If some first-rate detective work done by Legal Insurrection proprietor William A. Jacobson gets the publicity it deserves, Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic Senate candidate from Massachusetts may have far more trouble on her hands than her false claims of Native American ancestry. Despite maintaining a Cambridge law office for more than a decade, Jacobson has discovered that Warren has no license to practice law in that state.
Last Thursday’s debate between Brown and Warren brought the issue into focus, albeit indirectly. “When you talk about who’s side you’re on, I’m on the side of the taxpayers,” said Brown. “When you had a choice to make in your career, you chose to side with one of the biggest corporations in the United States, Travelers Insurance. You worked to prohibit all the people who got asbestos poisoning…she helped Travelers deny those benefits for asbestos poisoning… and made over $250,000 in an effort to protect big corporations…” Warren vehemently denied the charge. “It’s just not true,” she replied. “The Boston Globe has looked at this, they’ve written about it, and it’s all clear: I’ve been out there for working families, I’ve been out there for working people…”
Warren is correct in one respect. The Boston Globe did indeed cover the story of her work for Travelers. “It is clear that Warren received a substantial amount of money to help the company win immunity from all future lawsuits, with the expectation that the company would have to pay the settlement,” the paper reports. “But Warren’s work on the case may also have helped Travelers indirectly lay the groundwork for its current position, a position Warren and several other lawyers involved on both sides of the case say they did not foresee: where Travelers has immunity from most suits without having to pay the settlement.” With respect to remuneration, the paper revealed that the “$212,000 she earned from Travelers from 2008 to 2010 was included in Warren’s government disclosure forms,” confirming Scott’s allegations. Yet the most damming aspect of the Globe’s report was the fact that Warren “would not say how much she has earned for her outside work in these and other cases.”
Enter Jacobson, who reveals that Warren represented “not just Travelers, but numerous other companies starting in the late 1990s working out of and using her Harvard Law School office in Cambridge, which she listed as her office of record on briefs filed with various courts.” He explains the implications of that representation, noting that “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,” he writes.
Jacobson conducted a search of the Board of Bar Overseers attorney search website under both the Senate candidate’s married last name of Warren, as well as her maiden name, Elizabeth Herring. He confirmed his search with two telephone calls to the person responsible for verifying attorney status. His suspicions were confirmed: “there was no record of Warren ever having been admitted to practice in Massachusetts,” he writes.
Jacobson investigated further, revealing that Warren’s own listing of her status on her curriculum vitae dated June 25, 2008 shows that she was licensed to practice law in Texas and New Jersey. Yet a review of her Texas Bar Information reveals that she is not currently eligible to be licensed in that state either. It is unclear when Warren went on inactive status in Texas. As for New Jersey, Warren became licensed to practice law in that state in 1977. Yet as Jacobson reveals, the continuity of her status there is also in question. The New Jersey Board of Bar Examiners and the New Jersey Lawyers Fund For Client Protection indicate that Warren resigned her license on September 11, 2012, but neither organization could confirm whether her license was continuously active during the entire period from 1977-2012. There is speculation that Warren’s resignation was tendered specifically to prevent that information from getting out. Jacobson is endeavoring to find out, having submitted the necessary request in writing.