LOS ANGELES — — With her trademark “LOL” voice, attorney Gloria Allred was back in the spotlight Monday after the California Supreme Court ruled she was a “person with a right to a lawyer.”
Allred had argued she was not entitled to a “lonely” attorney, but a lower court judge had ruled she could have one, and she was able to get one anyway because of an arcane California law that allows people to receive a financial aid loan if they can’t afford an attorney.
The case has become a flashpoint for how lawyers are funded, what constitutes “lonesome” work and the ethics of attorneys who work in low-income communities.
But Allred said she was happy to have the “right” lawyer for her case because the court’s decision to overturn the lower court ruling means she won’t have to rely on a lawyer for an important case for months.
Allred said in a statement that she would appeal to the state Supreme Court, which had not yet ruled on the case, but was unlikely to hear her appeal.
The ruling was the first in California to uphold the right to attorney representation for indigent lawyers.
Allred, a lawyer in Santa Ana who lives in Los Angeles, had filed a lawsuit challenging a state law that bars people from having an attorney in bankruptcy.
She argued that under the law, her lawyers could have received financial aid because they would have been in financial need.
The California Supreme court agreed with her and ruled that her lawyers were entitled to financial aid under a state constitutional provision that provides for the right of a person to have an attorney if they cannot afford one.
The court said the law does not bar a lawyer from having a financial interest in a bankruptcy case, which Allred argued is unfair because her attorneys would have a financial stake in securing a debt relief agreement with creditors.
The appeals court ruling was not a surprise to attorneys who had expected a unanimous decision from the court, which has ruled against many of the biggest challenges to the bankruptcy laws of the past two decades.
But the ruling has brought a backlash from many of those same lawyers, including Allred.
She has been criticized for saying she is “the lone survivor of a class action” and for not recognizing the existence of the “Lol” voice of her lawyers.
All the other appeals court judges dissented, saying that she did not address the issue of whether she should have an independent lawyer in her case.
The Supreme Court did not give any specific reasons for its decision, and Allred has been outspoken in her criticism of the state’s bankruptcy laws, which have led to a surge in bankruptcies and lawsuits against the state.
In 2013, Allred and her husband, James, were forced to leave their home and go into bankruptcy protection because of a car accident.
Alliedred sued the state and was awarded more than $1 million in damages.
In October, the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that the state law prohibiting indigent attorneys from receiving loans does not apply to attorneys working for corporations and other businesses.
The state has since moved to allow some types of indigent attorney work to continue, including representing low-wage workers who are eligible for unemployment benefits.