Caroline Kennedy’s Attorney Registration is ‘Delinquent’

Caroline Kennedy has let her attorney registration lapse. Again. And, just like the first time, it could be highly embarrassing to her.

In February, there was a burst of news reports that Kennedy was in line to become the next U.S. Ambassador to Japan. That burst became a torrent this morning with, among others, the New York Times, reporting independently that Kennedy is “close” to being announced as the next ambassador to Japan.

In 2008, Politico reported that Kennedy’s attorney registration in New York State was “delinquent.” At the time, then NY Governor David A. Paterson was weighing whether to appoint her on an interim basis to replace Hillary Clinton who was incoming President Barack Obama’s choice to become Secretary of State.

Kennedy, a 1988 graduate of Columbia University School of Law, is listed on the New York State court system’s directory of registered attorneys as being “delinquent.” Kennedy was admitted to the bar in 1990, according to the directory.

David Bookstaver, a spokesperson for the court system, confirmed that Kennedy has not kept her attorney registration current since November, 2010.

All lawyers practicing in New York are required to register with the court system, and their names, business affiliation and contact information are available to the public through the directory (

Every two years, attorneys practicing in New York are required to re-register and pay a $375 fee. They are also required to certify that they have taken the required number of continuing legal education courses during the prior two years. According to the court system, there were 166,000 registered attorneys at the end of 2012 listing their business or home addresses as being in New
York. Another 113,000 lawyers are listed as being registered but being located outside of New York State.

In 2008, Politico reported that, after a four-year lapse, Kennedy had re-upped.

The sad thing is that Kennedy could have avoided this unwanted attention by “retiring” from the practice of law. Court system rules permit attorneys to “retire” by affirming that they do not intend to ever practice law again. Had she done so, she would have been listed as “registered” rather than “delinquent” but exempt from the fee and continuing legal education requirements. She has apparently not practiced law for many years, and she can no longer be reached at the company she listed in her 2008 registration. That company was Manhattan-based ESI Design, which was founded by her husband Edwin Schlossberg.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment left last night. Esther Newberg, Kennedy’s agent for her latest children’s book, has not yet responded to a message left earlier this morning.



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One response to “Caroline Kennedy’s Attorney Registration is ‘Delinquent’

  1. Alan Flacks

    Interesting story, but this infraction is somewhat de minimis. [Bloomberg’s T.L.C. commish David Yassky (his “reward” for backing extension of term limits) was delinquent for four years. An embarrassment for a City commish.] Many attorneys–and judges–forget to update their records within a month of a change during the two-year interim period between registrations. And some consider the $375 fee “legal extortion.” That fee, up from the original $50, is used for a lawyers’ fund for client protection ($60); indigent legal service funding ($50); an assistance fund for legal services (mainly “18B” attys.) ($25). The rest is for internal court funding for attorney licensing, attorney registration, lawyer exams, disciplinary committees et cet. Much of this can be seen on the O.C.A. website under atty. reg. FAQs.
    If retired and not practicing law (and exempted from the fee and C.L.E.), attorneys must still re-register every two years re-affirming their retirement. This regulation is often not understood or known to retirees. [ . . . all New York attorneys are required to file the biennial registration form, either with payment of the $375.00 fee, or with a certification of retirement. . . . Section 468-a of the Judiciary Law and 22 NYCRR Part 118 of the Rules of the Chief Administrator of the Courts require the biennial registration of all attorneys admitted in the State of New York, whether they are resident or non-resident, active or retired, or practicing law in New York or anywhere else.] A retired attorney and attorney emeritus (separate requirements) may practice sans compensation. Interested readers will find reading the O.C.A. website of value.