Nigerian Man Practices Law In Michigan for Years With No License

I have received what I feel is more than my fair share of Nigerian scam letters. You know, the type of letter where the writer claims that they are in possession of some massive fortune, whether in gold bars or an inheritance from a distant relative. These usually take the form of an email, though I've received Facebook messages as well.

Sometimes the writer will be flying in to a local airport, or sometimes they will wire you the money. I'm not sure how the scam works, since they ask for readily available information, i.e. not bank accounts or SSN, etc., but I usually respond by letting them know that I am an attorney, and if knowing that they are still claiming to be the person they have told me? I've never received a follow up.

That's why, when I read this article about a Michigan "lawyer," I couldn't resist. Apparently, Gbenda Anjorin graduated from a law school in Nigeria, but was never fully licensed to practice law. It appears that Mr. Anjorin took advantage of a temporary license available for foreign lawyers and “leveraged [it] into an unauthorized, three-year legal career in criminal, civil and traffic courts around metro Detroit.”

After handling hundreds of DUI cases and court assigned cases, Anjorin was allegedly disbarred, and stated publicly that he would be appealing the disbarment.

Unauthorized practice of law is a crime. Aside from potentially jeopardizing hundreds of his clients' cases, he will potentially face jail time himself, depending on what he is charged with.

I would like to point out, however, that aside from these temporary licensures, which are typically limited to individual cases, states vary on additional ways that foreign lawyers can enter the practice. Sometimes lawyers can transfer scores from other state bar examinations, or present documentation of practicing in another state for a term of years, and there is always the potential for foreign lawyers to take the bar exam along with the rest of law practicing hopefuls. Thus, based on the information reported, it remains unclear whether Anjorin was completely "winging it," so to speak.

It seems as though any number of judges or other attorneys that he would have come into contact with would have noticed something was awry, unless he was particularly skilled at learning the relevant court procedures, let alone the substantive law. But perhaps these are things that he would have come the same as any other person who has had prior legal training.

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