037: Lawyer in Training

Stella Case No. 037, Originally Published: 19 February 2003

As part of his course work at Memphis (Mich.) High School, Brian Delekta, 18, worked in his mother’s law office as a paralegal. The “work experience” class was even graded. His mother, attorney Diane Delekta, said the school provided a “checklist” of things it required, and Brian accomplished those requirements.

Yes, the firm still exists.

He performed the same tasks he would do if he were a paralegal in a law office, she said. “He prepared documents, met with clients.” As his supervisor, it was up to her to give him a grade in the class. She gave him an A+.

Since the highest grade the school ever records is an A, that’s what it put on his report card. When Brian protested, the Memphis School Board considered changing its grading system so it could record A+ grades. But the board voted against making such a change.

That, Brian figures, endangered his chances of being named class valedictorian, even though all the other students in his class followed the same rules he had to, so, with his mother’s help, he filed a lawsuit against the St. Clair County Intermediate School District, all seven members of the school board, the school superintendent, and the high school’s principal, demanding that the court order the school to increase his grade to an A+. In addition, it seeks a restraining order on class rankings until the school takes into account his higher grade. Oh, and $25,000 in cash too, please.

“I heard ahead of time [that the threat of a lawsuit] was out there, but to worry about that would be wrong,” said school board President Harold Burns. “I felt I did what was right for the citizens of Memphis” in voting against changing the grade system. The possibility of a restraining order against the school releasing grade rankings poses a real problem for others, he says: students who need to know their class rank won’t be able to apply for college scholarships until the court vacates the restraining order.

Clearly, Brian learned a lot while working at the law office, such as invoking hardball ploys like inconveniencing innocent third parties as a leveraging tactic. But St. Clair County Judge Daniel Kelly denied the motion for a restraining order, leaving the school free to issue class rankings. It named another student valedictorian, and Brian was named second in his class. The other aspects of the suit are apparently still pending.

Sources

  • “Student Files Lawsuit over School Grade: Memphis Pupil Believes He Deserves A+,” Port Huron Times Herald, 6 February 2003
  • “Memphis Releases Student Rankings,” Port Huron Times Herald, 13 February 2003

Case Status

I couldn’t find anything about what happened with the remainder of the lawsuit against the school, but I do know what happened with Brian Delekta: sure enough, he went to law school, graduating Magna Cum Laude from Michigan State University’s College of Law in 2009. And where does he practice law? In the same firm with his mom.

Update Source: The Law Offices of Delekta & Delekta.

My 2020 Thoughts on the Case

I’ll just say I’m not surprised whatever to see he really was a “lawyer in training,” and is now working as one in his mother’s firm.

Letters

Regarding the racism lawsuit against Southwest Airlines,

Mary Jane in New York: “I’m one of those 50-ish people who remembers the original rhyme but made a point of using the ‘tiger’ variation when raising my son. He didn’t realize there even was an unacceptable version — until now. Thanks to Ms Sawyer and Ms Fuller, those hurtful words have been introduced to a new generation.”

Tyson in Utah: “It seems to be more and more that it isn’t so much that society cannot see past the color of certain people’s skin, but more that certain people can’t see past the color of their own skin. I have a friend that has what some would consider a handicap: Attention Deficit Disorder, or ADD. He acknowledges that this makes him different from other people, but he does his best to try and keep it from separating himself from others. Legally, he could demand special treatment and privileges at work because of this ‘difference’, but he doesn’t. I also know of situations where he has been ‘discriminated against’ because of this difference, but he has never sought legal action. He explains it by saying that every one of us has some sort of ‘difference’ that could cause us to be discriminated against or even traumatized. These woman may truly feel like they were ‘discriminated against’, but I would suggest that they don’t feel this way because of what the stewardess said or did to them, but because of how they perceive and treat themselves.”

To wrap up the series on attorney ethics, an economist in Virginia has an answer to the lawyer who asked in this space, “How many professions make their members contribute to a fund to pay for the bad deeds of members of the profession?”

Robert in Virginia: “Just about every profession! These ‘funds’ are run by insurance companies, and they’re called ‘liability insurance.’ You might think that professional liability insurance is based on an individual’s behavior, the way car insurance rates are based on one’s driving record. But that’s not always the case. For example, a particular doctor’s medical malpractice insurance premiums are based on only two facts: his/her medical specialty and zip code! A history of claims does not generally lead to an increase in premiums, nor does a lifetime of claim-free practice result in a decrease. This amounts to doctors paying into a fund to pay malpractice claims, just like the system for lawyers that the Washington attorney described. The same is true for other licensed professions: plumbers, electricians, building contractors, and so on — and even non-licensed professions such as retailers.”

Indeed I heard from a number of readers from many different professions who say they pay in to such funds and insurance policies, very often as a requirement of being a member of professional societies.

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5 Comments on “037: Lawyer in Training

  1. You know he has great potential. Why with that kind of thinking he could be President of the USA in a few years (NOT as long as people like me live but alas some folks have short memories).

    Reply
  2. So he started his life as a lawyer by filing a frivolous lawsuit. Such great things in store for him, and the firm he works for. {sarcasm font}

    Reply
  3. I once had a teaching assistant who gave a grade of A++ for 100 on a quiz. If the A+ requirement should be required, will there be any limit on the number of pluses?

    Reply
  4. All four of the grandchildren I now have in college attended high schools (in Michigan & North Carolina) where they could earn up to a 5.0 with an A as 4.0. The 5 could only be earned in an AP (advanced placement) class.

    Reply

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