When photos of Ghislaine Maxwell reading a book and having lunch at an In-N-Out in the Valley were published by the New York Post in August, they immediately spread across the internet, as Maxwell hadn’t been seen in public since the death of her former boss and boyfriend, convicted rapist Jeffrey Epstein. The photos were soon revealed to be hoax, and attention shifted to Maxwell’s lawyer, Leah Saffian, who the Daily Mail accused of staging the images. But who is Saffian?
Public information on the Encino-based attorney is scant, to say the least. And while Saffian was gracious enough to return our call, her answers offered only a shadowy glimpse into her world.
Right off, she let us know, in a pleasant tone, that, “I don’t give interviews.”
We asked who some of her clients are. “I don’t discuss my clients,” she said.
We wondered how a successful lawyer managed to stay so far below the radar.
“Because I try to be sensible,” she explained. “So much of what’s out there is unhelpful.”
It was mostly unhelpful for us, too.
When the Daily Mail examined the Maxwell photo, they declared the dog in the picture to be Saffian’s own pup, Dexter, who is prominently featured on Saffian’s Facebook page, but they also noted that the word “Meadowgate” was tagged in the image’s metadata.
Saffian is the president of Meadowgate Media Investments, Inc., but that entity is also a mystery. Public records show only that it imported two gaming chairs from China sometime between 2006 and 2019.
Yet, for someone who’s internet presence has been a mere blip until recently, Saffian is an accomplished lawyer. Born in 1958, she attended Studio City’s tony Harvard-Westlake School, got her BA from Amherst, her law degree from Pepperdine, and her LLM from King’s College, London.
According to a brochure from a 2017 legal conference in London, after getting her license to practice in California in 1985, she was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 1991, and went to work prosecuting and defending fraud cases as a barrister for Peters & Peters Solicitors.
“She presently practices in California,” the brochure notes, “dividing her time between San Diego and Los Angeles representing dual nationals in the US; US companies establishing foreign trade and offices; and advising/appearing as an expert in US/UK legal issues.”
In 1996, Saffian successfully defended Ghislaine Maxwell’s brother, Kevin, on fraud charges in the UK.
Saffian’s aversion to the press is nothing new. In 1999, she argued before the California Supreme Court on behalf on an L.A. County judge who had sought to ban media from the palimony trial of Clint Eastwood and Sandra Locke, and cited British common law.
As the Los Angeles Times reported, one judge warned, “the former barrister she was carrying a ‘heavy burden’ by asking the California Supreme Court to ‘all of a sudden find enlightenment’ and disregard ‘what is now United States common law, if you will.’”
Decades earlier, she was in that publication for another reason. In 1965, the Times did a piece titled “Summer Is Carefree Time for 6-Year-Old Girl” that focused on the whimsical exploits of Leah, the daughter of Dr. Robert and Marie Saffian of Encino.
“Summer, as seen through the brown eyes of a pretty 6-year-old, is a panorama of carefree happiness,” it began. She took a trip to Washington D.C. to lay flowers on President Kennedy’s grave, went swimming in her new pool with her dog, Bobo, and ate a lot of spaghetti. Asked what her favorite part of the summer was, Leah said, “The end—because then you get to go back to school.”
RELATED: Jeffrey Epstein Reportedly Ran with the Rich and Famous Even After His Jail Sentence
Stay on top of the latest in L.A. food and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today.