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Elizabeth Warren’s law license problem on Fox News today

Elizabeth Warren’s law license problem on Fox News today

It’s always interesting to see how an issue you are intimately involved in plays out when it makes it to national broadcasts.

Because of the time pressure on major shows, everything has to get drilled down, and sometimes things get lost.

The issue of Elizabeth Warren’s license problem was featured on Fox News today, and while some things did get lost, I think the big picture came through.

It’s just not believable or credible to claim that what Elizabeth Warren did for 15+ years from her Cambridge office was not practicing law in Massachusetts.

Let me know what you think. Article here, video here)

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Comments

VetHusbandFather | September 25, 2012 at 5:30 pm

We saw this featured on Fox News today, and think Megyn Kelly did a decent job of moderating both sides, however we also felt that there was a lot of detail missing. How is “practicing law” actually defined, and what is causing the breakdown in opinion over this? And regardless of whether there is some technicality-related loophole regarding this definition that she was able to squeeze her way through, it doesn’t detract from the fact that her actions were at BEST, dubious and lacking the integrity and transparency that most people hope for in someone running for public office.

Mercedes Colwin certainly gets it and she’s no conservative. Joey Jackson was…predictable.

Insufficiently Sensitive | September 25, 2012 at 5:52 pm

The practice of law is defined in the Massachusetts statute which requires licensure. There are possibly exceptions, also spelled out in that statute.

How come these smart Fox lawyers haven’t read over that statute before commencing their megablathers on TV? It’s on the Internet, at the Mass Board of Bar Overseers. They could cite actual evidence, instead of blithely telling us that Professor Warren is clean as a whistle.

    Why aren’t you embarrassed that Elizabeth “Consumer Protection” Warren represented insurance companies getting claims by injured asbestos workers dismissed. Most of those plaintiffs were dying union working people. Why aren’t you holding Elizabeth Warren accountable for that.

    She got paid over $200,000 on the Travelers case alone. She was doing part time work like this for years out of her office at Harvard.

    Did she get this work because she was such a great legal mind? Or was it to buy political favor with the Democrat powers that be?

      DemNoMore in reply to EBL. | September 25, 2012 at 7:35 pm

      This seems to be a discussion limited to her possible violation of the statute governing the practice of law in Massachusetts, but I agree with you that it’s at least as big a story that she was representing the insurance company, not the persons injured by asbestos. So much for her looking out for the little guy. And when you consider that when Barack Obama was engaged in the practice of law in Illinois, he represented slumlords; and when Michelle Obama was employed by a hospital in Chicago, her job was to figure out how her hospital could deny care to the indigent, I think we’re seeing a pattern here. Too bad the gullible Obama worshipers can’t catch on. (I am a little puzzled, though, why you think Insuf Sens should be embarrassed by Warren’s behavior just because he wanted the lawyers on Fox, who also vex me on a regular basis, to read the statute before they determined Warren to be innocent of any wrongdoing).

I’m not a lawyer but I play one on T.V….

What seemed to be material to this argument but was missing from the discussion was that she accepted remuneration for her legal services.

Offer, acceptance, performance, remuneration. That would be a contract, right? If you’re engaging in a contract, you’re doing business. If you are practicing law for remuneration, then you are required to be licensed in Massachusetts.

She is not.

End of story.

    Well put.

    Has Warren released her tax records? One presumes Warren claimed the $200k as earned income and paid taxes accordingly (which may be presumptuous), so how else could one characterize such income?

    I’ll have to go with Occam’s Razor on this one.

      turfmann in reply to bjm. | September 26, 2012 at 2:08 am

      I’m surprised at you, bjm.

      You should know by now that only Republicans are asked to reveal and are held up for scrutiny on their tax records.

      Scott Brown could release everything from his tax records to the results of his latest proctology exam, but to suggest that Ms. Warren should even be asked the question is racist.

      Please report to reeducation camp in the morning.

My gut tells me that Joey Jackson is not fully convinced Warren is in the right on this. I’ve watched clips of Kelly’s Court many times because they often do a good job of presenting both sides of controversial legal issues. And not every on “in the Court” is on board, but they have to each take an opposing side to argue. In this case Jackson seems to be doing the ABCs in defending Warren, but I’m not so sure he disagrees with Colwin in total either. (Aren’t lawyers supposed to do they best within ‘the law’ in representing a side??) It is hard to walk away from that segment thinking Warren is fully in the clear and Jackson seems very much okay with that.

