Ex-associate at big U.S. law firm hit with 3-year bar suspension

REUTERS/Tingshu Wang
  • Former Fragomen associate in Michigan agreed to penalty
  • Complaint alleged misrepresentations to clients on immigration matters

(Reuters) - A former associate at the global immigration law firm Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy has been suspended for three years for professional misconduct that included failing to adequately represent corporate clients, the Michigan state attorney discipline board said on Tuesday.

The lawyer, Christa Rosella Minnick, a member of the Michigan bar since 2009, agreed to the ethics punishment in a consent order, according to the reprimand notice.

Michigan's attorney grievance commission said in its November 2021 complaint that Minnick's misconduct was tied to misrepresentations about applications and petitions for Fragomen clients seeking immigration benefits at the U.S. Labor Department and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Fragomen focuses exclusively on immigration services for individuals and companies, employing more than 4,300 professionals and staff in 55 offices.

Minnick and her lawyer, Kenneth Mogill of Mogill Posner & Cohen, did not immediately comment on Wednesday. A Fragomen representative did not immediately return requests for comment.

Michael Goetz, head of the Michigan attorney grievance office, told Reuters that the claims against Minnick were "serious" and that they could have led to disbarment. Officials weighed mitigating factors that included remorse, reputation and absence of prior discipline.

The ethics complaint said Minnick, representing a non-citizen employee of the Michigan-based medical technology company Stryker Corp, failed to file certain U.S. labor documents even though she claimed she had done so.

Bar authorities said in another case that Minnick's misconduct caused a Stryker employee "to take a demotion to a lower-paying position within his company and move with his wife and daughter (a U.S. Citizen, born in the United States during this time) back to Germany, his home country."

Minnick was a paralegal at Fragomen in 2004 while she was attending Wayne State University Law School in Detroit. A Fragomen report in 2015 highlighted Minnick and other lawyers who'd spent more than 50 hours on pro bono matters the previous year.

Consent orders in Michigan attorney ethics cases amounted to a little more than half of all final discipline orders in 2020, according to the board's most recent annual report.

The case is Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission v. Christa Rosella Minnick, Michigan Attorney Discipline Board, No. 21-78-GA.

For the commission: Candis Najor

For Minnick: Kenneth Mogill

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