California State Bar Argues for Law Licenses for the Undocumented

Maura Dolan, Los Angeles Times, June 19, 2012

An undocumented immigrant should be licensed to practice law even though his ability to work will be restricted, the state bar told the California Supreme Court on Monday.

The agency said Sergio C. Garcia, 35, had met all the requirements to become a lawyer and could work without pay or as an independent contractor if licensed. The granting of a law license does not confer a right to employment, the State Bar of California argued, and Garcia would be expected to act legally.

“While a license to practice law is necessary to obtain employment as an attorney, having a law license does not mean that the holder may be employed,” attorneys for the bar said in a written filing.

The argument came in response to a request from the state high court, which is examining whether Garcia’s undocumented status should prevent him from becoming licensed. The case is expected to attract a flurry of briefs from immigration rights activists because it will set a precedent.

Garcia came from Mexico as a toddler, returned to his homeland with his family when he was about 9 and reentered the country illegally with family members when he was 17.

He attended law school at Cal Northern School of Law and passed the bar examination on his first try. His father, who has obtained American citizenship, sponsored Garcia for a green card 18 years ago, but the application is still pending.


The state Supreme Court has not decided whether to hold a hearing on Garcia’s case before issuing a ruling.


Topics: , ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • This may be a good thing.   Let the upper classes get a little taste of unemployment caused by immigration.

    As a matter of fact, take it one step further: let anybody with a law degree from any foreign university, even if it is basically out of a Crackerjack box, automatically allowed to practice law in the US.     See how much support you get for that with all the lawyers in Congress.

    • This is the answer.  Just like the construction industry uses unlicensed workers, let’s use the mexicans to be our “Walmart Lawyers”  lower legal costs. And let’s not stop there. We pay too much to Hollywood stars, couldn’t we import some of those Indians from Bollywood? I have seen them on the internet and they look even better than our aging old liberal actors. And while we are at it, why put up with all of those nasty leftist clergy. Anyone can get their license over the internet to become a “priest” or even “bishop” if you pay enough. All of the ingrates that have ruined traditional America, let them have the full benefits!

  • The one good thing is that he can represent himself if he gets deported since he does not qualify for the illegal alien giveme from last friday.

  • Southern__Hoosier

     I’m sure this one individual is deserving, but that doesn’t mean 20 million illegals are deserving of exceptions to the law.

  • ageofknowledge

    He’s just going to be another La Raza Civil Right’s lawyer, imo, seeking amnesty and perks for illegals. “Our hands to Mexicans and our fists to crackers” is how these guys work, in my opinion.

    No thank you. Make him go to Mexico to practice law. He’s already a citizen there.

  • mobilebay

    Why not? We’ve already got someone who isn’t a natural-born citizen in the White House.

  •  He is just a criminal, he can practice in prison.

  • haroldcrews

    Citizenship is not a requirement for a law license.  There are many foreigners who live in other countries who are licensed to practice law in various US jurisdictions.  All you have to do is look up large international law firms and see there are attorneys licensed to practice in more than their home countries.  The requirements to be admitted to the Bar are for most of the US states a JD from an accredited law school or a foreign equivalent; have passed the bar exam for the jurisdiction that you look to practice; you’ve paid the necessary fees; passed an ethics exam; and do not have a legal impediment.  Presumably it’s the last one that is at issue.  Not all crimes disqualify a person from admission to the Bar.  But in this case the crime is admitted.  Furthermore it as yet has not be remedied in that he remains in the US illegally.  If a candidate to the Bar by their actions or express opinions show contempt for the law then he is unfit to pursue justice through the law.

  • Sloppo

    California should give him a law license that will enable him to illegally practice law in his home country, Mexico.  With all the drug-cartel violence down there, he could work for the rest of his life suing drug cartels for the damage they do to so many innocent people.  In a week or so, somebody else could pick up his work where he left off.

  • Because America is really suffering for a lack of lawyers. The typical practicing lawyer makes less money than the US Post Office letter carrier who delivers mail to his or her residence, and that’s not even counting the non-practicing but admitted-to-the-bar attorneys.

    A lawyer is by definition an officer of the judicial system of the state where he or she is licensed to practice law.  Outside of formal legislation, State Supreme Courts have ultimate executive control over state bars.  As such, a lawyer is not allowed to advise you to violate the law.

    The California Supreme Court just gave the go-ahead to make someone an officer of their bar who contradictorily is not allowed to advise people to violate laws, but at the same time whose very presence in the United States is a crime for every second he is here.  Nobody is screaming paradox?