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Bar Closes Shames Investigation

The State Bar of California has closed an investigation of Michael Shames, head of Utility Consumers' Action Network. A whistleblower had filed a complaint with both the California Public Utilities Commission and the bar, noting that Shames calls himself an attorney, and in seeking intervenor fees from the commission, lists himself as an attorney, and often uses Esq., a designation of a lawyer in the U.S., after his name.

But Shames gave up membership in the bar in 1988. The commission dismissed the complaint, noting that someone participating in commission hearings does not have to be a lawyer. However, Shames' group hired an expert in non-profit law, Paul Dostart, to do a study of this and several other matters.

Dostart concluded that the commission may not have accurately stated California law in turning down the complaint. Dostart recommended that Shames call himself an "advocate" or "representative" rather than attorney in papers filed with the commission. Shames still calls himself an attorney.

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The State Bar of California has closed an investigation of Michael Shames, head of Utility Consumers' Action Network. A whistleblower had filed a complaint with both the California Public Utilities Commission and the bar, noting that Shames calls himself an attorney, and in seeking intervenor fees from the commission, lists himself as an attorney, and often uses Esq., a designation of a lawyer in the U.S., after his name.

But Shames gave up membership in the bar in 1988. The commission dismissed the complaint, noting that someone participating in commission hearings does not have to be a lawyer. However, Shames' group hired an expert in non-profit law, Paul Dostart, to do a study of this and several other matters.

Dostart concluded that the commission may not have accurately stated California law in turning down the complaint. Dostart recommended that Shames call himself an "advocate" or "representative" rather than attorney in papers filed with the commission. Shames still calls himself an attorney.

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Comments
29

Shames calls himself an attorney , and in seeking intervenor fees from the commission, lists himself as an attorney, and often uses Esq., a designation of a lawyer in the U.S., after his name.

No story here Don, he has done nothing wrong-except over compensate himself, as well as that clown from the city clowncil.

Aug. 13, 2011

I take the side of Dostart on this one. I think the CPUC has misinterpreted California law. Shames should stop calling himself an attorney, according to Dostart. The bar has regular educational training; that's just one reason a lawyer should keep his/her bar membership to practice law, even in front of a commission that theoretically says that one doesn't have to be a lawyer. If you read the original column (July 27) you can see more of Dostart's reading of state law and his conclusions on the matter. Best, Don Bauder

Aug. 13, 2011

Once you graduate LS you are a lawyer. Even if you are disbarred 3 days later. Once a lawyer always a lawyer.

Aug. 13, 2011

Strongly disagree, but you are entitled to your opinion. Best, Don Bauder

Aug. 14, 2011

Actually, surfpuppy619 is correct. According to Black's, once you are "learned in the law", you are a lawyer, licensed and practicing or not.

Aug. 14, 2011

I'll go with Dostart's interpretation of state law. Best, Don Bauder

Aug. 14, 2011

I'm eagerly awaiting further pieces from Don, and eventually one that wraps this up into a neat, conclusive summary. At this point, I'm confused, but then that may be nobody's fault but my own . . .

Aug. 14, 2011

Very few things get wrapped up into neat, conclusive summaries. There are exceptions: Madoff went down quickly and decisively. Best, Don Bauder

Aug. 14, 2011

I have to laugh at this discussion, because it is the same one we used to have on the legal blogs, and it is amazing how the opinions vary so much.

I always compare the JD to the MD, once you get the MD you are a doctor of medicine, even if you dig ditches for Caltrans. Same with a JD, once you earn that JD you are a lawyer, even if you dig ditches for Caltrans.

You may not be a PRACTICING doctor or lawyer, but you have earned the MD/JD designation.

Aug. 14, 2011

Are you sure you aren't talking semantics? Best, Don Bauder

Aug. 14, 2011

The semantics here are between the terms "lawyer" and "attorney." A lawyer is anyone who has completed law school. That's not any sort of great accomplishment today, with the law schools that flourish. But an attorney is one who is licensed by the state bar to actively engage in the practice of law, such as claiming to be able and ready to represent clients, file lawsuits, go before a judge and secure rulings, and all that stuff. There is a distinct difference. All of this previous discussion seems to miss the point: Shames says he's an attorney, yet he is not now and has not for a long time been licensed to practice law. So, he cannot claim to be an "attorney", but can call himself a lawyer.

