Elizabeth Warren and her supporters have mounted an argument that what she did at her office in Cambridge for private litigants was not the practice of law.
Warren herself, when confronted by a reporter after it was revealed she had no Massachusetts law license, claimed she was not practicing law. Her campaign later clarified that she was not practicing law “in Massachusetts” when she practiced law at her Cambridge office. Warren denies ever appearing in a Court located in Massachusetts.
That defense is becoming more and more comical as more facts come out showing that as far back as 1995 Warren used her Cambridge office to render legal services for which she was paid at least hundreds of thousands of dollars. Warren still refused to disclose the full extent of her legal practice, pretending that all she did was write a few briefs.
Yet Warren’s legal practice from her Cambridge office clearly went beyond merely appearing as “Of counsel” or Counsel on Briefs.
New documents uncovered from the 2001 bankruptcy of GAF reveal that Warren was hired as a Special Legal Consultant to the Asbestos Claimant’s Committee. It’s not clear what that Committee did (i.e., were the “claimants” individuals or corporate entities), but what is clear is that Warren rendered legal services and advice.
Warren made five requests for compensation for services rendered May 2002 through January 2003, totalling $14,175, for “Professional Legal Services” which were described in detail in billing records attached to the requests, and included consultation and review of various motions.
Warren made the following or substantially identical representations to the Court in each of the fee applications (emphasis mine):
Professor Warren has maintained detailed records of the time spent in the rendition of professional services for the Committee during the Application Period. Attached hereto as Exhibit A and incorporated herein by reference is a true and correct copy of the monthly billing statement prepared for the services rendered in this case by Professor Warren (the “Billing Statement”). The Billing Statement is in the same form regularly used by Professor Warren to bill her clients for services rendered and includes the date that the services were rendered, a detailed, contemporaneous narrative description of the services, the amount of time spent for each service.
The documents, including the Orders approving the compensation, are embedded below and were pulled from the PACER electronic court docket. A name search for Warren in the PACER system would not reveal these records, since Warren was not counsel of record and did not enter an appearance.
The services do not list the location at which Warren rendered the services, but it almost certainly was at her Cambridge office, as the services were rendered in relatively small increments over a several month period of time.
This was, by Warren’s standards, a small matter. She would earn $212,000 for representing Travelers a few years laters, and unknown fees in the many other cases she handled from her Cambridge office.
This type of special retention, however, is significant because it highlights that Warren’s brief writing likely is the tip of the iceberg of her law practice. Only Warren knows the extent of her private law practice, and she refuses to make a full disclosure.
The issue is not just whether Warren was the champion of the poor, as she claims, but whether she practiced law from her Cambridge office without having the necessary Massachusetts attorney license required when one maintains an “office for the practice of law” or maintains any other “systematic and continuous presence in [Massachusetts] for the practice of law.”