Today’s New York Times has an interesting article on Brian Valery, the bestest paralegal ever. The article may actually say less about Valery and more about the general uselessness of junior associates. Consider this:
Steven Maass, who hired Mr. Valery’s former law firm, Anderson Kill & Olick, after Mr. Maass’s electronic trading business was destroyed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, thought Mr. Valery unimpressive but chalked it up to inexperience.
“All first- and second-year attorneys are pretty terrible,” Mr. Maass wrote in a recent exchange of e-mail messages.
True enough — even though you’re paying several hundred dollars an hour for that awfulness. In Valery’s case, he was billed out at $300 per hour. Anderson Kill is in the process of negotiating financial settlements with about 50 former “clients” of Valery.
What should be frightening to defenders of the monopoly that bar-admitted lawyers have upon the provision of legal services is that Valery, despite never having attended law school or taken the bar, didn’t do that badly for himself. Maass found him to be no more useless than the typical junior associate. And Anderson Kill has not yet had any clients come forward to claim that Valery screwed up their cases. (Of course, given how little responsibility junior associates are given, perhaps that’s not surprising.)
Some food for thought:
Connecticut authorities debated what Mr. Dubois called the “metaphysical question” of whether they could even disbar someone who was never a lawyer and had only temporary privileges to practice in the state. They decided they could, and should, to keep other states from issuing privileges based on the faulty Connecticut credentials.
Anderson Kill’s chairman, Jeffrey L. Glatzer, euphemistically refers to the Valery episode as “the unfortunate incident.” Not bad. But if it were up to us, we would have gone with “The Late Unpleasantness,” “That Not-So-Fresh Feeling in the Legal Briefs,” or “The Smell of Napalm in the Document Room.”
Case of the Paralegal Who Played a Lawyer Raises Many Questions [New York Times]
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Brian Valery (scroll down)