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Legal Ethics

A ‘Nigerian Nightmare’: Foreign Lawyer Handled Hundreds of Cases Before Disbarment for UPL

Posted Apr 10, 2012 6:35 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A Nigerian law grad with a foreign law license handled hundreds of cases in the Detroit area before he was disbarred last month for unauthorized practice of law.

Gbenga Anjorin had a special license in Michigan to advise clients on Nigerian law, the Detroit Free Press reports. He received a “P number,” however, that identifies Michigan lawyers and used it to practice law for three years.

Using that number, Anjorin handled more than 50 court-assigned cases, hundreds of DUIs and a few civil suits, the story says. He also attended some court hearings for accused underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and told reporters he was an observer for the Nigerian government. He was found out when an opposing lawyer in a civil case involving kola nuts filed an ethics complaint over what she believed to be questionable documents.

Presiding criminal courts Judge Timothy Kenny of Wayne County says court files are being examined to identify Anjorin’s clients. So far, six clients have been found who are in prison; five want to stick with their plea deals and a sixth is thinking it over. "Mr. Anjorin is our Nigerian nightmare," Kenny told the newspaper.

At a disciplinary hearing in December, Anjorin said he was one of the county’s leading DUI lawyers, and he believed could take U.S. cases involving laws that were similar to Nigerian laws. He told the Free Press he is appealing his disbarment (PDF).

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