Barack & Michelle Gave Up Law License

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In the United States, admission to the bar by a particular court system is needed to practice law in that system. Each U.S. state and similar jurisdiction (e.g. territories under federal control) sets its own rules for bar admission (or privilege to practice law).
In general, a prospective lawyer will need to pass a state-administered bar exam after earning a Juris Doctor degree from a law school approved by the state in which he/she wants to practice. Typically, there is also a character and fitness evaluation, which includes a background check. [Source]
In other words, becoming a licensed attorney is an arduous process. The legal education consists of these stages:

  • A Bachelor’s degree, often in the Pre-law major
  • Law school
  • Trial practice
  • Legal clinic
  • Graduation with a Juris Doctor degree

Then there are the exams:

  • The rigorous LSAT (Law School Admission Test)  
  • The even more daunting Bar Examination. (Two former students of mine, both very bright, each took the bar exam 4 to 6 times before they finally passed.)

Given how arduous it is to acquire a law license, like other professionals (such as physicians), most attorneys renew their license even when they are retired from active legal work. License renewal is easy and simple: you pay a fee and, in some states, take a few units of continuing legal education. Letting your license lapse, however, means that you’d have to re-take the bar exam to get re-admitted.
Lawyers let their license lapse for very compelling reasons, often to avoid or escape censure or outright criminal charges. As an example, Bill Clinton kept active his law license even when he became president. In 2000 the Arkansas Supreme Court’s Committee on Professional Conduct called for Clinton’s disbarment, saying he lied about his affair with Monica Lewinsky. In January 2001 Clinton reached an agreement under which he was ordered to pay $25,000 in fines to Arkansas state’s bar officials and his Arkansas law license was suspended for five years. The agreement came on the condition that Whitewater prosecutors would not pursue federal perjury charges against him. Clinton was suspended by the Supreme Court in October 2001, and, facing disbarment from that court, Clinton resigned from the Supreme Court bar in November.
So it is most curious that Barack and Michelle Obama both gave up their law licenses.
Michelle Obama attended Princeton University, graduating cum laude with a B.A. in Sociology and African-American Studies in 1985. She then attended Harvard Law School and earned a J.D. in 1988 before returning to her hometown Chicago to work at the law firm Sidley Austin where she met and was assigned to mentor a summer associate named Barack. Subsequently, she worked as part of the staff of Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley as his Assistant and as Assistant Commissioner of Planning and Development. In 1996, she became, first, the Associate Dean of Student Services at the University of Chicago; then, Vice President for Community and External Affairs.
The above information on Michelle Obama is from Wikipedia. Conspicuously missing from the Wikipedia entry is the fact that she voluntarily gave up her law license.
The website of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois (( says that Michelle Obama was admitted to the Illinois State Bar Association on May 12, 1989, but she is no longer authorized to practice law because she voluntarily surrendered (“voluntarily inactive”) her license on some unspecified date for unspecified reason(s).
Here’s a screen shot of the ARDC page on Michelle Obama:

For his part, Barack Hussein Obama was admitted to the Illinois State Bar Association on December 17, 1991. He too is no longer authorized to practice law because he had “voluntarily retired” on an unspecified date for unspecified reason(s).
Here’s a screen shot of the ARDC page ( on Barack Obama:

According to bloggers Johnny Alamo and James4America, Michelle “voluntarily” gave up her law license in 1993, just five years after she got the license; Barack “voluntarily retired” from law practice in 2007. The left-leaning denies that Michelle had “voluntarily surrendered” her law license, and insists both Michelle and Barack had merely put their law license on “inactive” status. Snopes, however, does not explain what’s the difference between Michelle’s “voluntarily inactive” and Barack’s “voluntarily retired.”
Nor does Snopes inform its readers that Michelle Obama was ordered by the court to put her law license on inactive status. An earlier version of the ARDC webpage on her ( said this about Michelle: “No malpractice report required as attorney is on court ordered inactive status.” Here’s a screen shot of the web page at the time of Chelsea Shilling’s WorldNetDaily article of August 4, 2009:

By the time I accessed the same webpage yesterday, September 15, 2010, the sentence “No malpractice report required as attorney is on court ordered inactive status” had disappeared. A day later, that webpage ( is scrubbed of all information on Michelle Obama. See my update, Illinois Supreme Court Coverup For Obamas.”
H/t beloved fellows Joseph FascianiMay, and Richard!

