The Florida Bar is investigating the head of St. Petersburg-based Gulfcoast Legal Services Inc. after reports surfaced alleging that she practiced law without a license.
Kathleen Mullin, who is not a licensed attorney in Florida, has since January been executive director of the nonprofit, which has branches throughout the Tampa Bay area.
This spring, Mullin became embroiled in controversy after firing a long-time and well-regarded attorney in the organization's Sarasota office.
Months earlier, the same attorney had filed an age discrimination suit against Mullin, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
The newspaper reported in June that emails showed Mullin gave orders about cases handled by the organization. Since the Bar restricts the level of involvement someone in Mullin's position can have if he or she is not a lawyer, that practice would be a problem.
Officials from Gulfcoast said local services to residents will not be affected.
Mullin said she "adamantly denies" the allegations that she practiced law without a license.
"We have fully cooperated with the Florida Bar," she told the Tampa Bay Times on Tuesday. "These accusations are unfounded. We are fully confident that the allegations will be unsubstantiated.
"We from time to time make personnel decisions, and from time to time those personnel decisions don't go smoothly. We're no different than any other employer in Florida," she said.
Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Kameel Stanley can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8643.