Massachusetts Lawyer Suspended After Falsely Claiming To Be Medical Doctor

“Dr.” Susan Friery was once heralded as a leading plaintiff’s attorney — a combination of a juris doctor and medical doctor. Touting a medical degree from Columbia University, Friery was given a partnership at Kreindler & Kreindler LLP, which appears not to have actually checked her degree. Her Massachusetts law license has now been suspended for two years. Her medical license has not been suspended because she never had one. She never graduated from medical school.

When she made partner, Kreindler & Kreindler proclaimed:

Dr. Friery is one of only an estimated 2,500 medical doctor/attorneys in the nation, of which less than 100 are representing the rights of victims and their families at plaintiff law firms. Over the last 17 years Dr. Friery has brought her combined legal and medical expertise and skills to bear on hundreds of death and injury cases handled by Kreindler, the nation’s preeminent aviation law firm.

The opinion notes that Friery repeatedly used her claim of a medical license in a variety of professional contexts:

During her tenure at the firm, the respondent made or countenanced false representations as to her credentials, including but not limited to the following particulars:
a) The respondent’s name appeared as “M.D.” or “Dr.” on the firm’s letterhead, business cards, notices of appearance, legal memorandum and other documents filed in numerous courts;
b) On divers times, the respondent was professionally addressed, introduced as, and introduced herself, both orally and in writing, to clients, colleagues, stenographers, firm employees, opposing counsel, medical providers and others as, “Dr. Friery” or as a medical doctor or as a physician;
c) The respondent held herself out to bar associations, bar association committees, and other professional groups as a doctor or physician; and
d) The respondent presented at and attended CLE trial lawyer association seminars and meetings in which she falsely represented that she had graduated from medical school and was a medical doctor.

That claims gave her heightened credibility in her practice and her public work. She was even later selected as Massachusetts’ most beautiful lawyer, which included this description (and a picture that shows that she is as flexible as her résumé):

Susan, a medical consultant and senior associate for Kreindler & Kreindler, handles a variety of mass disaster, personal injury, and medical malpractice litigation. She has worked on hundreds of 9/11 World Trade Center cases, as well as on the settlement for the Pan Am Lockerbie terrorist plan bombing.

Susan loves yoga and volunteers at charities such as Habitat for Humanity.

Friery did take courses in pathology at SUNY Buffalo School of Medicine and worked as a morgue technician, but never graduated from the program. Yet, she claimed to have finished in the top 1 percent of her class at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University. She started work as a paralegal at Kreindler & Kreindler LLP, which paid 75% of her tuition to go to New York Law School. She was then hired as an associate and later a partner. It would be interesting to see if she claimed the medical degree with the law school.

What is fascinating is that it is a crime to practice medicine without a license. However, this is not a form of practicing medicine so there appears no criminal charge. Yet, there could be a claim of fraud in holding oneself out to clients as a doctor — a claim that could be viewed as implied as justification for the higher partner rates. Yet, the Massachusetts panel helped her a great deal legally with the following finding:

There is no indication that the respondent’s misrepresentations had any adverse effect on the quality of the respondent’s work on behalf of the firm and its clients, or that such misrepresentations caused any harm to the firm or its clients. Many of the misrepresentations made or repeated by colleagues or staff as to respondent’s credentials were made without the respondent’s direct participation, although she was generally aware that they were being made. In addition, many of the misrepresentations were made in a context in which they were not material to any specific pending decision or action by a client, adversary or tribunal.

This is truly sad case for everyone involved.

 Here is the order:  bd11-134
Source: ABA Journal

26 thoughts on “Massachusetts Lawyer Suspended After Falsely Claiming To Be Medical Doctor

  1. The firm had a duty to verify her educational credentials BEFORE advertising her as an “MD/JD” and they claim they never knew. Can you imagine if American Airlines said this to them about a pilot’s fake credentials?? They’d be on nightly news! They lied to clients, judges, the press. She gave seminars ON MEDICINE to attorneys and AAJ (former American Trial Lawyers), Anthony Tarricone was former President. Google it. It’s outrageous and talkindog is onto something. How partners are not being sanctioned is bizarre unless it’s because of their political connections in NY (9/11 cases). They said she worked on those cases, as a “Dr.” so I don’t know how the government’s not involved under a federal fraud act.

  2. Notice claim by her firm that she had graduated in the top one percent of her class:

    “She received her medical degree from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University in 1988 where she graduated in the top one percent of her class. She has special training in forensic pathology and has worked at Children’s Hospital in Buffalo, New York, Babies Hospital at Columbia Presbyterian in New York City, and the New York City’s Medical Examiner’s Office. She has served as an advisor and worked for the American Red Cross, the National Kidney Foundation and the National Disaster Medical Response Teams. She also served as an editor for numerous medical journals, including the Pediatric Pathology and the Journal of Pediatrics.”


  3. It would be a crime if she held herself out as a lawyer, and maybe even a federal crime if, when she was a paralegal, she sent correspondence across state lines representing herself as a lawyer. Especially if she defrauded the court or the government with such representations. Just like it would be a crime if she practiced medicine without a license or medical education.

  4. But decision said that she was licensed as a lawyer and did not practice as a doctor. Seems like she’s lied to everyone since the 80’s. I guess law firms will now have to check the non-legal degrees and licensing claimed by employees in addition to making sure they are lawyers and properly licensed by the State. It’s a sad and bizarre situation.

  5. She practiced as a dr by rendering medical opinions on cases. Lied before courts on federal cases. So inept it was obvious and she never reported herself-she was reported, and reported to partners who did nothing. State DA did nothing, maybe because firm made hefty donations to her election campaign. Friery, now running a “dogsnpaws” business again offering medical care for people, is determined to act as a medical doctor and will until she hurts someone. She defrauded courts on federal cases by her misrepresentation. That’s a criminal charge. Guess it’s all in who you know. If Joe Biden rents office space from your firm you can get away with anything.

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