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0 responses to “Barack & Michelle Gave Up Law License

  1. Steve, you are exactly right. Licenses are too hard to come by to give them up. Two family members, who are retired MD’s, keep their licenses current. I smell a rat here!

  2. I’ve seen this report and suspect there is less than meets the eye.
    As a writer, I still keep up my license to practice in California, but for many the mandadory CLE hours are a bit of a bother. There is an “inactive” status that keeps you in the club, lowers the dues and excuses MCLE.
    A politician who has no expectation of ever practicing law might resign from the bar in order to avoid being held up for scruitiny for future behavior. Politicians routinely do things that, while nominally legal, could subject an attorney to a reprimand from the bar. So…opting out might be a preemptive move. If there is a fire behid the smoke (as in one rumor that OB had said something false on his application that came to light), the secret won’t last long under pressure. There really isn’t all that much confidentiality re Bar disciplinary investigations.

  3. snopes is not a reliable resource

  4. When was the last time any of you CONSPIRACY GENIUSES remember a sitting President who was an attorney or their spouse carrying on a LAW PRACTICE while in the office_Duh !
    Really, try growing a brain, Hell, better yet, try growing up !

    • This post is not about the Obama’s maintaining a law practice, it is about maintaining their licenses. Instead of name calling, try addressing the point at hand.

      • Troll! Be gone with you and your forked tongue and diseased mind! Spew your putridness elsewhere for this is the realm of truth, whether you choose to drink from TRUTH or bedeviled brews, is your choice or the choice of your disease, but we will have NONE of it HERE! FOLLOW THE FACTS!

    • Lou, you pathetic man,
      If you can’t even read, you really shouldn’t go around insulting people. If you’ve actually bothered to read my post, you’ll see the following that rebuts your comment:
      Bill Clinton kept active his law license even when he became president. In 2000 the Arkansas Supreme Court’s Committee on Professional Conduct called for Clinton’s disbarment, saying he lied about his affair with Monica Lewinsky. In January 2001 Clinton reached an agreement under which he was ordered to pay $25,000 in fines to Arkansas state’s bar officials and his Arkansas law license was suspended for five years. The agreement came on the condition that Whitewater prosecutors would not pursue federal perjury charges against him. Clinton was suspended by the Supreme Court in October 2001, and, facing disbarment from that court, Clinton resigned from the Supreme Court bar in November.
      It must be terrible to be you — not just physically blind, but mentally & spiritually blind as well.

      • Illinois attorney

        I came across this as an Illinois attorney doing an internet search. Clearly, you are all uneducated people who don’t know what they’re talking about. The requirements for maintaining law licenses have increased. You need to meet mandatory Continuing Legal Education requirements each reporting period. You all would be the first to shout foul if it was discovered that Michelle or Barack were not keeping up their licenses. This is just a rant by uneducated hicks. Asinine. You are all idiots. God have mercy on our country.

        • Well Mr. Smarty pants, thanks for that brilliant piece of education!
          As someone who has a certification in my field, I’m fully aware of Continuing Education Units (CEUs), as us hicks up here in the Seattle area call them.
          My guess is Queen Michelle is too busy on “business trips” to Africa and Europe to bother to meet those CLE requirements.

        • Uneducated hicks? so typical of elitist leftists. I’d be happy to compare my educational and professional accomplishments with yours. How about a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley, and Full Professor? Let’s see yours.
          BTW, what’s an “Illinois attorney” doing in San Jose, California — the location of your IP address?

  5. The Obama’s are classic Manchurian Candidates. There are no other equivalent examples. The other (very valid) point to note is that lawyers do not actually HAVE a license to practice law. Rather, it is really a guild card no different than union memberships like the “Actor Guild” membership of Hollywood. Just ask an attorney to show you his/her license. Don’t buy into the Attorney Bar number as being a license. It is not! The Attorney Bar is the original union controlled by the government. This, in definition, is a form of fascism. Black’s Law dictionary defines a license as a privilege granted by the State that would otherwise be a right. In court a non-lawyer can represent an individual, that is, if you expose their fraud. The deception is deep and wide. The Obama phenomenon is the apex.

