STATE BAR PURSUES LICENSE CANCELLATION
San Francisco, Dec. 5, 2012 – The State Bar of California has recommended cancellation of the license of a newly admitted attorney who received Bar Exam testing accommodations based on misrepresentations.
Leah E. Harmuth, 28, of New York City, [bar # 267700] entered into an agreement with the State Bar Office of Chief Trial Counsel for cancellation of her license. On Nov. 30, the State Bar Court issued an order recommending cancellation.
License cancellations are invoked when information comes to light after admission to practice law that may have barred the admission. A cancellation is different than a disbarment, which results from misconduct occurring after admission to the State Bar. Harmuth’s cancellation is based on misconduct that occurred both before and after admission.
In 2009, Harmuth was given 50 percent more time and a semi-private room to take the California Bar Exam based on an alleged disability. In her application, Harmuth misrepresented the type of testing accommodations she received at the University of Pennsylvania. Had the State Bar known the true circumstances, it would have denied Harmuth’s request for testing accommodations.
The State Bar learned of the misrepresentations in September 2011 from the New York State Board of Law Examiners, which had discovered the misrepresentations during her application process there. The New York bar disqualified Harmuth from taking the New York State Bar Exam or applying for admission to the New York bar for two years. The misrepresentations to both states’ licensing bodies amounted to “acts involving moral turpitude and dishonesty in willful violation of Business and Professions Code, section 6106,” State Bar Court Judge Lucy Armendariz found.
The agreement does not identify Harmuth’s alleged disability and admissions records are generally confidential. The cancellation won’t go into effect until approved by the California Supreme Court. However, Harmuth is now ineligible to practice law.
Founded in 1927 by the state legislature, the State Bar of California is an administrative arm of the California Supreme Court, serving the public and seeking to improve the justice system for more than 80 years. All lawyers practicing law in California must be members of the State Bar. By December 2012, membership reached more than 238,500.