Fake Lawyer Sued for Fraud: Will He Hire Counsel?

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on May 09, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In a perfect world, the teen in West Palm Beach who played doctor professionally and was recently criminally charged would be represented by the man accused of moonlighting as a lawyer in the local courts. But ours is not a perfect world, as evidenced by the fact that Paul Donahue posed as a lawyer in Florida after being arrested for impersonating an investigator in North Dakota.

The claims about Donahue are made in a civil complaint filed against him in Palm Beach County Court last month. The accusations are alarming and amusing. One of the plaintiffs says Donahue ran a tacit law firm while the other, reports Courthouse News Service, says he pretended to be an attorney in front of a veteran county court judge.


Appearing in County Court

Plaintiff David Bouchard complained that Christopher Donahue allegedly appeared in court on a DUI case, handled the arraignment, and signed papers in Judge Bosso-Pardo's courtroom but wasn't a licensed attorney. Bouchard said Donahue gave him legal advice, and did say he was an attorney, which is strange.

It is not strange that the judge did not question the attorney's credentials -- DUIs are routine cases in county court, which is usually packed with defendants. Judges inevitably have a lot on the docket and rarely, if ever, are lawyers questioned about their ability to practice . They are there to represent the accused, not prove they are licensed.

But you do need a license to practice law, and it seems Donahue did not have one. This didn't stop him from running a secret law firm of sort, claims another plaintiff.

Liquid Communications

Jennifer Goldstein, the other plaintiff, says that Donahue duped her into thinking he was a lawyer. She said that his public relations firm sold legal services -- illegally. According to her, the PR firm Liquid Communications, also named in the suit, practiced law, billed for it, and tried to represent her in an employment claim.

Donahue responded to the complaint in a statement to reporters, saying that it was full of factual errors. He said that he never received fees, nor did his firm, and that the plaintiffs had been his friends. Whether his claims are believable remains to be seen, perhaps when he responds officially to the lawsuit in court. If he decides to represent himself in this matter, then he'll be proving the plaintiffs' point.

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