  6. Its funny how people stoop to the low depths of calling some of us “conspiracy theorists” when there is one unfolding right in front of your eyes. Truth is most sitting president’s do not keep their license active, however everything about this administration and the wall street personnel involved all have done an A+ job of decimating our country and yet the sheeple still want to protect him. He has lied about every single thing he promised, before getting elected, and his arrogance has driven millions of people against him and straight to the streets with nothing in their pockets. Michelle and Obama are not even confirmed as being anything real no matter what they say since ALL their records have been sealed.
    He is a liar and this is nothing more than using his power to continue to cover up his true background and his true heritage. They have to do this the smarter people in public are realizing we have an imposter in the office and more than one person in his family have confirmed that. I would rather be a “conspiracy theorist” anyday as opposed to some member of the sheeple clan getting their information straight from the bowl with the blue water, which they like to call FOX News.

  7. Didn’t the guy who discovered the “real” passport of Barack Obama die under strange circumstances afterward? Maybe when told to do something, the choice to scrub is an easy one, considering potential alternatives. We have a gov’t of liars, thieves, murderers and their bankster buddies. The US appears to be in its death throes, since there is no respect for the truth or The People who deserve it.

  8. We are living in amazing times. It will be extremely difficult for most. I do know this about money, as history always repeats itself, those that have it now, will not have it tomorrow. The middleclass when we fall, they all will fall…& when you fall from the top, you fall very far down so, the poor, who know about being poor & some of the middleclass will survive but, the rich ? Will go mad & kill themselves before they figure out how to survive. This is our fate right now, it is going to get REAL tough from now now on Folks. All I can say is buy & save as much food & heat source you can..

  9. It would appear that there are too many truth and fact issues with the Soetero’s.
    I for one will be elated when both of these traitors are out and the rest of the traitors are out also. I agree with some of you why would you placate something you worked so hard for?? The government that rules now has to go and be done with. I have never seen swill like these liars, drunks, and parasites who take our money and then treat us like dirt while doing it. I say the people elected to these offices should make not more than the people who put them there!! Enough of this. Then see how fast they do not run for office. This is for the Soetero’s I have never been more ashamed to be an American since you people took office!

  10. Weird, I guess they had to give it up to get into office?

  11. I cannot imagine why an attorney would want to give up their license to practice in any state! We know they can go on inactive status, pay a much lower bar membership price and sometimes, depending on the state, not even have to turn in CLE credits. I find the court-ordered issue involving Michelle most noteworthy!
    Lou, get your head on straight! Seems like there is some projection coming out of your analysis! What makes you think that anybody is relishing in conspiracy theories or desiring to even think in this manner! It is the evidence that is coming out, the truth on its own face, that tell us something is amuck! The evidence indicts in and of itself!

  12. Pingback: Top Posts —

  13. I am a licensed attorney. While I am not licensed in Illinois, I know many who are and they explained the situation of the Obamas’ Law Licenses. Here is the link to the ADDC page with Status Definitions:
    All States’ Bar membership, licensing, and nearly any other lawyerly activity is controlled by that state’s Supreme Court. So when an attorney’s license is changed it is always by order of the Supreme Court. When an attorney request that his status is changed it is listed as: Voluntarily (inactive, retired, etc) by ( Supreme) Court Order. The definitions are clear that the retired and inactive status can become active simply by declaring that intention to the court and paying the necessary yearly fee.
    Disciplined or Disbarred attorneys are no longer listed because they are no longer attorneys, but a record exists of the discipline at the Supreme Court. A same is true of a “surrendered” license would either fall into the same category (if done to avoid disbarment) or would be listed as Removed-(failure to pay fee or not do educational credits).
    I am not a fan of the Obamas nor do I criticize the author for a misunderstanding of the terms. I do not claim to have knowledge of the specifics of either one’s license or record but based on the screen shots and the ARDC definitions and a little Illinois Lawyer guidance, it would appear they have done what any non practicing attorney would do to keep his license but not have to take education credits, maintain trust accounts, subject to discipline, maintain malpractice insurance and any other reason. Regarding a cover-up, well the author knows better than I but the status listed for each is not a surrender or a disciplinary action.

