Desi Lawyers Behaving Badly

To my fellow Desi wanna-be esquires:

Remember how in law school you had that “Litigation Basics” class the first semester of your first year? Think back. It was probably one of those half-semester pass/fail deals where you spent class time surfing the net instead of taking notes. (Or was that just me). At the beginning of the term, the professor passes out a little booklet that says “Rules of Professional Conduct.” It lays out the ethical duties of attorneys, basically what they can and cannot do while practicing in that state. It covers client confidentiality, conflict of interest issues, etc. If you haven’t read your copy lately, may I suggest a refresher may be in order? Especially that part about “conduct…which tends to…. bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute” a.k.a known as asking your employees to have sex with you as part of their duties of employment. You think I jest?

Take Samir Zia Chowhan of Chowhan Law, an attorney practicing in Chicago, Illinois. Allegedly, one fine day, Mr. Chowdan decided his firm needed a secretary/legal assistant and where better to advertise than on the ‘Adult Gigs’ section of Craigslist? He posted a somewhat typical help-wanted ad.

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… If interested, please send current resume and a few pictures along with a description of your physical features, including measurements.

Measurements, eh? That’s a warning flag. Or is it? According to news sources, Ms. Debbie Dickinson, assuming the ad to be innocuous (?!?!) submits her resume, photo and measurements only to receive this reply.> 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. If you think you’re comfortable so far, please let me know and we can proceed with the process…

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.

Well, Ms. Dickinson forwards a copy of this email to the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, where a couple of days ago, they charged Mr. Chowan with misconduct. And it turns out Mr. Chowan may have also been negligent in the immigration cases of some of his desi clients. Read the entire transcript of the complaints against Mr. Chowan here.

Now I know what you guys are thinking, she was perusing the ‘Adult Gigs’ section, what did she expect? But I tend to see a lot of folks cross-post across categories in Craigslist. And while ‘Adult Gigs’ has its share of suspect ads, I can see the overall tone of this particular one fooling some folks into thinking it’s legit. Whaddya folks say? And let’s face it, whether or not he was forthcoming by posting in ‘Adult Gigs,’ this ad does no credit to the profession. On an aside, I wonder how many women applied for this job but didn’t think to report it? In this economy, there had to be plenty of applicants for a job paying 50 to 70K as advertised.

Lessons learned? Don’t jeopardize people’s immigration status by messing with their paperwork. Wait, no, that’s not it. Lessons learned? You tell me. Leave your best lawyer joke in the comment section. Bonus points for haiku and limericks.

Legally yours,

PG

26 thoughts on “Desi Lawyers Behaving Badly

  1. well Chowhan sa’ab is at least forthright.

    seriously though, there is a case ongoing in the lower courts here (in ontario) which could potentially decriminalize sex-work – both the act of solicitation and the offer. chowhan had best lift anchor and hop over the 45th for his daily jiggy.

  2. Um, wow. When I saw this on Twitter, I thought it was going to be about embezzling client funds or something! ;)

    I guess Mr. Chowan gets points for candor, but I’m mystified as to why he didn’t go the usual route for having his secretary fantasy fulfilled. Surely that’s less involved than hiring an employee, providing salary, health benefits, etc?

  3. I guess Mr. Chowan gets points for candor, but I’m mystified as to why he didn’t go the usual route for having his secretary fantasy fulfilled. Surely that’s less involved than hiring an employee, providing salary, health benefits, etc?

    yeah… but if shes your actual secretary, its more realistic

  4. but I’m mystified as to why he didn’t go the usual route for having his secretary fantasy fulfilled. Surely that’s less involved than hiring an employee, providing salary, health benefits, etc?

    Who would do the secretarial work then? A good desi always maximizes the amount of work they can give their employees. /sarcasm

    what a hoot!

  5. Who would do the secretarial work then? A good desi always maximizes the amount of work they can give their employees. /sarcasm

    Of course. More bang for the buck.

  6. hey.. dont be dissing chowhan. i actually think the guy’s playing fair. he knows what he wants and is clear about it at the onset.

  7. What kind of lawyer puts potentially incriminating info in his email?

    hey.. dont be dissing chowhan. i actually think the guy’s playing fair. he knows what he wants and is clear about it at the onset.

    Yes, a real modern-day Gandhi.

