Posted in Disbarred Attorneys, King County, Suspension

Richard Alan Basarab

Richard Alan Basarab
License Number: 11444
License Type: Lawyer
Eligible To Practice: No
License Status: Disbarred
WSBA Admit Date: 5/11/1981
Contact Information
Public/Mailing Address: 1593 Gillam Way
Fairbanks, AK 99701-6045
Phone: (907) 750-0579
Practice Information Identified by Legal Professional
Firm or Employer:
Office Type and Size: Not Specified
Practice Areas: None Specified
Languages Other Than English: None Specified
Professional Liability Insurance
Private Practice:
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Last Updated:
Member of these committees/boards/panels:
Disciplinary History
Action Effective Date
Disbarment 01/07/1999

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Discipline Notice – Richard Basarab
License Number: 11444
Member Name: Richard Basarab
Discipline Detail
Action: Disbarment
Effective Date: 1/7/1999
RPC: 1.3 – Diligence
1.4 – Communication
5.5 – Unauthorized Practice of Law
8.4 (b) – Criminal Act
8.4 (l) – Violate ELCs
8.4 (n) – Conduct Demonstrating Unfitness to Practice Law

Discipline Notice:
Description: Seattle lawyer Richard A. Basarab (WSBA No. 11444, admitted May 11, 1981) has been disbarred by order of the Supreme Court, effective January 7, 1999. The discipline is based upon his practicing law, and collecting fees from clients to practice law, while his license was suspended; failing to diligently represent his clients; and contacting a party represented by counsel.

On May 24, 1991, Mr. Basarab’s license to practice law was suspended for non-payment of dues. His license remained suspended until he was disbarred. On May 15, 1997, Mr. Basarab pled guilty, pursuant to an Alford plea, to one count of first-degree theft, one count of second-degree theft, and two counts of unauthorized practice of law.
Matter 1. On October 4, 1993, Mr. Basarab agreed to represent a client in a wrongful discharge suit. Mr. Basarab signed the summons, but did not put his WSBA number on the complaint. He failed to conduct discovery and did not attempt to answer the opposing party’s interrogatories, until after a motion to compel was filed. Mr. Basarab submitted the interrogatories unsigned and without the three binders of supporting documentation his client had provided. On May 1, 1995, the client learned that Mr. Basarab’s license was suspended, terminated his services and requested her file. The client discovered a motion to compel scheduled for the day before she received her file. Mr. Basarab had not notified the client of this motion. The Court entered a $1,000 judgment for terms against the client for failure to comply or appear at the motion. Mr. Basarab stated that he intended to find substitute counsel for his client, if litigation was necessary. However, the client terminated his services prior to his attempts to find other counsel.

Matter 2. In April 1995, Mr. Basarab agreed to draft an employment agreement for a parking lot construction estimator. Although Mr. Basarab told the client he could draft employment agreements, the contract draft contained mistakes that were not in the client’s best interests. During this same meeting, the client told Mr. Basarab that he needed a civil suit filed because his former employer did not pay his medical insurance premiums. Mr. Basarab filed the lawsuit in January 1996, and promised to inform the client’s creditors that they would be paid out of the settlement proceeds. Mr. Basarab altered a money order he received from another client to pay the $110 filing fee for the client’s complaint. Mr. Basarab also agreed to collect on a bounced commission check and file suit against another previous employer who failed to pay commissions. Mr. Basarab did not file the suit or collect the check. Finally, Mr. Basarab agreed to draft the contract for the sale of the client’s company. Mr. Basarab completed the sale.

Matter 3. Between October 1992 and October 1993, a client paid Mr. Basarab $750 to file a bankruptcy petition. Mr. Basarab did not file the bankruptcy petition. On October 5, 1995, the Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection paid the client. Mr. Basarab has not reimbursed the fund. Mr. Basarab stated that he agreed only to assist the client in preparing documents, not to appear as her lawyer.

