The Appellate Division, First Department, at 27 Madison Ave. (NYLJ/Rick Kopstein)
A young Manhattan attorney who ran a firm’s practice by wrongfully taking instructions from her old boss, who was suspended from practicing law, has now been suspended herself by a state appeals court.
Natalia Sishodia, admitted to practice in 2014, will serve a two-year suspension in New York state after she helped manage the Manhattan boutique of Felix Nihamin and Associates by taking a “significant number of actions at the direction” of Felix Nihamin.
Sishodia, now 33, also lied about and/or “falsely minimized” Nihamin’s role in an affidavit, an answer, an interview, a letter and deposition testimony, said an Appellate Division, First Department, panel in a Sept. 5 opinion in Matter of Sishodia, 2017 NY Slip Op 06407.
Her misleading statements came before and after an attorney grievance committee commenced a 2015 sua sponte investigation into her actions, wrote Justices David Friedman, Angela Mazzarelli, Karla Moskowitz, Judith Gische and Ellen Gesmer.
Sishodia had left the firm in August 2014 to be a stay-at-home parent, the panel said. But in October, Nihamin learned he would be suspended for months, so he contacted Sishodia and asked her to manage the firm.
She agreed, returning as managing attorney. In addition to then taking directions from Nihamin, she signed blank checks from an operating account for legitimate expenses, some of which were later secretly made payable to Nihamin by a bookkeeper, according to the court.
Among wrongful acts admitted to by Sishodia—who asked the panel, via a joint motion with the grievance committee, for a two-year suspension—were: aiding a nonlawyer in the unauthorized practice of law; making a false statement of fact to a tribunal; and engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.
Michael Ross, of the Law Offices of Michael S. Ross in Manhattan, represented Sishodia.
“Ms. Sishodia recognizes that her lack of candor impacted the length of her suspension,” he said on Friday in a phone interview. “She deeply regrets her contact with Mr. Nihamin, and deeply regrets her lack of candor with the committee.”
Orlando Reyes represented the First Department grievance committee. A spokeswoman for the grievance committee declined to comment.