At the present time, there is no such semantic difference in the medical profession (should there be?) to make a distinction. Yeah, an MD is a "Doctor" no matter what, even if he/she has had the license to practice medicine revoked. But the penalties for a "Doctor" to practice medicine without a state license are severe. The same should be true in the legal profession.

Aug. 15, 2011

says he's an attorney, yet he is not now and has not for a long time been licensed to practice law.

Shames is 100% licensed in CA by the State Bar and has been since 1983, nearly 30 years according tot he bar records. His license is inactive, but he does indeed have a license and could switch his license to active with one phone call.

. http://members.calbar.ca.gov/search/member_detail.aspx?x=108582 .

Aug. 15, 2011

A phone call? Accompanied by a check for his dues? It's that simple to reactivate one's law license? Seems 'way too simple to me.

Aug. 16, 2011

my old credentials r worthless to me now...i couldn't get a Iced Cinnamon Dolce Latte at Starbucks with them : (

but maybe i could with a reference from u Bauder ;-D

Aug. 15, 2011

Yes, but all I could say is that you are a great poet. Do you know how many great poets are starving and couldn't pay their Starbucks bills? Plenty. Best, Don Bauder

Aug. 15, 2011

~~deep breath and allegorical sigh~~

no worries tho mate...nearly all poets didn't have 2 pennies to rub together in their own lifetime

and their many admirers bought them Coffee

ur quite a writer urself

meet ya at Starbuck pooh...lol

i'll buy

i hope all goes well with u

Aug. 15, 2011

Nan, I am too virtuous for you. Haven't had a drink for almost 40 years. Almost never have caffeine. Don't smoke. I could have a decaf with you and hear you recite poetry. However, I put Starbucks in the same category as Wal-Mart -- that is, I think both are economically deleterious. Best, Don Bauder

Aug. 15, 2011

aaaaaaahhhhhh pooh...ur way 2 nice a guy 2 corrupt...but i would recite poetry 2 u til the cows come home given the opportunity

how about Upstart Crows

i don't drink..smoke occasionally..and think Walmart is unamerican

u r the smartest man i know and the best Bauder :)

Aug. 16, 2011

The meaning of life lies, not in lying up, but lying down . . .

"They tell us we are wasting time . . . but we are wasting our LIVES!" --Eric Hoffer

Aug. 15, 2011

In politics, the meaning of life is lies. Best, Don Bauder

Aug. 15, 2011

There are no chaste minds. Minds copulate wherever they meet. Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

Aug. 16, 2011

Nan: After boasting about my virtue: no alcohol, no tobacco, no caffeine, no chasing of women, etc., I read this morning that a couple of glasses of red wine in the evening and several cups of coffee during the day will stall or prevent Alzheimer's. I know what you are going to say next: No, I have not yet been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Nor will I take up red wine and coffee. I didn't see any indication that chasing women prevents Alzheimer's. In fact, that can get you murdered if you chase the wrong woman. Best, Don Bauder

Aug. 16, 2011

my darling husband has moderate Alzheimer's...and he still chases me thank goodness

the wine is a good idea whether u plan to wear ur running shoes out or not Don

as quick witted as u r i think ur mind like a steel trap is still functioning quite well...so no worries there

Alzheimer's is a disease that shows itself early...when one is in ones late 50's or early 60's

u got nothing to worry about pooh ;-S

Aug. 16, 2011

You're so sweet, Nan. I hope you are also right. Best, Don Bauder

Aug. 17, 2011

how could i not be sweet to a Pooh lover Don

take it from me...ya got nothing to worry about

i consider u in the same category i consider myself...OLD AND FORMIDABLE...hahahahahahahahaha ;-S

btb...do u fish???

Aug. 17, 2011

I neither fish nor hunt. Fished a bit until very early teens. Best, Don Bauder

Aug. 17, 2011

i was never able to hunt but while in Oregon i fished up a storm ;-S

Aug. 18, 2011

What is the present disposition of the Shames "case?"

Aug. 17, 2011

I am sure there is more to come. Best, Don Bauder

Aug. 17, 2011

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