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Joseph Leib Shalant - #40303

Current Status:  Disbarred

This member is prohibited from practicing law in California by order of the California Supreme Court.

See below for more details.

Profile Information

The following information is from the official records of The State Bar of California.

Bar Number: 40303    
Address: 14924 Camarosa Dr
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
Phone Number: Not Available
Fax Number: Not Available
e-mail: Not Available 
County: Los Angeles
Undergraduate School: Univ of Southern Calif; Los Angeles CA
District: District 2    
Sections: None Law School: UCLA SOL; Los Angeles CA

Status History

Effective Date Status Change
Present Disbarred
1/13/2006 Disbarred  
5/21/2005 Not Eligible To Practice Law in CA  
6/6/1967 Admitted to The State Bar of California

Explanation of member status

Actions Affecting Eligibility to Practice Law in California

Effective DateDescriptionCase NumberResulting Status

Disciplinary and Related Actions

Overview of the attorney discipline system.

1/13/2006 Disbarment 01- O-04627 Disbarred 
5/21/2005 Ordered inactive 01-O-04627 Not Eligible To Practice Law in CA 
9/30/1994 Discipline, probation; no actual susp. 90-O-12685  
2/22/1983 Public reproval 80-0-00233  

Administrative Actions

This member has no public record of administrative actions.

Copies of official attorney discipline records are available upon request.

Explanation of common actions

State Bar Court Cases

NOTE: The State Bar Court began posting public discipline documents online in 2005. The format and pagination of documents posted on this site may vary from the originals in the case file as a result of their translation from the original format into Word and PDF. Copies of additional related documents in a case are available upon request. Only Opinions designated for publication in the State Bar Court Reporter may be cited or relied on as precedent in State Bar Court proceedings. For further information about a case that is displayed here, please refer to the State Bar Court's online docket, which can be found at: http://apps.statebarcourt.ca.gov/dockets/dockets.aspx

DISCLAIMER: Any posted Notice of Disciplinary Charges, Conviction Transmittal or other initiating document, contains only allegations of professional misconduct. The attorney is presumed to be innocent of any misconduct warranting discipline until the charges have been proven.

Effective Date Case Number Description
1/13/2006 01-O-04627 Opinion [PDF]
Pending 12-R-15449 Opinion [PDF] [WORD]

California Bar Journal Discipline Summaries

Summaries from the California Bar Journal are based on discipline orders but are not the official records. Not all discipline actions have associated CBJ summaries. Copies of official attorney discipline records are available upon request.

January 13, 2006

JOSEPH LEIB SHALANT [#40303], 66, of Pacific Palisades was disbarred Jan. 13, 2006, and was ordered to comply with rule 955 of the California Rules of Court.

The State Bar Court’s review department found that Shalant committed an act of moral turpitude and charged and collected an illegal fee. It rejected a hearing judge’s recommendation that Shalant be suspended and placed on probation and instead recommended his disbarment, citing his “extended history of inattention to his fiduciary responsibilities to his clients” and a record of four previous disciplines.

Shalant agreed to research the viability of a medical malpractice claim for $5,000 and told the client that if the case were meritorious, he would handle it on a contingency basis. Without consulting the client, he then filed a $10 million lawsuit against the client’s two doctors. Shalant testified at trial he filed the suit to protect the case against the statute of limitations.

Several months later, Shalant asked the client if he suffered from the condition claimed as the basis of the lawsuit; the client spent a month researching medical treatises in an effort to verify his claims. Shortly before a scheduled deposition, Shalant told the client he thought he would have difficulty proving his case and to consider dropping it. He also told the client that their original agreement called only for an investigation of the case and that they needed to discuss Shalant’s compensation. The client asked that the deposition be postponed because of the compensation question and because Shalant had not spoken with his doctor.

The deposition went forward, and Shalant insisted that the client pay an additional $25,000 non-refundable fee and $10,000 in costs.

In subsequent weeks, Shalant and the client bickered over a fee agreement and without signing any documents, the client eventually sent Shalant $25,000 that he deposited in his general account. Several weeks later, the client and Shalant signed an agreement that called for payment of a contingent fee of no more than 40 percent of the gross recovery plus the $25,000.

Months later, the client fired Shalant after the lawyer shouted at him several times during a phone conversation. His new lawyer demanded the return of the $25,000, saying the retainer agreement violated MICRA limits. Shalant refused, and to date has not returned any money to the client. When the case settled for $500,000, he demanded additional fees and costs. The client refused Shalant’s demand that the fee dispute go to arbitration.

The review department found that by charging both a contingency and a non-refundable fee, Shalant charged an illegal fee. It also found that he committed an act of moral turpitude by insisting on modifying the oral contingent fee agreement 10 months after he filed suit and three days before a scheduled deposition, threatening to withdraw if the client did not pay the higher amount. The manner in which Shalant changed the fee “was abusive of his client” and coercive, the court found.

Shalant has been disciplined four previous times, beginning in 1976, in at least nine cases involving 13 clients. The court noted he “has been involved with the State Bar’s disciplinary process for 28 of his 38 years of practice.” Past misconduct included failing to perform legal services competently, communicating with a represented party in a lawsuit, settling personal injury cases after the client was deceased and settling cases without obtaining required court approval.

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