Westlake Village attorney faces disbarment over 5 counts of misconduct

By Karen Kidd | Jan 3, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO (Northern California Record) – Longtime Westlake Village attorney Ira Cohen faces disbarment by default following a recently announced California State Bar Court recommendation on misconduct charges.

Cohen is alleged to have violated professional conduct rules, including failures to return client papers and property after his employment was terminated, refund unearned fees and respond promptly to status inquires.

In addition to his disbarment, the state bar also recommended Cohen pay $6,500 and 10 percent interest a year from March 15 , 2017, in restitution and all costs in the matter, the eight-page decision and order of involuntary inactive enrollment issued Dec. 13 by the state bar court said.

The state bar's recommendation is pending final action by the California Supreme Court, an appeal before the state bar's review department or expiration of time when parties can request further review within the state bar court. Cohen's recommended discipline was among the dispositions recently filed by the state bar court's hearing department.  

The state bar court's recommendation included an involuntary inactive enrollment order that rendered Cohen involuntarily enrolled as an inactive member of the State Bar of California. That order was effective three calendar days after service, according to the recommendation.

Cohen failed to participate in person or via counsel and the state bar's decision and order for disbarment was entered by default. In such cases, in which an attorney fails to participate in a State Bar of California disciplinary proceeding despite adequate notice and opportunity, the bar invokes Rule 5.85, which provides the procedure for the state bar to  recommend an attorney's disbarment.

The state bar's entry for default was entered in August.

Cohen was admitted to the bar in California on June 23, 1978, according to his profile at the state bar website. No other investigations or disciplinary matters are pending against Cohen, and the client security fund made no payments resulting from Cohen's alleged misconduct, according to the decision and order.

In a prior discipline in August 2010, Cohen, then 61, received a stayed three-year suspension and was placed on three years' probation with 60 days of actual suspension after he stipulated to 12 acts of misconduct in four matters, according to information on his state bar profile.

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