Insufficiently Sensitive | September 25, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Drat, the exact Mass. statute is hard to find. Well, here’s the American Bar Association, which is about as liberal as Massachusetts:

(b) For the purposes of this chapter, the practice of law is defined as follows:

Whoever,

(1) In a representative capacity appears as an advocate or draws papers, pleadings or documents, or performs any act in connection with proceedings pending or prospective before a court or a body, board, committee, commission or officer constituted by law or having authority to take evidence in or settle or determine controversies in the exercise of the judicial power of the state or any subdivision thereof; or

(2) For a consideration, reward or pecuniary benefit, present or anticipated, direct or indirect, advises or counsels another as to secular law, or draws or procures or assists in the drawing of a paper, document or instrument affecting or relating to secular rights; or

(3) For a consideration, reward or pecuniary benefit, present or anticipated, direct or indirect, does any act in a representative capacity in behalf of another tending to obtain or secure for such other the prevention or the redress of a wrong or the enforcement or establishment of a right; or

(4) As a vocation, enforces, secures, settles, adjusts or compromises defaulted, controverted or disputed accounts, claims or demands between persons with neither of whom he is in privity or in the relation of employer and employee in the ordinary sense;

is practicing law.

It appears that many of those sentences cover Lizzy Warren’s legal activities in Massachusetts pretty well, for the last fifteen years or so.

I am getting the vibe, that a few more uncovered Lizard-Lies are headed Lizard’s way

“Let me know what you think.”

I think Lie-awatha is an arrogant, clueless, self-centered idiot.

Next?

also, assuming Lizard was admitted in NJ, that in no way authorized practice of law in Mass.

but to be honest, tons of lawyers from one state move to another state and never re-register in the new state. You’ll find this happening is virtually every fortune 5000 company in Massachusetts and across the U.S.A.

gotta find some better stuff of the LIZARD LIAR

    Pasturized in reply to george. | September 25, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    Surely you don’t mean that lawyers hold themselves to a lower standard than they’d let apply to another licensed trade/profession.

    I’m shocked.

Yep, saw the entire piece during the noon hour here in TX and my hearty congratulations for having made the “big time!”

When I look at the entire slate of candidates that I’ll be able to choose from in November, not one will be a democrat and I AM a conservative independent.

Keep pounding away prof!

It is pretty clear to me that writing one or two briefs a year for different lcients is not the systematic and continuous presence required by the statute. It is also pretty clear to me she did not establish the Havard office for the practice of law as required by the statute. It is not clear to me that the co writing of an advocacy brief is the practice of law because she may not have given the client advice and the writing of a brief is not directing or managing the enforcement of legal claims

You also need to look at Section 5.5c2

    janitor in reply to jim1. | September 25, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    Didn’t she also take money and use the services in her office to do her work?

      Not relevant as far as I can tell. “Systematic and continuous” presence in “the practice of law” means more than reviewing and rewriting a few co-briefs a year.

        janitor in reply to jim1. | September 26, 2012 at 3:21 pm

        My comments were questioning the use of her full-time college employment facilities and staff.

        Be this as it may, I’m not sure whether “continuous” as far as Mass. UPL means anything more than that she had a continuing presence and address in the state, which she used when she did practice law (for compensation), whether full-time or part-time or only a few briefs a year.

        Many law professors collaborative on amicus briefs, for which they do not get compensation, are not representing clients, and are not holding out as attorneys of record on cases emanating out of jurisdictions in which they are not licensed.

Someone has to go and file a formal complaint in Massachusetts with the BBO pronto and see what happens. Aren’t there any attorneys who will step up to the plate?

    Mercyneal in reply to Chris Mac. | September 25, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    I don’t know about Massachusetts, but in California ANYONE can file a complaint. The California Bar told me they’ve launched investigations against attorneys based on news articles.

    Has anyone here, or will anyone, file a complaint against Warren?

Yep…build a bigger story about her compulsive lying, cheating, and fear mongering. She’s unfit for office.

BannedbytheGuardian | September 25, 2012 at 6:47 pm

My guess is that one can act as a ‘consultant’ & be unlicensed in that state. It is quite likely a consultant does not need any license anywhere.

If her name & signature appear on legal documents it might get interesting.

    Insufficiently Sensitive in reply to BannedbytheGuardian. | September 25, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    My guess is that one can act as a ‘consultant’ & be unlicensed in that state. It is quite likely a consultant does not need any license anywhere.

    Consultants are not exempt from professional liability, when their clients self-damage by following the consultant’s advice. Most professional licenses, or lack of, are strongly affected by this concept.

    “Consulting” for pay about the law is practicing law.

BannedbytheGuardian | September 25, 2012 at 6:51 pm

However I have just arranged for a specialist ortho appointment. I notice that the doctor did a recent fellowship at Harvard Medical School which I thought was a plus.

I should ask him if his teachers were registered medical practitioners in MA.!

2nd Ammendment Mother | September 25, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Hilariously, Warren finally showed up on our local political blog – under the topic: Scott Brown is a Racist

That’s what I get for living in the Bluest County in Texas.

If she wasn’t practicing law, what were they paying her for? If they PAID her for practicing law and but she wasn’t, isn’t that fraud?

