IANAL: I Am Not A Lawyer (any more)

By , February 26, 2010

Update Juy 13, 2012: My resignation from the State Bar was accepted and approved by the Supreme Court of California. (Yes, that’s a Thing.)

Update February 2012: I have just submitted my resignation from the State Bar of California.

February 26, 2010: This week, I finally took a step that I’ve been considering for a decade: I changed my status from “active” to “inactive” with the State Bar of California.  That means that I cannot give legal advice, represent clients in court, or identify myself as an attorney entitled to practice law.

In 1989, I graduated from Boalt Hall (the law school at the University of California, Berkeley), passed the bar exam, and was admitted to practice law in California.  I worked for a small law firm for three years, before opening my own law office in Pleasanton in 1993, focusing exclusively on estate planning, probate and trust law.

And then came the Internet.  In late 1995, I created a web page to promote my law practice, and by late 1996 my web site was the most popular internet resource on California Estate Planning.  At about the same time, I discovered some dubious companies promising web-site owners money for advertising, and I created a separate web site identifying some of the crooks and con artists in  that nascent industry. By 1998, I earned more money from my “Online Advertising” web site than from my law practice.  In early 1997, I began doing consulting work for e-commerce startups, advising them on how to profitably sell online (initially focusing on “affiliate programs” and later “pay-per-click search”).

I stopped accepting new legal clients in 1999, and effectively closed my law office in 2000, although I maintained my office in an “executive suite” until last September. Each January for the past 10 years, I’ve considered switching from “active” to “inactive” status, but each time I chose to retain “active” status (and pay the $400 annual dues).  Finally, this year, I could no longer think of any reason to remain “active.”  I am seriously considering resigning entirely as a member of the State Bar of California, but for 2010 I’ve decided to only change my status to “inactive” (paying a reduced fee of $125).

As an “inactive” member of the bar, I cannot give legal advice, nor appear in court on behalf of clients, nor hold myself out as being entitled to practice law.  For all practical purposes, “I Am Not A Lawyer” (IANAL), this year.

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