5 Lessons From the Lawyer Suspended for Fake Pics With Celebrities

By William Peacock, Esq. on September 18, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Earlier today, we covered the best damn disciplinary opinion we've ever read, mostly due to the contributions of the defendant herself, Svitlana Sangary. (Quick recap: Sangary got busted for posting fake pictures of herself with celebrities on the "Publicity" page of her law firm's website.)

Sangary's philosophies on life, determination, and strength were so inspiring that we figured we'd share what we learned with all of you young attorneys out there, just starting out in the world.

Just remember: "Wikipedia [and FindLaw] describe it. SANGARY exemplifies it." Here are five takeaways:

1. Life Gives Lemons? Make Bloody, Sweaty Lemonade.

Sangary had this to say in response to the allegations against her:

Such optimism, even in the face of multiple disciplinary counts. Life can get rough. Haters will hate. And disciplinary boards will try to mete out discipline. You will survive.

2. Yelp Reviews Can Be a Real Bummer.

Again, Sangary in her own words:

For folks setting up their own shop, and for any small business in general, Yelp can be their worst nightmare. Sangary's Yelp reviews, to put it nicely, show room for improvement. As we've noted in the past, dealing with negative reviews requires a mix of professionalism, customer service, and adherence to ethics rules.

Bonus tip: Leave negative Yelp reviews out of an unrelated false advertising disciplinary hearing.

3. It Ain't Easy Being a Celebrity (Photoshopper).

You probably know this by now: False advertising, especially by lawyers, is prohibited. And placing dozens of allegedly photoshopped photos of yourself with celebrities in a "Publicity" section of your lawyer website is, well, deceptive, false, misleading, and hilarious.

Stick with photos of real friends, and if you have 'em, happy testimonials (with whatever variation on "results not guaranteed" that your state bar requires).

4. You Have a First Fifth Amendment Right Against Self-Incrimination.

From the State Bar Court's decision:

First, Fifth, whatever. Either way, don't incriminate yourself.

5. Seriously, Don't Incriminate Yourself.

No, seriously, stop incriminating yourself. This is a good tip for, well, all law practice: Double-check your attachments.

While the photoshopping issue was pending, a second complaint came in after Sangary allegedly refused to turn over a client's file. In her response to that allegation, she included an email from the previous year when she scolded an attorney for not turning over a client file.

The disciplinary opinion found that she willfully violated the rule because she certainly knew what the rule was, as shown by that unfortunate attachment.

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