I hope Marisa DeFranco [who was squashed in the state Democratic primary by the big political bosses in favor of Lieawatha] is enjoying the show and getting some great laughs out of this.

Earth to Megyn Kelly, William Jacobson is not “some guy.”

William A. Jacobson
Associate Clinical Professor,
Cornell Law School

In other words, he is a Professor of Law at Cornell Law School.

(Megyn Kelly leans left, btw)

Using the standard applied by the all Democrats everywhere, in all instances, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”

Even if Warren is lock/stock guilty of some practice regulation(s), final disposition will not come before November 6th, but there is no determining when the latest Warren-related scandal becomes the straw that breaks the camel’s back. I think it always wise to never overstate one’s position, accusations, etc., and WAJ has kept to that in this latest Warren ‘thing’. It certainly doesn’t help her chances.

HLS must be sitting on pins and needles wondering when growing concern over their employment and support of Warren bubbles up into something ugly for them.

I thought Kelly and the panel did a fair job discussing this, especially given how difficult it is to discuss the applicable law in a brief TV interview.

My quibble is that they didn’t identify your blog by name or, if they did, it was so fleeting that I missed it.

Everyone keeps talking about the Massachusetts rules of professional conduct for lawyers and why the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers has not investigated Elizabth Warren. Simple fact is, they only have authority regulate lawyers. They can’t do anything about someone how has never been licensed in Mass. and the ethical rules don’t apply to someone who is not licensed (although the rules of a state where Warren was licensed at the time might).

Masschusetts does have a statute regarding unauthorized practice of law, however. It’s Massachusetts General Laws chapter 221, Section 41, which reads, in its entirety:

“Whoever has been so removed and continues thereafter to practice law or to receive any fee for his services as an attorney at law rendered after such removal, or who holds himself out, or who represents or advertises himself as an attorney or counsellor at law, or whoever, not having been lawfully admitted to practice as an attorney at law, represents himself to be an attorney or counsellor at law, or to be lawfully qualified to practice in the courts of the commonwealth, by means of a sign, business card, letter head or otherwise, or holds himself out or represents or advertises himself as having authority or power in behalf of persons who have claims for damages to procure settlements of such claims for damages either to person or property, or whoever, not being an attorney at law, solicits or procures from any such person or his representative, either for himself or another, the management or control of any such claim, or authority to adjust or bring suit to recover for the same, or solicits for himself or another from a person accused of crime or his representative the right to defend the accused person, shall be punished for a first offence by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than six months, and for a subsequent offence by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than one year.”

Does anyone think that this clarifies the situation?

    ThomasD in reply to PlainTalk. | September 25, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    In this case the applicability of that statute hinges on the phrase ‘not having been lawfully admitted to practice as an attorney at law…’ Which punts the issue right back to the MA BBO for a determination of her status.

      It also seems to depend on “Whoever has been so removed”. I don’t think she was ever removed from the list of lawyers authorized to practice law in MA (I’m assuming “so removed” refers to the lawyers authorized to practice in MA–that may be incorrect).

      Wrong, wrong, wrong:

      “… or who holds himself out, or who represents or advertises himself as an attorney or counsellor at law, or whoever, not having been lawfully admitted to practice as an attorney at law, represents himself to be an attorney or counsellor at law, or to be lawfully qualified to practice in the courts of the commonwealth, by means of a sign, business card, letter head or otherwise, or holds himself out or represents or advertises himself as having authority or power in behalf of persons who have claims for damages to procure settlements of such claims for damages either to person or property, or whoever, not being an attorney at law, solicits or procures from any such person or his representative, either for himself or another, the management or control of any such claim, or authority to adjust or bring suit to recover for the same, …”

[…] Meanwhile, William Jacobson’s exclusive report on Elizabeth Warren’s missing Massachusetts law license made national news today for the second straight day in a row. […]

Let me know what you think.

1. You and commenters like Conrad et al seem to be talking past each other. The crucial points seem to be:

a. under what conditions MA can regulate Warren’s activities at the federal bench, and

b. whether Warren has surreptitiously provided intrastate legal services.

2. Taken in the context of Warren’s career path, your findings trigger my strong suspicion that the particulars of Warren’s undisclosed legal work are politically damaging regardless of her licensing status.

    3. Conjecture: Maybe the particulars of Warren’s (publicly) undisclosed legal work contributed to Obama’s decision not to nominate her to run the “consumer protection” agency she created.

    Pasturized in reply to gs. | September 26, 2012 at 7:40 am

    She can’t have been doing work in the US District Court of Massachusetts, either. To be admitted to the bar of the US District Court of Massachusetts (where Warren is not an active member) one must be a member in good standing of the Massachusetts bar (where Warren has never been a member).

