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Elizabeth Warren law license problem goes to Court

Elizabeth Warren law license problem goes to Court

MA Republican Party asks Court to correct BBO General Counsel’s misstatements of law and perceived “partisan agenda”

As you are aware, I have pointed out that Michael Fredrickson, the General Counsel of the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers, has some explaining to do:

As detailed here before, within hours of my posting about Elizabeth Warren’s lack of a Massachusetts law license, Michael Fredrickson, the General Counsel of the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers, gave an interview to Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly in which he defended Warren.

Fredrickson did not indicate in the interview as reported that he was speaking in any capacity other than on behalf of the BBO and seemed to be exonerating Warren.

That Mass Lawyers Weekly interview has been the basis for the defense of Warren.  After all, if the General Counsel of the entity with quasi-regulatory authority publicly announced a conclusion, why treat the issue seriously?  Even The Boston Globe has a similar quote from Fredrickson today, and uses that quote to dismiss the issue out of hand.

Yet the issue is serious, as even people who did not initially agree with me have acknowledged.

Fredrickson effectively quashed the public discussion by virtue of his title and position.

Fredrickson later admitted, however, that he was not speaking on behalf of the BBO and was not reaching any conclusions as to Warren individually because he knew so little about her practice….

Normally, Bar officials everywhere are very closed-mouthed about matters under their jurisdiction.  Indeed, the Massachusetts Bar Counsel, a separate office which investigates and prosecutes, did not respond to requests for comment from  Even Fredrickson now is refusing further comment, according to Michael Patrick Leahy at

While Fredrickson no longer is talking publicly, his prior “personal” opinion, which was not based on an actual knowledge of Warren’s law practice, hangs out there as the purported BBO verdict exonerating Warren.  That creates a false impression which should be remedied.

Frankly, I considered that the very serious issues I raised about Warren’s practice of law would be buried by Fredrickson’s quite unusual and ill-considered statements.

But there is hope.

The Massachusetts Republican Party has sent a letter to the Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court complaining that Fredrickson appeared to politicize what is supposed to be a non-political office and judicial function.  Here is the press release, which was forwarded to me by someone on the Mass GOP’s email list:


For Immediate Release
October 8, 2012
Tim Buckley

MassGOP Sends Letter To SJC Questioning Recent Comments By Michael Fredrickson That “Appear To Advance A Partisan Agenda”

Boston- Today, MassGOP Chairman Bob Maginn sent the following letter to the Honorable Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland of the Supreme Judicial Court regarding recent comments made by Board of Bar Overseers General Counsel, Michael Fredrickson. The letter raises concerns about Mr. Fredrickson’s public comments that “appear to advance a partisan agenda that is inconsistent with any agency within the judicial branch.”

Supreme Judicial Court
The Honorable Roderick L. Ireland
John Adams Courthouse
One Pemberton Square, Suite 2500
Boston, MA 02108

October 8, 2012

RE: Michael Fredrickson

Dear Chief Justice Ireland:

I am writing to express concern that the Board of Bar Overseers General Counsel Michael Fredrickson has made public comments without the benefit of any investigation or due process regarding legality of U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren’s practice of law from her office in Cambridge without admission to the Massachusetts bar. Mindful that Attorney Fredrickson has a fine reputation as General Counsel to the Board of Bar Overseers (“BBO”), a fictional writer, and law professor, I am nonetheless compelled to make your office aware of his recent public statements, as follows:

• “Michael Fredrickson, general counsel for the BBO, says he does not believe a law professor would be considered to have ‘a continuous presence’ or ‘an office practicing law.’ ‘If they actually practice here – as some part-time law professors at some of the smaller schools do – they might,’ Fredrickson says. ‘But being a professor at one of the large schools, their office is a professor’s office, and the fact that they tend to dabble in the practice of law doesn’t run afoul of our rule. I don’t think Elizabeth Warren would fall within that, such that she would have to register here.’ (Lisa Keen, “Warren law license matter called non-issue,” Mass Lawyers Weekly, 9/24/12).

