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Michael Shames, head of watchdog Utility Consumers' Action Network (UCAN), has rejoined the State Bar of California. His readmission is dated Oct. 5.

Earlier this year, the Reader reported that Shames had not been a member of the bar since 1988, although he identified himself as a lawyer and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) also listed him as an attorney. A whistle blower within UCAN took the matter to the CPUC, which ruled that Shames did not have to be a lawyer.

However, a consultant hired by the UCAN board questioned the CPUC's reading of California law and recommended that Shames stop calling himself an attorney. After the initial Reader story appeared, Shames pointed out that he was still calling himself an attorney. At least one board member was upset about his not being in the bar while claiming to be a lawyer.

It turned out that Shames didn't only practice before the CPUC. The Reader reported that he had co-filed an amicus brief before the appellate court while not a bar member. The whistle blower says that the bar is still investigating.

Comments
20

At least one board member was upset about his not being in the bar while claiming to be a lawyer.

Don, how many times do we have to go over this??

1- Shames is a a MEMBER of the Bar even while on "inactive" status-so the board memebr claiming he was "not being in the bar" is factual wrong.

2-Shames is still a lawyer even while on inactive status. He would still be a lawyer even if he were disbarred. He simply cannot practice while on inactive status and he could obviously not practice if disbarred, but he would still be a lawyer in both instances-an inactive lawyer or a disbarred lawyer.

OK, my rant is over.

Oct. 12, 2011

Sorry, SurfPup, but with three attorneys in the family, I know the importance each one places upon remaining an active attorney, a member of the Bar. Inactive status just doesn't cut it when claiming to be an attorney. Call yourself a lawyer and nobody sees that as out of bounds. A law degree entitles one to claim to be a lawyer. Attorney status is more, and he was pushing the envelope at a minimum, while on "inactive" status. And if Shames is so sure of himself, who did he not maintain "active" status?

Oct. 12, 2011

Shames thought inactive status was OK in practicing before the CPUC -- and it agreed -- but he then practiced before the appellate court while inactive. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 12, 2011

But he did practice before the appellate court when inactive. That's a no-no. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 12, 2011

The amicus brief too old to trouble Shames. He can't be prosecuted as the statute has run. Even if Shames is representing himself as eligible to practice law, unless he took money from clients or represented to a court that his law license is active recently, there's nothing the State Bar can do to him.

Oct. 12, 2011

Well, he decided to rejoin the bar. There must have been some reason. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 12, 2011

The reason might have been that Don Bauder pointed a bright light of publicity at the matter. The last thing he needs now is to have his professionalism questioned by the Bar. Who knows what that could bring down upon him and UCAN.

Oct. 15, 2011

so for the number of people with a law degree, who are unable to pass the bar, can they receive pay for being an analyst?

Oct. 13, 2011

What kind of analyst? Securities analyst? Yes, with the right training and credentials. Psychoanalyst? I would guess that requires a license. Statistical analyst? Have at it. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 13, 2011

p.s. - meant to say 'legal analsyt'

Oct. 13, 2011

I would think someone with a law degree who couldn't pass the bar could become a paralegal after taking the required courses. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 13, 2011

I would think someone with a law degree who couldn't pass the bar could become a paralegal after taking the required courses.

A law scholl grad has 10 times the legal knowledge of a paralegal. Maybe 20 times, they need not take any course.

Many LICENSED lawyers who cannot find work as attorneys after LS graduation-well over 50% pof ALL LS grads today cannot find work- try to get jobs as paralegals. Firms will not hire a LS grad as a paralegal, licensed or not, they know they will quit.

Oct. 13, 2011

Fifty percent of law grads can't find jobs? Sounds high to me but I won't argue the point. Best, Don bauder

Oct. 13, 2011

Actually 50% is probbaly low-I would bet it is well above 50%.

Remember, there are now 200 ABA accredited law schools, that is not counting all the unaccredited law schols we have here in CA, at least another 10 or 15.

Thomas Jefferson LS here in SD is currently being sued-class action- by one of their law grads who graduated near the top of her class 3 years ago- THREE YEARS AGO!!!!....and after 3 years has never been employed as a lawyer.

Remember, this is not a student who was in the bottom 50%, or the bottom 75%, she was an editor of the schools law journal and graduated near the top of her class, she was a top student (if SHE cannot find a lawyer job it is highly doubtful any TJLS grad can);

http://abovethelaw.com/2011/05/lawsuit-of-the-day-class-action-filed-against-thomas-jefferson-school-of-law/

And if you think that I am over tsating the problem, read this;

http://abovethelaw.com/2011/10/fifteen-more-law-schools-to-be-hit-with-class-action-lawsuits-over-post-grad-employment-rates/#more-101519

Oct. 13, 2011

but can they label themselves as a 'legal analyst' and be paid for that...?

Oct. 13, 2011

I don't know, but I would think so. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 13, 2011

but can they label themselves as a 'legal analyst' and be paid for that

Sure they could. There is no legal or licensing requirement to hold yoruself out as a "legal analyst".

There was a disbarred lawyer (Morrison and Foerster firm) from many years ago, and she had expertiese in municipal law and was the city attorney for a number of small So Cal cities. After she weas disabrred she was able to get these cities to hire her under a title similar to the one you have described. She was charging the same rate she did as a licensed lawyer, about $200 an hour. I forgot her name. I don't think the State Bar was able to do anything. If I remember her name I will post it.

FOUND HER! It was Cristeta Paguirigan, she was a "litigation specialist" with South Gate. Disbarred but still performing legal services under a bogus title. She was indicted on another matter for practicing without a law license;

http://articles.latimes.com/2003/mar/22/local/me-klaparda22

Oct. 13, 2011

The State Bar of California doesn't have the muscle that some state bars have. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 13, 2011

The CA State Bar is a JOKE.

The people in charge are a joke. Former Bar President Sheldon Sloan and I got into it for him not doing his job. Had the biggest chip on his shoulder you could imagine, and dumber than a bag of rocks. I still told him off.

They are much like every other gov agency/employee, full of idiots. Gov is and always will be full of incompetent and substandard performance and ehtics. They are not sunject to the free market, as such their incompetence does not allow them to lose their jobs.

Oct. 13, 2011

You make a good point. But many parts of the private sector are not subject to free markets, either. Look at the CEOs who are paid obscene amounts of money for putrid performance. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 14, 2011

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