On Aug. 28, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit stripped Neal Sher of his D.C. law license. The move comes roughly one year after Sher conceded he had made “unauthorized reimbursements” of travel expenses from the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims, where he served as its chief of staff. He resigned from that position in June 2002.
Sher says he has made restitution to the commission, but remains defiant about the disbarment, saying he feels unfairly targeted by the D.C. Bar.
“To me, and to others I’ve talked with, this is overkill,” Sher says.
To many who know him, Sher’s free fall comes as a shock.
“I have known Neal for 25 years,” says Stuart Eizenstat, a partner at D.C.’s Covington & Burling who served as special representative for President Bill Clinton on Holocaust-era issues. “I can only say it’s a real tragedy, and I think it is an exception to the decades of [Sher’s] service to the country and to the Jewish community.”
Sher consented to disbarment in the District before any ethical charges had been filed, thereby leaving no public record of why his law license was revoked. A court order in a Virginia state court where Sher’s divorce is pending prevents any of the lawyers, parties or witnesses from “disclosing and/or disseminating” any information concerning Sher’s resignation from the Holocaust commission.
In a Sept. 3 statement to Legal Times, former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, who chairs the Holocaust commission, wrote that Sher resigned from the commission after admitting to “unauthorized reimbursements of [commission] travel expenses.” According to Eagleburger, Sher informed the commission of what he had done last summer, and an internal probe was launched.
Sher also refuses to talk about his divorce, which is scheduled to be finalized later this month.
He says he has had no consistent employment since leaving the commission more than a year ago.
“There’s a lot of things that I’ve been trying to do, but I’ve made no money at all,” Sher says. “I’ve been unemployed. I’m getting no paychecks — nothing.”