• “Fredrickson stated that he did not purport to determine whether Warren violated the applicable law. He said he was just ‘speaking hypothetically’ and not specifically as to Warren because ‘I know so little about Elizabeth Warren and her practice.’” (

• “Fredrickson confirmed that he did make the comments attributed to him in MLW, but also made clear that he was not speaking on behalf of the BBO. Fredrickson said it was his ‘personal reading’ of the law, and that he was ‘not speaking on behalf of the Board of Bar Overseers.’” (

Taking into consideration the honored tradition of the Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) and the BBO with regard to not politicizing the carrying out of your respective responsibilities, Mr. Fredrickson’s public comments appear to advance a partisan agenda that is inconsistent with any agency within the judicial branch. Foremost, Mr. Fredrickson’s statements arrived in the public dialogue devoid of any formal investigation, fact finding, or proper evaluation. Further, upon consultation with counsel, I understand Mr. Fredrickson’s conclusions to be incorrect. As a threshold, the part-time practice of law is not any less the practice of law; and, without an appropriate exception to the Rules of Professional Conduct, a license is required for the practice of law in the Commonwealth. Lastly, while I notice Mr. Fredrickson’s repackaged his statements as those of his own and not of the BBO they still may be attributable as opinions of the SJC and the BBO without a formal correction.

In view of the aforementioned, it may be appropriate for the SJC or the BBO to issue a statement recognizing the lack of authority and enforceability of Mr. Fredrickson’s personal views. Accordingly, with this correspondence, I deferentially request that the SJC issue a statement or direct the BBO to issue a statement to that effect.


Bob Maginn

Susan Mellen, Supreme Judicial Court, Clerk
Christine P. Burak, Legal Counsel to the Chief Justice
Michael Fredrickson, Board of Bar Overseers, General Counsel
David S. Mackey, Board of Bar Overseers, Chair

Several readers have alerted me to a prior disciplinary problem Fredrickson had at the BBO in which he let a personal agenda get in the way of his job responsibilities.

Whatever the motivation of Fredrickson, his statements need to be corrected forcefully and promptly.

[Note: The title of this post was changed shortly after publication]


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His past indiscretions seem to have resulted in a $10,000 slap on the wrist. There certainly seems to have been more than enough grounds to fire him.
On the other hand his Amazon reviews, though few, are pretty complimentary. I suspect that, if he is still writing, he has wised up and is now using a nom de plume.

Fictional writer defends fictional Indian?

Good! The Mass. Supremes won’t hand-wave this away, if they value the reputation of the Mass. bar at all…and I bet they DO.

Very good on ya, Mass. GOPers.

Liz Fauxlore’s next cookbook, What Now Chow: Recipes From the Hoosegow.

As we’ve all suspected, being a one-percenter like Warren means you get ‘big gun’ supporters coming to their defense. Such is the case with Harvard protecting it’s reputation:

“This is a story about the powerful (the former top lawyer for the U.S. government) stepping in to protect his institution (Harvard, the most powerful university in the country) and his coworker, Elizabeth Warren (who is running at the behest of the Obama administration to return Ted Kennedy’s seat to its ‘rightful owner’). And the killer is, Elizabeth Warren has as her electoral premise the notion that she’s a national treasure in her experience and drive to protect voters from the corruption of consolidated power!”

Henry Hawkins | October 8, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Ever wondered what it would be like to have a pit bull gnawing incessantly on your backside? Ask Elizabeth Warren about Legal Insurrection.


Are the links in the Maginn letter original or added?

    William A. Jacobson in reply to stevewhitemd. | October 8, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Original. They are strange, go to some weird service but do get you back to LI. Note to readers – I’m going to fix them so they are direct without changing anything else.

“Then pealed the bells more loud and deep, God is not dead nor doth He sleep, the wrong shall fail, the right prevail, to peace on Earth, good will to men.”

Professor, you have rendered superb service to your fellow-citizens of MASS; to the bar which you advance honorably; and to the nation you support.


All we want is a “level playing field”. “Just play fair”. That’s what we honorably ask. No “witch hunt” against Warren. No secret attack on Fredrickson. UP FRONT AND HONEST. I posted earlier, and others have AUGMENTED MY PUNY RESEARCH, citations of authority to MASS Bar Rules and other considerations which COMPEL INVESTIGATION. The integrity of MASS legal system and the state’s candidates for political office is at stake.


