A legal secretary who was fired after she accused well-known attorney Robert Shapiro of overbilling clients can sue his law firm for wrongful termination, a state appeals court has ruled. 2

A legal secretary who was fired after she accused well-known attorney Robert Shapiro of overbilling clients can sue his law firm for wrongful termination, a state appeals court has ruled.

In unanimous decision, a panel of the 2nd Appellate District held that Pauletta James can proceed with a claim she was dismissed from the firm of Christensen, Miller, Fink, Jacobs, Glaser, Weil & Shapiro because she reported Shapiro’s alleged misdeeds.

The ruling, dated June 28, overturned a lower court decision that James had not proved her firing violated rules protecting whistle-blowers.

“If an employee at a law firm reports that a partner is defrauding clients out of money by issuing inflated legal bills, then that report inures to the benefit of the public as well as to the law firm,” the court said.

The court affirmed the lower court’s decision throwing out the claims against Shapiro himself, holding that the law firm, not Shapiro, was her employer.

Shapiro is known as part of the defense team that won an acquittal in the murder trial of O.J. Simpson. He has also represented Christian Brando and Robert Evans, according to his firm’s Web site

The appellate ruling is another potential setback for Shapiro’s firm, whose first name partner, Terry Christensen, has been indicted by a federal grand jury in connection with the ongoing wiretap and racketeering case against private eye Anthony Pellicano. Christensen has pleaded not guilty.

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