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One might think a compulsory need to practice law would lead to efforts to pass the bar exam, and Simon Banks tried at least 14 times. But when he got tired of studying and failing, Banks took matters into his own hands and held himself out to be an attorney — for more than two decades. Since the early 1980s, Banks has been selling his services as the head of what a client might consider a law firm. The names have fluctuated, including the Judge Banks Group and Dr. Simon Banks & Associates. All the while, Banks has been warring with the courts over his own insistence that, as a former D.C. administrative law judge, he is permitted to represent clients. He’s been punished by the courts four times for practicing without a license or falsely advertising his services in print and on the radio. The most recent case was decided June 14, when the D.C. Court of Appeals affirmed a 2004 contempt of court conviction by then-Superior Court Judge Noel Anketell Kramer, who sentenced Banks to six months in jail and a $4,000 fine for portraying himself as a lawyer. Banks claims he isn’t practicing law but is acting as a nonlawyer advocate before D.C. and federal administrative agencies for clients filing suit for job discrimination. But the Court of Appeals ruled he had violated a 1995 injunction that prohibits him from advertising his services without explicitly stating he is not a member of the D.C. Bar or licensed in any other jurisdiction. Banks didn’t represent himself during the appeal on the contempt conviction, but his court-appointed attorney Cynthia Nordone couldn’t be reached for comment.
Nathan Carlile can be contacted at [email protected].

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