firm with a nonlawyer who held himself out as an attorney, met with clients and provided legal advice.

The Nevada Supreme Court disbarred lawyer Gianna M. Orlandi of Las Vegas in Nov. 22 order, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports in a story noted by the Legal Profession Blog.

Orlandi and her late husband, defense lawyer James “Bucky” Buchanan, were known for their “legendary charity events,” according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Buchanan died in 2009 when he had a medical episode while driving and crashed his Ferrari, according to the newspaper.

Orlandi was once a former deputy attorney general in Nevada, according to a profile in the Los Angeles Times of her husband published in 2006.

The State Bar of Nevada obtained a default judgment against Orlandi when she did not answer the ethics complaint. As a result, the bar’s allegations against Orlandi were deemed admitted. According to the state supreme court, Orlandi:

    • Failed to supervise the nonattorney working on their law firm’s cases. Orlandi had formed a law firm with the nonlaywer, and he performed most of the legal work. The nonattorney also propositioned a client, implying that he would pay for or provide legal services in exchange for companionship.

    • Continued to bill a client for the nonattorney’s services after the client asked that no further work be done.

    • Began working without permission on cases of clients who had hired the nonattorney and billed them for services after they ended the representation.

    • Told an opposing lawyer that she was no longer working on a case without informing the client.

    • Improperly claimed to the state bar that she was exempt from maintaining a client trust account.

“Orlandi’s clients suffered actual injury because they unknowingly hired and paid a nonattorney to represent them, resulting in adverse consequences, with the potential for further serious injury,” the state supreme court said.

Orlandi did not have a prior disciplinary record. She didn’t immediately respond to an ABA Journal voicemail left at a number listed with the state bar.

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