I would love to be optimistic, but do Courts have to answer to letters?

Does the BBO have to answer to any of the media’s requests as well?

Michael’s background is eclectic to say the least. From his own website –

    ReneeA in reply to bernie49. | October 8, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    There is nothing wrong with his background, he did go to Harvard Law School though which may be why he was so quick to defend Warren. What was a put-off in his personal statement was the comparison of law professors from second-tier law schools who had part-time practices compared to the ‘larger law schools’. Really that was insulting!

    Once you pass the Bar it is irrelevant which law school you graduated from, all lawyers are members of the Bar. Sure it may be relevant to employers, clients, and networking, but in front of the governing body that is NOT a factor.

legacyrepublican | October 8, 2012 at 4:32 pm

At what point does Fredrickson realize that he has participated in a de facto Jim Crow law. Ms. Warren used her alleged ethnic heritage to further her career under a separate but equal hiring practice and then Fredickson defended her practice of law and professorship.

Justice should be blind, not a hypocrite.

Good for the MA GOP going after him.

I’m shocked. I would expect that at a minimum a member of or counsel for a bar disciplinary agency in any state would be required to have a perfectly clean disciplinary record!

Too bad the Massachusetts Bar didn’t put a real scare into their ignoramus General Counsel who wrote novels using the Bar’s offices, materials and personnel time–by claiming that the copyrights to his fictional “masterpieces” were theirs. But I doubt there was any literary worth in any of them.

I listened to Prof. Jacobson on WBZ tonight with Dan Rea. Great job, professor. Keep at it!

Something I haven’t seen discussed is the future from this point. Big law firms bring in house lawyers from out of state all the time. They now have Elizabeth Warren cover.

And would a lawyer please explain what ‘practicing law’ means?

One of the things I keep hearing is the federal courts only require that you be a ‘practicing lawyer’ in good standing with a state bar. Near as I can tell, the debate is was she, or not, a member of the bar. But the only ‘practice of lsw’ was being done in MA. Not Texas or NJ. Also her defenders keep saying that she is NOT practicing law in MA. Because, she does not advertise or publicize her ‘practice of law’.
My understanding is, if I offer anyone legal advice, I am practicing law, whether I prepare briefs of make filings with the court. In short any person can defend themselves, but if someone else is offering legal counsel they must be members of the bar.

In short the Defenders of Warren are the reason lawyers are held in such low regard. As a lay person I think Warren is ignoring the law that doesnt suit her, and her defenders are grasping for any legal technacality, to get around the intent of the law. In short, laws are for the common people but Warren is special,because she is an elite.

[…] Besides, Jacobson has the scent of another story: As you are aware, I have pointed out that Michael Fredrickson, the General Counsel of the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers, has some explaining to do: […]

Warren doesn’t have a law license problem; she has an interventionist government problem. No one should have to have a license in order to provide a service or operate a business. Licenses are government’s way (often through crony capitalism) of restricting competition and controlling the market and consumers.

[…] action policies and earn promotions she didn’t otherwise deserve, but Jacobson’s proving that Warren also practiced Massachusetts state law without being a member of the Massachuset… or being in any way qualified to represent clients in the Bay State.  Democrats in the state at […]

[…] law in Illinois (not that a lack of license can really stop a Democrat from practicing law…just ask Elizabeth Warren about that). I think I know why they lost their licenses, but the answer may surprise (or disappoint) […]

“his statements need to be corrected forcefully and promptly.”

Well unless, of course, the court and the Board of Overseers is also in the bag for Warren and Democrats.

The public light being shined on this might make the difference.

Rats, cockroaches and other vermin despise the light.

I would have to think that any legal action she worked on would be an easy target to nullify.
Were I a concerned or affected party to a lawsuit where she had participated outside the normal rules of the trade, such as practicing without a license… I would by now have made a fresh filing contesting it’s legitimacy.. ( Were I the )

[…] that” movement. On top of that, her unique interpretation of her genealogical lineage is the least of her ethical concerns. On the other hand, this is Massachusetts. It’s been a tight race, with Warren and Brown […]