(Fact Check) Did Barack and Michelle Obama “surrender” their law licenses to avoid ethics charges?


blatant-lieWe were asked if Barack and Michelle Obama surrendered their law licenses to avoid ethics charges? This is a very old internet rumor that goes back to at least 2012. It has been debunked by, Snopes and Truth or Fiction.

This is the chain email that was spread:

Chain email: I knew they had both lost their law license, but didn’t know why until I read this.

This is legit. I check it out at Stands for Illinois Attorney Registration And Disciplinary Committee. It’s the official arm of lawyer discipline in Illinois; and they are very strict and mean as hell. (Talk about irony.) Even I, at the advanced age of almost 65, maintain (at the cost of approximately $600/year) my law license that I worked so hard and long to earn. Big surprise.

Former Constitutional Law Lecturer and U.S. President Makes Up Constitutional Quotes During State Of The Union (SOTU) Address.

Consider this:

1. President Barack Obama, former editor of the Harvard Law Review, is no longer a “lawyer”. He surrendered his license back in 2008 in order to escape charges he lied on his bar application. A “Voluntary Surrender” is not something where you decide “Gee, a license is not really something I need anymore, is it?” and forget to renew your license. No, a “Voluntary Surrender” is something you do when you’ve been accused of something, and you ‘voluntarily surrender” your license five seconds before the state suspends you.

This is Fact Check’s response:

No. A court official confirms that no public disciplinary proceeding has ever been brought against either of them, contrary to a false Internet rumor. By voluntarily inactivating their licenses, they avoid a requirement to take continuing education classes and pay hundreds of dollars in annual fees. Both could practice law again if they chose to do so.

Based on many credible fact checkers debunking this, we rate it this claim a BLANTANT LIE.


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15 Comments on (Fact Check) Did Barack and Michelle Obama “surrender” their law licenses to avoid ethics charges?

  1. Keith Rings // January 7, 2017 at 10:12 am //

    So you say….time will tell …I believe a lawyer only gove up a lic out of necessity or self preservation….so if neither pic up their lic that they spent so much time and tax payer money on to get ….What would you conclude is a valid reason…?

  2. The point is we don’t know the reason. The fact check is looking at the claim that they did it to avoid ethics charges. There isn’t evidence for that at this time so it is a false claim until proven otherwise.

  3. Judging by the 2 ignorant comments here, you can’t fix stupid. I don’t think either one spent tax payer money to go to school, they didn’t wait till he was president to go. Next, yes it costs money and you have to go for continuing education to maintain your license and you have to pay state bar fees, maintain malpractice insurance etc. If you’re not going practice law because, say you win TWO elections, why would you pay for all that for a license you’re not using? Many lawyers do this when not practicing. But these are facts, and obviously facts elude the other 2 commenters.

  4. Mike, Michelle was licensed in 1989. She surrendered her license in 1993. That was long before any thought of winning an election. Don’t you find it even a little odd that someone who went to school for a long time and spent a lot of money to do so would surrender that license after less than 4 years? I don’t think CEUs are that costly or burdensome. Doesn’t seem to pass the smell test.

  5. In order to keep abreast and current the license must be renewed by continuing education and payments to the Bar Association, periodically. After being away from practicing law for several years, am I to believe that all an errant attorney must do is to go back to practicing law? No, Continuing Education to bring ESQ up to date, right? Yes that does mean intense time and expense to take and pass the Bar all over again, right? Or, can he just step into any old law office and say he’s a licensed attorney after making up all of the continuing education he missed out on while on sabbatical? Just back from taking a little time off, like maybe eight to ten years?

  6. I have an inactive bar license in the state of Georgia. I am no longer practicing law (I quit to parent and homeschool my special needs child ten years ago). I didn’t (and don’t) see the need to pay for an active license and pay (and find childcare to attend) CLE classes when I have no intention of practicing law. And yes, all I need to do to activate my license is send a check to the state bar of Georgia. It’s not a big deal at all.

  7. First of all to go to School for so many years as a African American Woman i can’t imagine how Proud she must have been.. and being a mom of two girls to give that HUGE $

  8. Jim Morris // April 18, 2017 at 11:16 am //

    Read the facts a little more carefully. No formal ethics charges were ever FILED. That does not necessarily mean there was no “deal” made to not file ethics charges if obama surrendered his law license. He could have surrendered his license to avoid the charges being filed; and there would be no record. Did this happen? I have no idea. But to say he did not surrender because of ethics violations based solely upon the fact no charges currently appear in the IADC records is not conclusive.

  9. I would say that a written legal record is a better form of evidence than speculation, Mr. Morris. If the IADC records are not conclusive, I fail to see what else could be in this case.

  10. Cindy Spencer // May 22, 2017 at 10:31 pm //

    Could you please reference which court official confirmed that that it is not true, please.

  11. Anonymous // June 2, 2017 at 6:47 pm //

    LOL, coping the same thing Snopes and the other “fact” checking websites. Reminds me of the parroting the MSM does. Claiming it’s false because Snopes (proven to be biassed) is not a claim that it’s false.

  12. No he lied and lied to us about where he was born and that he is muslim

  13. They both lost thier law license because they lied. Just because he get it up before he got busted doesn’t make it any better or right.

  14. I guess facts no longer matter, it seems that people will just make up their minds based on what they want to believe even if there is zero evidence what so ever of any wrong doing. You can point them to fact checking sites, but if the result isn’t what they want to hear they scream BIAS and it’s usually the folks on the right doing the screaming. It amazes me how tightly closed those tiny little minds are! We are living in an age of “customized news” and it’s seriously starting to piss me off!

  15. C’mon if you know the right people and grease the right palms you can cover-up and make-up anything. Just ask the Clinton’s. And because you say it’s a false report makes it so. NOT SO. We all see the bias.

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