Legal Ethics

Lawyer Larry Klayman Should Get License Suspended, Panel Says

July 25, 2019, 9:13 PM

Conservative lawyer and activist Larry Klayman violated numerous professional conduct rules in his representation of an Iranian-born journalist and should be suspended from the practice of law for 33 months, a Washington hearing committee said.

Klayman should be required to prove his fitness to practice as a condition of reinstatement, the Board on Professional Responsibility’s ad hoc hearing committee recommended July 24.

Klayman allegedly represented Elham Sataki, a plaintiff in a sexual-harrassment suit, for a 40% contingency fee, but didn’t commit the fee to writing. Klayman allegedly became infatuated with Sataki and repeatedly sought a romantic relationship with her. When she declined, he told her the fee would be 50%, and verbally abused her, according to the 185-page report.

He also encouraged her to move from the East Coast to Los Angeles despite the financial impracticality of the move, the report said. And he made litigation and publicity decisions without her consent and against her interests, the report said.

The committee recommended a suspension of 12 to 18 months for Klayman’s conflict-of-interest violations alone.

The “troubling aspects” of Klayman’s character appear unchanged, the committee said. Its concern about his fitness arose from “the extreme nature of several of his Rules violations,” according to the report.

His “abusive litigation tactics” reflect “a long-standing and continuing set of personal animuses, biases, bitterness, and vindictiveness that he has not candidly recognized, acknowledged or remedied,” the committee said, finding “an indisputable need for a fitness requirement.”

Klayman recently lost two suits that he brought in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia alleging disciplinary prosecutors and the D.C. Bar were conspiring to disbar him. He argued prosecutors were targeting him for his political beliefs, activism, and gender.

The D.C. Court of Appeals, Washington’s high court, will make the final decision on Klayman’s discipline.

Disciplinary counsel sought Klayman’s disbarment.

Frederick J. Sujat represented Klayman.

The case is In re Klayman, D.C. Ct. App., Board Docket No. 17-BD-063, Board on Professional Responsibility recommendation 7/24/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Martina Barash in Washington at mbarash@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com; Nicholas Datlowe at ndatlowe@bloomberglaw.com

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