"Respondent [Lawyer] Impersonated Others, Falsely Accused a Coworker of Poor Job Performance,

and falsely accused the coworker's husband of workplace sexual harassment."


From In re Shin, decided Thursday by the New York intermediate appellate court:

Respondent Haelee H. Shin was admitted to the practice of law in the State of New York by the First Judicial Department on July 18, 2016, under the name Haelee Helen Shin….

In March 2021, the Attorney Grievance Committee (AGC) filed a Petition of Charges alleging that, in 2018, respondent impersonated others, falsely accused a coworker of poor job performance, and falsely accused the coworker's husband of workplace sexual harassment….

Shin agreed that the following were the facts:

Complainant R.C. and respondent were coworkers from December 2016 until January 2019. Respondent and R.C., who occupied adjacent cubicles, had an acrimonious relationship while working together. On May 11, 2018, respondent impersonated a vendor and sent an email to their employer falsely complaining about R.C.'s unsatisfactory customer service. To do so, respondent created a fictious email account using the vendor's name.

On May 16, 2018, respondent pretended to be an employee at R.C.'s husband's workplace by sending an anonymous letter to the company's Human Resources Department falsely accusing him of workplace sexual harassment. On June 8, 2018, respondent used the previously mentioned sham email address and left a review about R.C. on a legal website, under the guise of the aforementioned vendor, falsely complaining about the same unsatisfactory customer service about which respondent had complained to their employer several weeks prior. Shortly thereafter, R.C., with the help of her supervisors, who by this point were already aware that someone impersonating a vendor was making false accusations against R.C., formally disputed her review with the website.

As such, on June 25, 2018, the website asked respondent to verify whether the content of her review was true, and she did so, still posing as the purportedly aggrieved vendor. In January 2019, respondent left her position and immediately began a non-legal position with another employer. In April 2020, respondent was internally promoted to another non-legal position, and remains in that role to date….

The parties have stipulated to the following aggravation: respondent engaged in this misconduct with the intent of harming R.C. and her family; she engaged in a pattern of misconduct that occurred in four separate instances spanning over six weeks in time; and she fully accepted responsibility for her misconduct but only after the AGC's investigation had commenced. Respondent has not yet apologized to R.C. Although respondent alleged that she has been unable to apologize for her misconduct because R.C. allegedly refused to meet with her, respondent could have apologized in writing and has not done so.

The parties have stipulated to the following mitigation: respondent was a recently admitted attorney at the time of the events at issue; she has no prior disciplinary history; her misconduct did not adversely impact any client matters; and she is no longer engaged in the practice of law. Respondent fully cooperated with the AGC's investigation, and she was dealing with very difficult personal issues at the time she committed the misconduct at issue. Respondent voluntarily participated in the New York City Bar's Lawyer Assistance Program (LAP) because of her mental health issues and has meticulously kept her appointments. The parties have included a September 11, 2020 letter from LAP evidencing her commitment to address her issues and her positive progress.

The punishment: a three-month suspension, as agreed by the parties. "They argue that, while there are no cases directly on point, the requested sanction is supported by comparable circumstances involving forgery and deception." The court agreed.

NEXT: Today in Supreme Court History: August 22, 1998

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  1. Always believe the accuser.

    Hey, lawyer dumbasses, almost all allegations between people who know each other are false and retaliatory. Cost of investigations of such should come from the assets of the investigators. The investigations are bullying and harassment. We are sick of your toxic profession, you lawyer scumbags. The Montgomery County Prosecutor scumbag should pay for all costs of the Cosby prosecution from his personal assets.

    1. I see no qualitative difference in her lawfare and that of Pelosi and Mueller against Trump. The size of the misconduct is a million times bigger, yet, no sanctions for lawfare on behalf of the tech billionaires.

      Your scumbag profession has to be destroyed and restarted from scratch.

  2. Looks to me like she got off lightly. Her worldview and understanding of ethics is totally alien to court requirements and is not likely going away over a mere suspension.

    However we’ll see. Sometimes people develop in adulthood behaviors they should have learned as five-year-olds.

    1. Agreed. This is a person who engaged in blatant and rank dishonesty to hurt someone else. Has no place in the legal profession.

  3. This seems a very, very light punishment for committing multiple moral turpitude felonies.

    1. She should have paid all costs from personal assets or from future personal assets. That means something.

  4. NY State is notorious for absurd penalties when it comes to professional ethics.

    I am a licensed PE. Years ago, I wondered what it took to get your license suspended or revoked.

    The vast majority of suspensions were for being convicted of DUI. The penalty: 1 year suspension waived if you paid a $1,000 fine.

    The only revocation I saw was for someone who was convicted of drug dealing and murder. Not exactly because of the practice of engineering.

    1. I once filed a bar complaint against a prosecutor who, I had cold hard proof, suborned perjury to get an unjust conviction. The response from the bar? We don’t got involved in disputes over litigation tactics.

  5. Lawyers typically only face serious sanctions if they steal client money.

    Look a Avenatti, he’s on trial for stealing millions of client dollars and his defense is he was entitled to it.

  6. First, let’s …

    You know the rest.

  7. Bar penalties are such a joke. Unless you’re caught red-handed stealing client money, nothing happens. We need to police our profession better.

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