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State bar announces suit against Riverside man who impersonated SF lawyer

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The State Bar of California has filed a lawsuit seeking seizure of the papers and winding up of the practice of a Riverside man who is criminally charged with impersonating a San Francisco lawyer with a similar name.

The bar announced the Riverside County Superior Court lawsuit at its San Francisco headquarters Wednesday.

Michael R. Robbins, 32, of Riverside, who is not a lawyer, is accused of impersonating Michael L. Robbins, an attorney who specializes in intellectual property law in the San Francisco office of a Chicago-based law firm.

Michael R. Robbins was charged in San Bernardino County Superior Court on Dec. 29 with 12 criminal counts, including three counts each of impersonating the other Michael Robbins, identity theft, filing false or forged documents, and practicing law without a license.

Those charges are pending, according to court records.

The Riverside man created business cards with the name of Michael L. Robbins, used his bar membership number and fraudulently practiced law in at least four civil cases in San Bernardino County Superior Court, according to the bar’s lawsuit.

The lawsuit asks the Riverside County Superior Court to take control of Robbins’s unauthorized law practice, order him to cease practicing law, and assign State Bar Chief Trial Counsel Steven Moawad to seize his client files, return the files to clients and notify clients that the practice is closed.

The procedure of having a court take control and designating a State Bar attorney as its agent in such cases is provided for by the state Business and Professions Code.

The lawsuit says Michael R. Robbins admitted to the fraud after he was arrested by a sheriff’s deputy on Nov. 8 following his appearance in one of the San Bernardino County Superior Court cases under the false identity.

The lawsuit says, “Until the court actually enters an order enjoining Robbins from continuing his unauthorized practice, there remains a concern he will continue or resume his illegal practice or otherwise continue to defraud the public and the courts.”

-By Julia Cheever, Bay City News

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