Matter 4. In June 1994, Mr. Basarab agreed to review a settlement proposal in a wrongful termination claim. Mr. Basarab told the client that he was experienced in labor law. Mr. Basarab and the client agreed that the settlement was not acceptable. Subsequently, the Human Rights Commission dismissed the client’s complaint. Mr. Basarab agreed to file a civil lawsuit for the client. On January 16, 1996, the client sent Mr. Basarab a money order for $110 for the filing fee. Mr. Basarab altered the money order and used it to pay for another client’s filing fee. Mr. Basarab never filed the lawsuit or refunded the client’s money.

Matter 5. In June 1995, Mr. Basarab agreed to represent the alleged father in a paternity action. The client gave Mr. Basarab the papers he received from the Office of Support Enforcement, and Mr. Basarab agreed to take care of the matters. Mr. Basarab did not respond to the Office of Support Enforcement. In October 1995, the King County Prosecuting Attorney filed a Motion for Default Judgment against the client, citing failure to appear. Mr. Basarab told his client that the Court was wrong, because he had filed a response the day the default order was entered. The client took no further action and DSHS began garnishing his paycheck.

Matter 6. In July 1995, Mr. Basarab agreed to represent the tenant in an unlawful detainer action.
Mr. Basarab drafted a Motion for an Order of Stay for the client to sign pro se. The client believed that he had retained Mr. Basarab as his lawyer. Mr. Basarab and his client went to court together and obtained a one-day stay. During the court appearance, Mr. Basarab told the court that he was assisting, not representing, the client. Later, the Snohomish County Sheriff removed the rented mobile home, because the medically disabled client was not able to pay the back rent.

Matter 7. Mr. Basarab represented a client in an American Arbitration Association (AAA) arbitration. Mr. Basarab told the parties and the arbitrator that he was not licensed to practice, and the arbitrator allowed him to represent the client. During the arbitration proceeding, Mr. Basarab presented exhibits, examined and cross-examined witnesses, and submitted memoranda on behalf of his client. The arbitrator awarded Mr. Basarab $3,625 as “representative fees,” pursuant to an attorney’s-fees clause in the disputed contract. Following the arbitration, Mr. Basarab contacted the opposing party directly, instead of through counsel, to attempt to collect the fees. The opposing party challenged the award of fees, and the King County Superior Court denied Mr. Basarab’s fees. The Court concluded that the contract allowed attorney’s fees, and Mr. Basarab could not have been acting as an attorney, because his license was suspended.

Matter 8. In late 1995, Mr. Basarab accepted $750 and agreed to file a lawsuit for a client. In mid-1997, the client learned that Mr. Basarab’s license was suspended and that he had not filed the lawsuit.

Matter 9. On May 6, 1998, Mr. Basa-rab appeared with a client in Poulsbo Municipal Court. Mr. Basarab requested, and the Court granted, a continuance of the pre-trial conference scheduled to be heard that day. The Judge asked Mr. Basarab if he intended to file a notice of appearance in the case. Mr. Basarab stated that he would file a notice of appearance and hoped to reach an agreement after speaking to the prosecutor.

Mr. Basarab’s conduct violated RPCs 8.4, prohibiting a lawyer from committing a crime that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer; RCW 2.48.180, making it a crime to engage in the unauthorized practice of law; RPC 5.5(a), prohibiting the practice of law where doing so violates the regulation of the legal profession; RLD 1.1(l), prohibiting a lawyer from engaging in the practice of law while suspended; RLD 1.1(p), prohibiting conduct demonstrating unfitness to practice law; RLD 8.2, prohibiting a disbarred or suspended attorney from accepting a retainer, giving legal advice, or acting as a lawyer for another in a legal matter; RPC 1.3, requiring a lawyer to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client; and RPC 1.4(a), requiring a lawyer to keep clients informed as to the status of their matters.

Sachia Stonefeld represented the Bar Association. Kevin Keefe represented Mr. Basarab. Geoffrey Revelle acted as the hearing officer.

In some cases, discipline search results will not reveal all disciplinary action relating to a Washington licensed legal professional, and may not display links to the official decision documents.