Lawyer Tom Girardi drew over 200 ethics complaints, California bar says

(Reuters) – Plaintiffs’ attorney Tom Girardi was the subject of 205 attorney ethics complaints between 1982 and when he was disbarred in June, more than half accusing him of mishandling client funds, California attorney regulators revealed Thursday.

The State Bar of California listed every complaint it said it received against Girardi, once a prominent figure in the California and US plaintiffs bar, including a basic description of the allegations against him and how each complaint was resolved.

“Girardi caused irreparable harm to hundreds of his clients, and the state bar could have done more to protect the public. We can never allow something like this to happen again,” said Ruben Duran, chair of the bar’s state board of trustees. in the letter.

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Girardi’s legal career unraveled in December 2020 when his counsel in the 2018 Lion Air crash, Chicago plaintiff firm Edelson, accused him of stealing more than $2 million in client settlement funds.

Duran said the state bar received 69 complaints against Girardi on or after Dec. 18, 2020, the same day creditors filed a petition to force him and his now-defunct law firm, Girardi Keese, into bankruptcy.

The state bar cited one of the complaints in its disbarment recommendation to the California Supreme Court, which revoked Girardi’s license in June. Sixty-four other complaints were still pending at the time and were automatically closed, Duran said.

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“After a disbarment, there is no further disciplinary action the state bar can take,” Duran said. Girardi has also been called a criminal prosecutor by the Chicago federal judge overseeing the Lion Air case.

Girardi has not responded to the allegations and has not participated in disciplinary proceedings with the state bar. Her legal and personal affairs are managed by her brother and conservator, Robert. Robert Girardi did not respond to a request for comment.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Girardi’s chummy relationship with state bar officials allowed him to maintain a clear disciplinary record despite allegations of misconduct. Duran in his letter said Girardi “resolved a serious failure in the state bar’s attorney disciplinary system.”

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The state bar said it continues to investigate the handling of past complaints against Girardi. The state bar hired Halpern May Ybarra Gelberg, a Los Angeles-based litigation firm, in January to conduct the investigation.

Read more:

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The California state bar pulled Tom Girardi’s law license, citing guardianship status

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

David Thomas

Thomson Reuters

David Thomas reports on the business of law, including law firm strategy, hiring, mergers and litigation. He is based out of Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @DaveThomas5150.

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