Paradise v. Salvatore
A lawyer who represents another party and who allegedly fails to question an investor why he lacks independent counsel, or to send closing documents to the investor for his independent approval, can violate Rule 4.3. James Paradise worked to fund capital ventures at Credit Suisse. In 2009, Paradise met Joseph Gega. Gega allegedly offered Paradise the opportunity to provide capital and informed Paradise that Gega's attorney, the respondent, Genevieve Salvatore, would represent them both. Paradise agreed to loan $2.1 million. The respondent believed that she represented only Gega and a corporate entity, JP Enterprises LLC; that she was responsible to draft a real estate contract; and that Paradise would create JP Enterprises LLC. The respondent did not explain to Paradise that she did not represent him or suggest that he hire independent counsel. Eventually, Paradise discovered that the LLC had not been created, that the respondent did not represent him, and that there was no security for his loans. Rule 4.3 provides, "When the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that the unrepresented person misunderstands the lawyer's role in the matter, the lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to correct." Rule 4.3 adds, "The lawyer shall not give legal advice to an unrepresented person, other than the advice to secure counsel, if the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that the interests of such a person are or have a reasonable possibility of being in conflict with the interests of the client." The Statewide Grievance Committee found that a reasonably competent lawyer would have questioned Paradise why he lacked independent counsel and sent closing documents to Paradise, for his independent approval. The respondent should have known a reasonable probability existed that Paradise's interests and Gega's interests conflicted. The respondent offered an opinion about whether an encumbrance existed, discussed the type of security Paradise should request and issued title insurance. The Statewide Grievance Committee found that the respondent violated Rule 4.3. Absent a selfish or dishonest motive, the committee was not persuaded she engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice. The Statewide Grievance Committee ordered the respondent's presentment for discipline.