    • Thanks for the clarifications, rk.
      But did you see the screen shot of the ARDC page on Michelle Obama which was viewed by Chelsea Shilling for her WND article of August 4, 2009, in which the ARDC said: ““No malpractice report required as attorney is on court ordered inactive status” ?
      I’ve reproduced that screen shot HERE.
      Under what circumstances in Illinois would an attorney be forced to go to inactive status because of a “court order”?
      I would also appreciate it if you’d explain the difference(s) between “voluntarily inactive” and “voluntarily retired.”

      • The ADRC site has the definitions below and they match what I was told by Illinois colleagues. To check, I searched a friend I know was admitted in Illinois but now practices elsewhere so she went inactive but did not give up her License in any way. It said the exact same as you were questioning and it seems to jibe with all I could learn. Here are the definitions from ARDC : (edited for space, not content)[ ] contain my input
        Inactive: Lawyers who register as inactive pay a yearly fee… Inactive status lawyers may not practice law based upon their Illinois license [though if you are admitted in another state you may practice under that license] or hold themselves out as being so authorized. An inactive lawyer may resume active status by submitting written or online notification of the intent to do so…[these are decisions of the attorney so they may resume active status by declaring it and paying fee]
        Retired Retired lawyers pay no registration fee, and may not practice law based upon their Illinois license [see above] or hold themselves out as being so authorized. A retired lawyer may resume active status by submitting written or online notification of the intent to do so, and by paying full active fees for the registration year in question and for every other year in which the lawyer was registered as retired.
        Retired vs. Inactive is a difference in a yearly fee. Inactive pay yearly fee [reduced from active] and if they decide to practice, they pay the full fee for that year. Retired pay no fees, but if they come out of retirement, they pay full fees back to their retirement date to get current.
        As for the ‘court ordered’ language, everything effecting a lawyers status and ability to practice in a given state is governed by the Supreme Court of said state, so even if the decision on the status is voluntary, the court orders the change. the website has a list of disciplined and disbarred Illinois bar members. and if they were court ordered not to practice because they were “in trouble” they would not be in the lawyer search at all because they would not be considered lawyers.
        All of that said, I find it interesting that Barrack retired- based on what I know and the fee structure of having to pay full dues for every year you were retired should you change your mind versus the easier inactive. He retired because he never plans to practice law again, a least in Illinois. As far as I can tell he is admitted to no other State, so it was not a move with no plan to return (even then, everyone I know goes inactive, just in case) yearly fee is nominal vs multiple full year fees. He was selected, groomed, and appointed and this may indicate he knew a bit about his future, depending on when he sought that status – the site gives no indication of when he retired. Hope that helps, but I will answer anything else I can if you have more questions.

        • Thank you, rk, for explaining how “inactive” differs from “retired.” It is fascinating why Obama chose “retirement” over “inactivity”….
          The ARDC site does not give the year when Obama “voluntarily retired” from being a lawyer in Illinois, but a blogger says it was in 1997 — the year when his intent to run for the presidency was known. It is odd that someone who’s invested so much time & effort into becoming an attorney would retire at age 46!

  14. Once again, a controversy whipped up out of nothing.
    From the 2000 Annual Report on the ARDC website (
    “The amendments eliminated from Rule 756 the out-of-state registration category under which lawyers could pay a reduced fee if they did not reside, have an office in, or practice in Illinois, and deleted Rule 770, which had provided for a court-ordered inactive status that did not require annual registration or payment of any fee. At the same time, the amendments added to Rule 756 an inactive status registration category, which requires the payment of a reduced fee and annual registration, as well as a new retirement registration status, which requires no fee and no annual registration for lawyers. Lawyers who choose to register under either of those categories are not authorized to practice. The 10,400 attorneys who had previously registered as out-of-state had to choose either active, inactive or retired status. In addition, several hundred lawyers who were previously on court-ordered inactive status returned to active status and then chose one of the new registration categories, most often choosing retired status.
    As a result of the changes, the number of attorneys removed from the roll for reasons including nonpayment, death, discipline and retirement (previously counted as those who had transferred to Rule 770 inactive status) jumped from 993 in 1999 to 2,407 in 2000, including 1,943 attorneys who chose to register under the new retired status.”

