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LAWYER REPRIMANDED IN PARALEGAL FEE-SPLIT HARTFORD, Conn. � When it comes to attorneys rewarding their employees, there are delicate ethical pitfalls to beware. Crossing the line from profit-sharing into illegal fee-splitting probably happens far more frequently than the few grievance cases on the topic would suggest. “The problem is, we know it goes on more than it should,” Connecticut Chief Disciplinary Counsel Mark Dubois said. But only in a fraction of the instances where it occurs does anyone ever register a complaint, Dubois surmised. Unfortunately for New Haven, Conn., attorney Miguel Rodriguez, his paralegal brought their fee-splitting beef to light. The argument, according to Dubois, was over just a few hundred dollars. But for grievance purposes, the monetary amount doesn’t matter, and Rodriguez now has another reprimand from the Statewide Grievance Committee on his record. Though lawyers can pay referral fees to other lawyers, paying them to a nonlawyer is not only an ethical no-no but it can have criminal consequences. According to Connecticut state law, any person who pays or rewards any other person to solicit an attorney and any person receiving or accepting payment or reward for referring a matter to an attorney can both be fined up to $1,000 and/or be imprisoned for up to three years. Some law firms, if they have a good year or good month, will share a portion of their overall profits with their employees � “That’s OK,” Dubois said. But when a nonlawyer employee brings in a case and then gets a cut of the contingency fee that case generates or a bonus for solely bringing the case in the door, it violates Rule 7.2(c) of the Connecticut Rules of Professional Conduct. The rule prohibits a lawyer giving anything of value to a person recommending his or her services. Rodriguez was able to settle his grievance matter with Dubois’ office through a conditional admission. In an affidavit to the grievance committee, Rodriguez acknowledged he had an “ill-defined” arrangement with the complainant, Christopher McNeil, “that might be perceived as fee splitting.” � Connecticut Law Tribune ATLANTA PARALEGALS OPEN UP ABOUT JOBS ATLANTA � What really makes a paralegal happy? Challenging tasks and a little recognition. Those were just two of the answers in a confidential survey of Atlanta-area paralegals conducted by the Fulton County Daily Report, a Recorder affiliate. The online survey received 217 responses. The survey polled paralegals on myriad career topics: experience, training, education, salary and benefits. It also examined how paralegals view their jobs, their likes and dislikes and suggestions for improvements. Nearly 75 percent of the respondents were from litigation firms, followed by corporate, real estate, bankruptcy, intellectual property and immigration practices. Most participants were employed by private firms. Office size ranged widely � from sole practitioners to those with more than 800 lawyers. Yes, salary is an important issue. But the paralegals surveyed placed a higher emphasis on work challenges. Thirty-one percent of respondents pointed to the challenge and interest level of work as what they valued most in a job. Flexibility was the most important issue for 24 percent of respondents. Only 13 percent named salary as the most important consideration. “I would rather have flextime and/or more vacation than more pay,” wrote one respondent. Those opinions were not eye-opening for some. “People like to be recognized in their career for their efforts,” says Marcus Li, president of the Georgia Association of Paralegals. “The kind of acknowledgement we most often hear lacking is acknowledgement and advancement of position. It’s sometimes appreciated more than simply money.” Lack of advancement possibilities was named by 25 percent of respondents as what they liked least about their jobs. “It’s the nature of the career path,” observes Andi Wysocki, a paralegal with Arnall Golden Gregory. “I don’t know what can be done about it.” Sure, she says, junior paralegals can move into senior paralegal spots, but the pay difference is negligible and the work is not significantly different. “They hit the ceiling, and that’s it,” Wysocki says, adding she has known people who left the profession as a result. Although 23 percent of respondents were not happy with their salary, money doesn’t matter when you don’t like the environment. A congenial work atmosphere and a feeling of teamwork were reported by some as factors in their job satisfaction. When questioned about work hours, nearly three-quarters of respondents averaged 40 to 50 hours per week. Twenty-two percent clocked fewer than 40 hours, and 4 percent worked 50 hours or more. � Fulton County Daily Report LEXISNEXIS CLOSES THE RESEARCH GAP For years one of the major distinctions separating Westlaw from LexisNexis was West’s headnote integration. Well, this gap in the capabilities of the two major legal research providers has apparently been closed with Lexis’ recent announcement that its Shepard’s Reports citation tool is now completely integrated with LexisNexis Headnotes. This integration of LexisNexis Headnotes into Shepard’s will permit faster and more effective validations as well as “looping” Shepard’s into the research process via Headnotes. With the integration of LexisNexis Headnotes and Shepard’s, legal researchers will benefit from:

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