Legal Question in Legal Ethics in California

My attorney (who I since fired) has signed my name to documents filed with the court without my knowledge/permission. I had given her permission to sign my name once on a document we were emailing back and forth about. But since I've found her signing my name on at least two other filed documents. The court case is still pending.

Does an attorney need a signed POA to sign their clients name? What's attorney protocol in these situations? Thanks in advance.

Asked on 10/17/14, 1:14 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Timothy McCormick Libris Solutions - Dispute Resolution Services

The simple answer is that an attorney should never sign a client's name to a document. Even if the attorney at law is also an attorney in fact under a POA, documents should be signed as such, e.g., "Jane Lawyer, Attorney in Fact under power of attorney for Steven Client." Depending on the formality of the document, however, if the attorney is authorized to sign for the client it may be a no-harm, no-foul situation. If the document is a court filing, however, such as a declaration, it would not even be legal for the attorney to sign under a POA. If the client's signature on a document is required, the client and only the client can sign. Likewise, if a client's signature is placed without authorization on ANY document, that is forgery, plain and simple, just as if the attorney were not an attorney at all.

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Answered on 10/17/14, 1:31 pm

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