Lawyer Suspended for Outrageous Harassment of Paralegal

The Ohio Supreme Court recently suspended Cleveland lawyer Howard E. Skolnick for one year with six months deferred for his outrageous harassment of a paralegal. See Disciplinary Counsel v. Skolnick, No. 2018-Ohio-2990 (Aug 1. 2018). The court described Skolnick’s conduct as follows:

During [the paralegal’s] two-and a-half year tenure, Skolnick berated her for her physical appearance, dress, education, and parenting skills. He called her a bitch, a “hoe”, a dirtbag, and a piece of shit, and he told her that he hoped she would die. And because [the paralegal] recorded her interactions with Skolnick on more than 30 occasions, we have had the opportunity to hear Skolnick’s outbursts for ourselves.

Id. at 5. In addition, Skolnick “called her stupid, dumb, fat, ‘whorey,’ and bitch.” Further, he remarked that she should give him “road head” during a drive and falsely told an African American client that the paralegal “did not like black people.” Id. at 3.

Skolnick’s defense? He “learned the lingo from rappers and hip-hop artists while practicing entertainment law and that he believed he was using the phrases in more of a humorous than a harmful way.” Id. at 5.

Unpersuaded, the court found that Skolnick violated Ohio Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(h), which prohibits a lawyer from engaging in conduct that “adversely reflects on the lawyer’s fitness to practice law.” See Ohio Rules of Prof’l Conduct r. 8.4(h).

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