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Paralegal Impersonated Attorney in Family Court
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Neal PomperA lawyer who sent his paralegal to a court hearing where she advocated for a client should be censured, a Disciplinary Review Board has ruled.

Both the District VIII Ethics Committee and the DRB have determined that attorney Neal Pomper of Highland Park, New Jersey, breached the Rules of Professional Conduct, assisting the unauthorized practice of law, and violated ethics rules.

Pomper sent paralegal Larissa Sufaru to a hearing in Somerset County Family Part in May 2006, with client Bruce Finney, whom Pomper represented in a child support matter. At the hearing, Sufaru identified herself as a lawyer, entered an appearance on the record, allowed herself to be addressed as “counselor” without objecting and advocated for Finney on the support issue.

  
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The DRB opinion did not explain how it became known that Sufaru was not an attorney.

Pomper claimed Finney was awaiting the result of a blood test to determine paternity and he thought the hearing would address only that issue and not child support. Finney had asked the court to put off the support hearing until paternity was resolved. The notice for a “hearing after blood test” stated, “You may bring an attorney with you, although an attorney is not required.”

Even if there was confusion, nonlawyers are also not allowed to represent clients at paternity hearings.

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Pomper testified he had “severely admonished” Sufaru for going ahead with the support hearing and had “taken steps” to prevent a recurrence. He also refunded Finney’s $750 retainer.

Via NJ Law Journal.





 

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