There is no law license problem, unless you are a statist who believes in government monopoly. Government restricts competition by “allowing” people to hold a license in order to practice a trade, provide a service, or operate a business, and monopoly pricing follows. Licenses are anti-market and anti-freedom. They are most certainly big government authoritarianism.

    Pasturized in reply to khan. | September 26, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Should (God forbid) you need some major surgery, will you be going to a Board certified surgeon licensed in the state in which you will receive the surgery, or the guy with the degree from the Serbian Surgical Center who’s working as an insurance adjuster and does a little cutting on the side (no pun intended) in his garage on the weekend?

    byondpolitics in reply to khan. | September 26, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    You mean, unless you live peacefully in the United States and consequently accept that there is a rule of law in place?

TeaPartyPatriot4ever | September 25, 2012 at 11:40 pm

This is typical of liberal Democrats who have no ethical professional integrity, aka virtues whatsoever, thus is Ms. Warren’s slick misrepresentation’s and actions concerning lawful law practices either being revoked for unethical violations, and or were never legally sanctioned, via the BAR in a specific State, seems to be standard operating procedure for Democrats.. which never seems to mean anything to the voters who vote for them. eg; Bill Clinton. What else is new..

So great to see you credited on FOX. Keep up the good work — they need to make you a commenter on FOX!

The Boston Globe article pointed to her approximately $150,000 in annual income from her “home based business” of law, teaching, investing etc and I recall Howie Carr’s article for the Boston Herald about Liz Warren’s house-flipping. Did “Elizabeth Warren of Cambridge Mass” appear on documents as a preparer of deeds? That’s the “practice of law” par excellence.

I would also suspect that “Elizabeth Warren of Cambridge Mass” has on more than occasion helped family, friends, colleagues or MA businesses on legal matters which have nothing to do with teaching Bankruptcy Law. Leases, real estate closings, loan application assistance, bankruptcy filings, helping someone in Probate Court, etc. Even if Elizabeth Warren wasn’t paid for work in MA and did it all out of the goodness of her heart, she would have been practicing law in MA doing any of these activities.

Mentioned at her wiki page is a reference to an award she received from The Women’s Bar Association in MA
I cant find the award write up referenced

http://www.womensbar.org/content.aspx?page_id=3&club_id=808000

I think the next step is for someone to research Massachusetts ethics precedents, assuming that they’re available. I guess Warren’s defenders break down into arguing:

1) Consulting on, preparing and filing 1-2 briefs per year for fifteen years doesn’t constitute the “practice of law.” (This one is absurd).

2) Under MA Rule 5.5(c), Warren’s activity was sufficiently temporary that she could qualify for one of the exceptions.

3) Under MA Rule 5.5(d) or the Supremacy Clause, Warren was permitted to work on federal court matters regardless of MA licensure.

4) Under MA Rule 5.3, Warren was a “non-lawyer” supervised by an attorney.

5) As a matter of bar practice, the bar doesn’t really scrutinize side projects of unlicensed Harvard Law professors, even if that activity technically implicates the unauthorized practice sections.

Regarding a complaint: as a member of the bar, I have the right and obligation, as any Mass lawyer, to file a complaint with the BBO against a practicing attorney in Massachusetts if I were privy to an ethics violation.

However, Ms. Warren is not a Massachusetts practicing attorney. She’s not a member of the Mass Bar. I think then, that the BBO has no power to sanction her.

However, her practice may be a violation of running an unlicensed law practice Chapter 46A. The Court, Attorney General or District Attorney (in Cambridge I suppose) has the enforcement authority under Ch 46B which provides for equitable relief by the court to a complaint filed by 3 attorney or the AG or the DA.

So, in theory, I along with 2 other lawyers could petition the court for equitable relief or could visit the AG or the DA with a complaint: As in, “Justice please make Ms Warren stop practicing law in this state without a license.”

The problem with that complaint is that she’s already stopped. The relief of chapter 46B is equitable. It’s not a criminal statute and I can’t see damages so there’s no civil remedy.

In short, the value of a complaint, other than a complaint in the court of public opinion, appears worthless but I invite alternative views.

If Elizabeth Warren had worked for me, I’d be a little bit nervous about whether I had attorney client privilege right about now.

2nd Ammendment Mother | September 26, 2012 at 11:33 am

Just a couple of silly questions…..

What is Harvard’s policy for their staff listing their University Address as their Law Office? if they allow the use of their address for their teachers to conduct business as a courtesy, is it also allowed if they sell Avon or Amway?

Did Warren have a business license in Massachusetts listing her place of business? Did she pay her state sales, business and franchise taxes?

Just seems like there are quite a few questions here besides where her law license was issued.

[…] Effectiveness of Lies and Liars Posted on September 26, 2012 3:30 pm by Bill Quick » Elizabeth Warren’s law license problem on Fox News today – Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion It’s always interesting to see how an issue you are intimately involved in plays out when it […]

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