  8. Chowan sahib ji: You’ll lose your job you see; time to unzip your lips.

    Limerick-haiku hybrid…

  9. What kind of lawyer puts potentially incriminating info in his email?

    see. why exactly is it incriminating? actually my interest in this is peaked by the ongoing debate on decriminalizing sex work. it just surprises me that this should even be considered illegal or gasp immoral. tasteless maybe, but so what. chowhan should be nominated for man of the year, the great emancipator.

  10. Decriminalizing sex work is fine, but expecting it from your employee is wrong on so many levels. I am amazed that it needs to be spelled out. You are mixing two entirely different issues. In your utopia, it would still be wrong to walk up to a woman and say. “Hey babe wanna be my legal assistant? Your duties will include some paperwork and prostitution.”

  11. see. why exactly is it incriminating?

    It’s not about why. I was questioning the lawyer’s competence. Potentially incriminating under current law, of which he should have a passing knowledge.

  12. not if that duties spell out what will be expected. the cheapness of this does surprise me thoug. the local escorts charge upwards of a hundred dollars an hour i believe. Assuming a 20 hr work week that works out to $100,400 a year. i am sure chowhan was expecting something like a 40hr work week for a pay of $50K or so. That’s quite a markdown. Isnt that a MLID moment? The sad thing is that someone would probably have taken these guys up on the offer.

    dont be angry old man. seekingarrangement.com is acceptable and jesse the preacherman’s makign out with his ward. why take issue with poor old chowhan. the only legal loophole i see is that he would be hiring the secretary as a sex worker but not offering legitimate health benefits. [since the company insurance policy would probably not cover the scope of the secretary's work].

  13. The sad thing is that someone would probably have taken these guys up on the offer.

    No. The sad thing is that he didn’t get burned the first time around. The sad thing is he most likely took advantage of his immigration clients in a similar way. The sad thing is that you know how much local escorts charge. The glad thing is that he’s out of work living in Indiana.

  14. Not angry, just surprised. Don’t let the more-typos-than-usual post fool you. “This happens all the time,” is no excuse. All the points you mentioned and more. Maybe later if I have time. As an aside, decriminalizing sex work is great and all, but it is still a dangerous shitty job, regardless of what some douche economists think.

  15. Assuming a 20 hr work week that works out to $100,400 a year.

    Only if you assume no costs. She would probably have to get tested very regularly, bribe law enforcement officers, hire protection or work under a pimp/madam who can provide it (if it’s the latter they will probably skim a fair amount off the top), and risk all sorts of abuse.

    the only legal loophole i see is that he would be hiring the secretary as a sex worker but not offering legitimate health benefits.

    That’s not a legal loophole, it’s an ethical one. And it’s also not the only one in this story. Pay special attention to this line: But they have not been able to handle the sexual aspect of the job later Think about what this means. Got yourself a boyfriend? Kiss your job goodbye. Don’t feel like being a piece of meat today? There goes next month’s rent.

    Even if a girl thinks she’s okay with the arrangement, it’s doubtful that she would have thought out exactly what it would entail in the long-run. Just because he’s being upfront about what he wants doesn’t mean he’s not putting the girls who answer the ad in a tenuous position.

    And really, she has to “perform” during the interview just to get the job? Did he want a free sample?

    The sad thing is that you know how much local escorts charge.

    The Google. ’tis a powerful tool.

  16. The Google. ’tis a powerful tool.

    According to khoofi, the ol’ prune, it’s called seekingarrangement.com

  17. As an aside, decriminalizing sex work is great and all, but it is still a dangerous shitty job, regardless of what some douche economists think.

    i think levitt really should talk to his student sudhir venkatesh (pg 17) more. him and some people who actually know something about analyzing climate.

  18. Lol, he is one naughty lawyer.

    A lawyer joke.

    All a mosquito has to do to become a lawyer is wear a coat, it knows to suck blood already.

  19. Dear brownies, WHY is this letter addressed to “desi wannabe esquires” and why is it titled “desi lawyers behaving badly”? This is just one single isolated case. From CraigsList, for crying out loud.

  20. There once was a lawyer named Chow He needed some action right now He posted an ad For an assistant gone bad Thanks heavens the State won’t allow

  21. I can sympathize. The last hooker I hired called me sick and twisted because I wanted her to read legal briefs, too.