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A Word of Advice – Don’t Let Nonlawyers Use Your Electronic Filing Password

Matter of Davis 2014 NY Slip Op 07080.

A bankruptcy lawyer was disciplined for allowing a third party to use his electronic login to file bankruptcy petitions. The pertinent part of the opinion states:

At issue were four involuntary bankruptcy petitions filed between June and December 2011 against debtor Joseph Lipschitz; three of the petitions were filed by purported pro se creditor Manuel Goldsmith and the fourth was filed by Mendel Minko, also a pro se creditor [FN1]. Two of the petitions were filed with the Southern District and the other two were filed with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of New York. The first petition was withdrawn by the petitioner creditor and the subsequent three were dismissed for failure to [*2]prosecute.[FN2]

In his response to the order to show cause, respondent explained that the filings at issue were made on behalf of the creditors, Goldsmith and Minko, by Benjamin Herbst, a nonattorney and Executive Director of the Council for Community Preservation, Inc. (CCPI), a community organization which had an affiliation with a paralegal training program. In providing legal services to the community, respondent had previously used Herbst and paralegal students in preparing legal documents. Respondent had permitted Herbst to use his ECF username and password when filing bankruptcy cases in which respondent was retained as counsel. However, in the case of the Lipschitz filings, for which respondent was not retained as the attorney, Herbst used respondent’s ECF password without informing him that he was doing so, and without his permission.

Respondent subsequently discovered that Herbst and his paralegal students had used his ECF password on other occasions without his knowledge or consent. Respondent emphasized that: he terminated his relationship with Herbst and CCPI; he no longer accepts referrals from them; and he was extricating himself from representing clients referred to him through CCPI.”

In sum, an unfortunate situation where a lawyer allowed a third party to use his electronic password and file court pleadings and papers.

Edward X. Clinton, Jr.