Warren’s trying to get ahead of two potentially damaging issues and a looming major media investigation.
Elizabeth Warren posted on her campaign website a list of 56 cases on which she worked while employed as a law professor. In some of the cases she acted as legal counsel in a litigation, in others she gave legal advice outside of a court litigation, and in others she was retained as an expert.
Soon after that information dump, the Washington Post ran a story about it, indicating WaPo had been looking into Warren’s legal caseload, While teaching, Elizabeth Warren worked on more than 50 legal matters, charging as much as $675 an hour:
Sen. Elizabeth Warren worked on more than 50 legal matters during her career as a professor at Ivy League law schools, charging as much as $675 an hour to advise a variety of clients, including people with asbestos disease and a corporation facing possible liability over ruptured breast implants.
Warren’s presidential campaign released a list of 56 cases on her website Wednesday night, revealing a far higher number of cases than Warren (D-Mass.) had previously disclosed and lending detail to an aspect of her career that she rarely discusses in public. The Washington Post had requested a detailed accounting of her outside work and was conducting a review of her work from public records.
When she first ran for the Senate in 2012, Warren came under pressure from her Republican opponent and the news media to discuss her legal work. At the time, she released a list of 13 cases without saying whether it represented a full accounting; at least one other case came to light during the race.
This WaPo coverage has worked to Warren’s great advantage, with her backers on social media — including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Hillary communications person Charlotte Clymer – portraying this as an issue either of a lawyer getting paid for her expertise, so no big deal, or the hourly rate being questioned only because Warren’s a woman. The $675 is the perfect distraction for Warren from more serious issues.
This has been, so far, a good move for Warren’s campaign team. But I’m not sure it will last.
The Warren info dump appears to be a direct response to WaPo asking for information about her cases. This is a classic Warren campaign tactic, only release what you think helps you (like the 13 cases in 2012), and then do a preemptive release of more information when you think negative information will come out.
But I’m not sure that’s all that’s concerning the Warren campaign. I know for a fact that another major newspaper has been conducting an investigation into Warren’s legal practice, an investigation that appears to be much more granular and exhaustive than WaPo. Warren must know about that looming investigation, and this information dump just before a holiday weekend was a way of creating a narrative favorable to Warren before the potentially bad news dropped.
What could that bad news look like?
Go back to Legal Insurrection’s coverage from 2012, where I covered Warren’s legal practice in far more depth than anyone else. My research findings became issues in the 2012 Senate campaign. The two key issues were:
First, Warren represented corporate America against the ‘little guys and gals’. Warren represented that her legal work for large corporations was to help individuals. I demonstrated based on court records that in several key cases Warren has misrepresented the nature of her legal work, that in fact she was working against consumers and individuals. See this summary page at ElizabethWarrenWiki.org, Legal Representation of Major Corporations, and these posts here from October and early November 2012:
- Elizabeth Warren issues incomplete list of cases
- Elizabeth Warren represented large utility seeking to liquidate rural electric cooperative
- Elizabeth Warren’s implausible Dow Chemical claim
- Elizabeth Warren held asbestos workers hostage to inter-corporate fight
- Documenting another Elizabeth Warren fib — Fairchild Aircraft case
This is not a narrative favorable to Warren. She made hundreds of thousands of dollars, likely millions, representing the corporate America she routinely demonized once she became a politician. There was nothing inherently wrong with her legal work representing corporate America, there is something wrong with presenting it as something it wasn’t. It’s a question of transparency and honesty, much like her multi-year struggle to explain why she falsely claimed to be Native American for employment purposes.
Second, Warren’s newly disclosed extensive legal practice raises more questions about her lack of a license to practice law in Massachusetts. Warren ran her law practice from her law school office in Cambridge, MA, and represented to various courts and the Texas bar that that office was her office for the practice of law. She did so over the space of almost a decade, handing dozens of cases. But she wasn’t licensed to practice law in Massachusetts.
Many Warren supporters try to confuse the issue by asserting that she always obtained pro hac vice admissions in various courts. That’s comparing apples to oranges. Lawyers need to be admitted to practice in each court in which they appear, but they also need to be licensed in the states in which they establish an office or other systematic and continuous practice of law. Maintaining a law office, and representing to courts that such office is your office for the practice of law, would seem to trigger the requirement for state licensing. [Note added – The restrictions on practicing law without a license were more stringent for the time period in question; this linked standard was a loosening to allow multi-jurisdictional practice of law provided it was not through an office or systematic and continuous practice in the state. Thus, the rule change, which followed the ABA standard, actually is worse for Warren because she didn’t even meet the subsequently adopted relaxed standard.)
The reaction from Warren supporters to this reporting was to blame the messenger (me). I’m already getting some of that on Twitter when I resurfaced the issue, many from accounts that have few followers.
You can review the summary page at ElizabethWarrenWiki.org, Law License Controversy, and these September 2012 posts here:
- Elizabeth Warren’s law license problem
- Massachusetts BBO General Counsel has some explaining to do
- Elizabeth Warren listed Cambridge as “primary practice location” with Texas Bar
- Elizabeth Warren 2002 – Working on at least 10 private legal matters
- Elizabeth Warren represented Massachusetts client in Massachusetts
- Elizabeth Warren defender: “With this bombshell, I would no longer view the case against her as weak”
- Fed Judge 2002 – Questions why law Prof not licensed in MA provided legal services from MA office
Warren managed to bury the law license issue in 2012, and it has stayed buried until now. Running for president will do that, the level of scrutiny and the media/opposition research is on a completely different level than a Senate campaign.
I appeared on the Howie Carr Show today, and explained it all:
When you view this history, you can understand how Warren wanted to spin her narrative before more negative information came out.DONATE
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