New York Attorney General Letitia James and New York State Police Superintendent Kevin Bruen today announced the conviction and sentencing of Andrew Schnorr, 39, for practicing law without a license and defrauding New Yorkers in Buffalo. Despite never graduating from a law school nor passing a state bar exam, Schnorr posed as a licensed attorney and represented clients at legal proceedings. Schnorr, who previously pled guilty to Unauthorized Practice of Law (a Class E felony), was sentenced to 5 years’ probation and ordered to pay more than $7,800 in restitution.
“Not only does illegally practicing law without a license hurt people in need of legal services, it also weakens the public’s trust in our institutions,” said Attorney General James. “New Yorkers deserve to have confidence that the professionals representing them are properly educated, certified, and qualified to take on these important roles. When Andrew Schnorr betrayed that trust to line his own pockets, he harmed his clients and the entire legal system we rely on. Let today’s sentencing serve as a warning that fraud will never be tolerated in our state, and anyone who cheats our communities will be held accountable and brought to justice — bar none.”
“I commend the tireless work of our state police members and the Office of the Attorney General on this case,” said Superintendent Bruen. “Mr. Schnorr falsely portrayed a figure that people turn to for legal assistance and used their unsuspecting trust for his own selfishness and financial gain. May this sentencing serve as a reminder that no magnitude of fraud will be tolerated in New York state.”
Today’s conviction and sentencing are the results of a joint investigation by the Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau and the New York State Police. The investigation began in the summer of 2019 after OAG received complaints from an attorney concerning Schnorr’s lack of competence during a legal proceeding. The investigation ultimately revealed that Schnorr was in fact not a licensed attorney and that he had lied about graduating from New York University School of Law and about passing the bar exams in New York and California.
As outlined in the complaint during his arraignment earlier this year, Schnorr deceptively secured his job at a Buffalo law firm by submitting a resume with fake credentials, in which he falsely stated that he graduated from law school and was authorized to practice law in various states. He then worked as an associate attorney at the firm and was tasked with civil matters involving depositions and settlement conferences. Altogether, he represented more than nine clients at the law firm starting in 2019.
By law, attorneys must be licensed in New York state by the New York State Unified Court System’s Office of Court Administration (OCA). Prior to meeting or retaining an attorney, New Yorkers are encouraged to confirm whether an individual is an attorney by searching their license on OCA’s website. For legal representation outside of New York state, people should contact the respective state’s licensing authority to confirm whether an individual is licensed to practice law in that jurisdiction.
The OAG investigation was conducted by Detective Scott Barnes, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Antoine Karam and former Supervising Detective Richard Doyle. The Investigations Bureau is led by Chief Investigator Oliver Pu-Folkes. The OAG case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Liam A. Dwyer, with the assistance of Senior Analyst Robert Vanwey and Supervising Analyst Paul Strocko. The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton and Deputy Bureau Chief Joseph G. D’Arrigo. Both the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau and the Investigations Bureau are part of the Division for Criminal Justice, which is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General José Maldonado and overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.