Attorney Misconduct, Lawyer of the Day, Legal Ethics, Prostitution, Sex, Small Law Firms

Lawyer of the Day Last Week: Seeking a Sexy Secretary

Secretary.jpgEd. note: We gave this a shout-out last week in non-sequiturs (second item), but it’s egregious enough to merit more discussion.

Biglaw attorneys frequently complain about how hard it is to date given the amount of hours they devote to work. Attorneys at a small immigration firm in Chicago may have encountered a similar dilemma.

Perhaps inspired by Maggie Gyllenhaal’s cinematic portrayal of a sex-enjoying legal secretary, Samir Zia Chowhan of Chowhan Law allegedly advertised on Craigslist, in the “Adult Gigs” section, for a secretary with benefits. From Legal Profession Blog:

Loop law firm looking to hire am [sic] energetic woman for their open secretary/legal assistant position. Duties will include general secretarial work, some paralegal work and additional duties for two lawyers in the firm. No experience required, training will be provided. Generous annual salary and benefits will be provided, including medical, dental, life, disability, 401(k) etc. If interested, please send current resume and a few pictures along with a description of your physical features, including measurements. We look forward to meeting you.

Many of you will recall that Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan waged a war against Craigslist’s “Erotic Services” section earlier this year, claiming that there was rampant prostitution there. By her doing, the section was taken down and replaced by this “Adult Gigs” section, which is supposedly more closely monitored for illegal activity. But in our surfing of the section, we saw quite a few ads like Chowhan’s, including ones like this: “I’m seeking a young lady who would like to have some fun with me, possibly on a regular basis, in exchange for some help with bills or whatever.”

At least Chowhan was a little more discreet in his May 2009 ad. But when one woman responded, he made it clear why he had listed the job in the Adult Gigs section.

He defines “additional duties,” after the jump.

The correspondence was made public when a complaint was filed against Chowhan last week, both for the ad and for neglect and misrepresentation in two immigration cases. According to the complaint, Chowhan wrote to the woman who applied for the position:

As this is posted in the “adult gigs” section, in addition to the legal work, you would be required to have sexual interaction with me and my partner, sometimes together sometimes separate. This part of the job would require sexy dressing and flirtatious interaction with me and my partner, as well as sexual interaction. You will have to be comfortable doing this with us.

Since that’s part of the job, that should be part of the interview process, obviously:

Lastly, we’ve actually hired a couple of girls in the past for this position. But they have not been able to handle the sexual aspect of the job later. We have to be sure you’re comfortable with that aspect, because I don’t want you to do anything that you’re not comfortable with. So since that time, we’ve decided that as part of the interview process you’ll be required to perform for us sexually (i didn’t do this before with the other girls i hired, now i think i have to because they couldn’t handle it). Because that aspect is an integral part of the job, I think it’s necessary to see if you can do that, because it’ll predict future behavior of you being able to handle it when you have the job.

Now that Chowhan has informed the applicant that the job involves handling pressure and relieving pressure, he’s ready to give her a test run:

The next step is to set up an interview. When are you available to interview? I am free to interview today. Please let me know what your availability is.

It’s hard out there for legal support staff these days. We wrote in March about the layoffs hitting their ranks hard — see Support Staff Taking it on the Chin. With jobs like this, they’re being asked to take “it” in places beyond the chin.

It’s not a completely wild idea. Laid-off lawyer Deidre Dare, formerly of Allen & Overy’s Moscow office, has floated prostitution as a potential income stream. But in his letter to the applicant, Chowhan said this job would pay between $50,000 and $75,000. If you’re being asked to prostitute yourself along with secretarial duties, shouldn’t that come with six-figures attached?

In re Samir Zia Chowhan [Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission]
“Adult Gig” Craigslist Post Leads To False Statement Charges [Legal Profession Blog via Legal Blog Watch]
Attorney may face disciplinary action over ad seeking secretary on Craigslist [Chicago Tribune]

Earlier: Craigslist Relents: No More ‘Erotic Services’
Support Staff Taking it on the Chin
Deidre Dare Proposes Prostitution as a Layoff Solution?

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