Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Review Department Turns Down State Bar’s Call for Disbarment of Attorney Taylor Over Illegal Fees
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Beverly Hills attorney Swazi Elkanzi Taylor will be suspended from practice for at least six months for charging illegal fees, if the California Supreme Court adopts the recommendation of the State Bar Court’s Review Department.
The recommendation is contained in a written opinion filed Thursday and made public yesterday. The opinion, by Review Judge Catherine D. Purcell, spurns the request by the State Bar that Taylor be disbarred.
Rather than boosting the discipline the hearing officer, Richard A. Plattel, wanted to impose—a six-month suspension and three years of probation—the Review Department determined that two years of suspension were enough. Also, while Plattel found that fees charged by Taylor were both illegal and unconscionable, Purcell said they were illegal, only.
The lawyer assists debtors in obtaining loan modifications. Civil Code Sec. 2944.7, enacted in 2009, proscribes charging fees until all services in connection with loan modifications have been completed.
Taylor attempted to circumvent that section by charging separately, in advance, for real estate consulting services.
In seven of the eight matters which drew the State Bar’s attention, Taylor obtained his clients through referrals from a website called “LowerMyBiIls.com,” to which he paid $2 per referral.
“Taylor’s conduct is serious and the harm to his clients is significant. He repeatedly violated loan modification statutes designed to protect the consumer. The plain language of these statutes and a State Bar ethics alert provided fair notice to Taylor that he must not collect any up-front fees for loan modification services….He has harmed his clients by collecting illegal fees from them and, in most instances, has failed to provide full refunds.”
Under the recommendation, Taylor would not be reinstated to practice after six months unless and until restitution has been made.
The hearing officer found that Taylor was unremorseful. Purcell commented:
“Our recommendation will permit Taylor time to gain insight into his misconduct, while at the same time protect the public and the courts, and maintain the integrity of the legal profession.”
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company