  15. So many falsehood in this article

  16. What are the falsehoods Janet?????

  17. What’s the difference between the two phrases “court order” and “court approve?”

  18. Santorum’s suspension was for non-payment of a fee that would have allowed him to stay inactive, his campaign told HuffPost. He’s been inactive since 1994 and was finally suspended on April 2, 2010, board records show. The fee itself was nominal.

  19. Snopes was created by a couple of leftists (Barbara and David Mikkelson) in 1995, when the Clinton scandals were popping up like crawling-bamboo shoots, with the immediate main objective –much the same as and MediaMatters– to protect the Clintons, and with the general objective of “invalidating” (smear and discredit) anything that exposes the Left or leftists. The Mikkelsons are very clever; they address honestly anything not related in anyway to the Left; but but they distort and “invalidate” (smear and discredit) matters of significance related to exposing or condemning the Left and leftists. They made sure from the very start of their operation to gain a good reputation validating and invalidating anything unrelated to the Left, reputation they use as a fulcrum to do their clever leftist-operative work. Fortunately, increasing numbers of Americans are realizing that resorting to Snopes regarding matters related to the left is a self-invitation to getting duped.

  20. The stupidity of commanders on this site simply amazes me. Folks, there are THOUSANDS of attorneys who resign from the bar or switch to inactive status every year. Why do they do this? Because if you are not practicing law, trying to maintain your “active” status is an expensive and time consuming pain in the ass. It costs several hundred bucks every year to renew your license. It also costs another few hundred bucks to take those damn CLE courses, and those courses also soak up a lot of time. I assume the president and first lady have better things to do than sit around taking CLE courses on the weekend. I am currently a practicing attorney and admitted to the NY bar, but let me tell you, as soon as I get a non-lawyer job, I am switching to inactive status asap. My wallet and calendar will be relieved. Stop trying to build a conspiracy when there is none. Just about every attorney out there will think the writer of this article is an ignorant clownshow, not to mention the commenters. With all the legitimate policy complaints one could make about the Obama Administration (ie, cost of Health care reform, ineffectiveness of stimulus bills, Afghan policy, firing of McChrystal), it is nothing short of embarrassing to read this uneducated crap.

  21. I agree with Circus when he says that there are many, many, MANY other reasons to indict, nay IMPEACH President Obama. His many inconsistencies in personal history are not impeachable offences, but his other activities as President that are downright unconstitutional, are. We as responsible citizens of our beloved country must focus on defeating not only Obama in November, but his whole regime ! Clear out the whole Senate and House. Remember the only cure for the dreded disease Gonnareha Electum, is the “antibiotic”, Vote ‘Emout.

  22. Ken Kellogg-Smith

    Although Mr. Obama cannot practice law in any state or federal jurisdiction within the United States of America, he definitely can — and has — practiced International Law with the mantle of being the President of the United States as his sole authority for doing so. And so, he had declared, as President of our country and despite and contrary to the fundamental principles of self government declared by our Founding Fathers in their “Declaration of Independence”, the enabling act that established the “United States of America” and all its subsequent laws, a Declaration that is our nation’s first, principal, and most sacred act of legislation, that since HE believes that Crimea’s popular referendum, vote, their subsequent act of secession from the government and people of Ukraine and their union as a federal republic within the Russian Federation was, in HIS words, “illegal” by not being in compliance with both international and Ukrainian law in HIS understanding of those laws, that he is as President of the United States therefore authorized to inflict punishment on the Russian people for ACCEPTING the plea of the majority of the people of Crimea and ALLOWING those people to become an autonomous republic (along with other autonomous republics in the Federation) within the Russian Federation. To punish the Russian people for NOT following HIS legal interpretation of international and Ukrainian law, he has imposed a full year of punitive financial and economic sanctions on the peoples of the Russian Federation, with an option to continue those sanctions if the Russian people refuse to capitulate to HIS demands. As a result of his disdain for the principles stated in our own Declaration of Independence he had bloodied his hands with the blood of more than 5,500 men, women, and children of Russian-speaking south eastern Ukrainians who have been killed by the Obama-supported Ukrainian military government’s troops and militia units. So think again if you believe that Barack Obama can’t practice law. Not only practice law, but he can be both judge and jury, and to impose financial and economic punishments on the peoples of any country he dislikes, and for whatever reasons he wishes.


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