Category: Attorney Profiles

Allison B. Margolin quoted in ABA Journal

On September 1 ,2012, Allison B. Margolin was featured by the American Bar Association: A Dope Niche: With State Law Changes, It’s Pot That’s Hot.

Full text reproduced below, original article by G.M. Filisko for the American Bar Association.

W. Michael Walz calls himself a pot lawyer. But he doesn’t represent drug dealers—and there’s a difference.

“I don’t defend people who are in business to make money,” explains the Phoenix-based solo who began specializing in marijuana cases in 1996 and launched the site PotLawyer.com in ’98.

“Those people carry weapons and sometimes are affiliated with organized crime, and I don’t have anything to do with them. Mostly, I defend mom and pop-type clients who may grow some and sell a little bit to handle tough financial times but didn’t set a financial objective of selling marijuana.”

Walz isn’t the only lawyer pushing his pot practice. “LA’s dopest attorney” is Allison Margolin, a partner at Margolin & Lawrence in Beverly Hills, Calif. She represents growers and distributors in cases related to the sale, production and transportation of marijuana. “We represent big-time dealers—or people who operate medical marijuana clinics,” she says. “People who are relatively smart realize they can run a marijuana-based business, but they have to do it through a medical contact.”

That’s because in California since 1996 and Arizona since 2010, weed smoking has been legal with an approved doctor’s recommendation; growing and dispensing is also permitted under certain circumstances. But use outside medical parameters can lead to harsh penalties. In Arizona, Walz says, possession of any amount of the herb is a felony.

Getting ribbed by colleagues comes with the territory. Since she’s open about lighting up legally, Margolin is sometimes the butt of digs from opponents asking whether she’s high. “But a lot of lawyers want to get into marijuana law,” she says. “Marijuana is a cash crop, and the marijuana economy is good. Marijuana defendants today are really the only people who can afford a defense.”

Both lawyers consider pot representation a calling. Margolin’s father, defense attorney Bruce Margolin, has advocated for marijuana law reform since the 1960s. She knew by age 12 she wanted to become a lawyer advocating for drug law reform. “My essay for getting into Harvard Law School,” she says, “was on the constitutional right to alter our consciousness.”

A HIGHER CAUSE

Walz joined the niche later in life. His first such case involved securing the release of a jailed AIDS patient who was starving to death. Smoking pot was the only way his client could beat nausea and keep food down—and that was, of course, a jail no-no. “The judge seemed more than willing to let him die,” recalls Walz. “She asked me what assurance I could give her that he wouldn’t continue to violate the law if she let him out.”

After Walz alerted local media, the prosecutor agreed to the prisoner’s release. He died about two years later at his mother’s home.

“I felt very good about what I’d done,” Walz says. “I’d been a criminal defense lawyer for many years and had represented child molesters and people like that. Eventually you’re going to be on your deathbed looking back on your career. I hope to be able to say I made society a better place.”

MARGOLIN & LAWRENCE

Meet the attorneys of Margolin and Lawrence. We are a law firm built around the idea of collaboration. When you hire this firm, not only do you hire Allison B. Margolin or J. Raza Lawrence – you hire the entire team. All of the attorneys at our office are knowledgeable and will be able to help you in all of your legal issues.

Allison B. Margolin, Esq. 

Allison Margolin is a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles and was an Adjunct Professor of Law at West Los Angeles Law School. She was on the April 2010 cover of California Lawyer magazine and gave an interview.

She is a graduate of Harvard Law School and earned her B.A. at Columbia University with a degree in Political Science and a Certificate in Writing.

She was profiled on the front page of both the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Daily Journal in 2006 and was recently featured in Hustler Magazine for her work in medical marijuana law.

She has been quoted in magazines ranging from the Los Angeles Daily News, the Los Angeles Times West, LA Weekly, New Yorker, and US Weekly. In addition to Allison’s legal practice, she maintains a written blog, produces videos about well-known legal cases, and has written for the Los Angeles Daily News on such issues as Paris Hilton’s DUI debacle.

Allison has also garnered much praise on the internet and radio, and has received accolades for her unique marketing. In 2004, Allison worked as a legal consultant on the reality jury show “Second Verdict”. She has been featured on the Anderson Cooper Blog, Cal Lawyer, Wall Street Journal blog (twice), and the Jewish Journal. 

J. Raza Lawrence, Esq.

Raza graduated from Harvard Law School in 2003, where he served as an executive editor of the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy. From November 2004 to July 2009, Raza worked as an associate in the Los Angeles office of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, where he practiced general litigation, with extensive experience representing individuals, corporations and law firms in cases involving allegations of legal malpractice, employment discrimination, wage-and-hour infractions, products liability, securities fraud, stock options backdating, and First Amendment violations.

Mr. Lawrence received his undergraduate degree with majors in philosophy and physics from Washington University in St. Louis, where he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and received the Steven Schwarzschild Prize in Philosophy. After graduating from Harvard Law School, Mr. Lawrence completed a clerkship with the Honorable Morris Sheppard Arnold of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

Mr. Lawrence has a longstanding interest in protecting civil liberties and individual rights, and has previously worked for the American Civil Liberties Union, the Cato Institute, and the Center for Individual Rights. Mr. Lawrence grew up in Madison, Wisconsin.