- The Washington Times - Monday, November 9, 2015

Al Jazeera America said it has suspended its general counsel, David W. Harleston, after it was revealed that he is not licensed to practice law despite his handling of several high-profile cases for the media company.

Mr. Harleston has helped oversee lawsuits by Al Jazeera America against DirecTV and Al Gore, who sold his Current TV network to the company, as well as several other cases, The New York Times reported.

But according to court officials, there are no records that indicate Mr. Harleston is licensed to practice law in New York State, where Al Jazeera America is headquartered, nor has he been admitted in any other jurisdiction, The Times reported.

Al Jazeera America told The Times on Sunday that it had suspended Mr. Harleston and hired the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom to conduct a review.

“My No. 1 priority has been to run Al Jazeera America to the highest professional and business standards,” Al Anstey, the current chief executive of the company, told The Times. “I take very seriously any potential issue that could jeopardize the reputation and integrity of Al Jazeera America.”

According to his bio page on the Al Jazeera America website, Mr. Harleston “is responsible for advancing and protecting the business and legal interests of the U.S. network and its holdings.”

Previously, Mr. Harleston served as executive vice president and general counsel of Current TV, the bio states.

According to The Times, it is unlawful in most states for non-lawyers to give legal advice, perform legal work or present themselves as lawyers. The crime is rarely prosecuted in New York, especially against non-lawyers working in the role of internal counsel at a company, the Times said.

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