Legal Insurrection’s Bill Jacobson has done yeoman’s work in uncovering what could be a game changer in the Massachusetts Senate race.
Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren is not licensed to practice law in the state of Massachusetts. The fact that she dispensed legal advice, wrote briefs, and represented clients — the legal definition of “practicing law” — means that Warren may be in a world of hurt.
As detailed below, there are at least two provisions of Massachusetts law Warren may have violated. First, on a regular and continuing basis she used her Cambridge office for the practice of law without being licensed in Massachusetts. Second, in addition to operating an office for the practice of law without being licensed in Massachusetts, Warren actually practiced law in Massachusetts without being licensed.
Warren refused to disclose the full extent of her private law practice when asked by The Boston Globe. If Warren denies that she has practiced law in Massachusetts without a license, Warren should disclose the full extent of her private law practice. The public has a right to assess whether Warren has failed to comply with the most basic requirement imposed on others, the need to become a member of the Bar of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in order to practice law in and from Massachusetts.
Jacobson followed up his voluminous research by making phone calls to the Board of Bar Overseers to ascertain Warren’s status:
I confirmed with the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers by telephone that Warren never has been admitted to practice in Massachusetts. I had two conversations with the person responsible for verifying attorney status. In the first conversation the person indicated she did not see any entry for Warren in the computer database, but she wanted to double check. I spoke with her again several hours later, and she indicated she had checked their files and also had spoken with another person in the office, and there was no record of Warren ever having been admitted to practice in Massachusetts.
Warren’s own listing of her Bar admissions is consistent with not being licensed in Massachusetts. In a June 25, 2008 CV Warren listed only Texas and New Jersey.
Jacobson also uncovered this curious fact in a phone call to the New Jersey Board of Bar Examiners:
While the date of termination of her New Jersey license is not on the website, telephone inquiries to the New Jersey Board of Bar Examiners and the New Jersey Lawyers Fund For Client Protection indicated that Warren resigned her license on September 11, 2012 (one of the people remarked to me “that’s a memorable day”). It’s odd that in the middle of a campaign Warren would take the time to resign her New Jersey Bar membership, particularly since she would have to retake the Bar exam to be readmitted.
Neither office in New Jersey could state whether her license was continuously active until her resignation because the computer only shows the current status, so I have made the request in writing as instructed. By resigning her New Jersey license earlier this month, Warren made it more difficult for the public to determine her pre-resignation status.
Sounds like someone with something to hide.
While this information might give a big boost to incumbent GOP Senator Scott Brown’s campaign, Massachusetts is a deep blue state with a 3:1 registration advantage for the Democrats. Democratic voters in the Bay State may avert their eyes and ignore this information, voting for Warren anyway. And it remains to be seen whether Massachusetts media will act like journalists and actually cover the story.
But at the very least, this gives Brown some potent ammunition to use against his opponent. In a close race, enough people might change their minds about the Democratic candidate to give Brown a victory.