FACT CHECK: Did Michelle Obama Surrender Her Law License Because Of Insurance Fraud?

Jonathan Fonti | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook more than 4,600 times claims former first lady Michelle Obama surrendered her license to practice law for committing insurance fraud.

Verdict: False

Obama has not been the subject of attorney disciplinary action. She voluntarily changed her law license status to “inactive.”

Fact Check:

A meme circulating on social media platforms shows an image of the former first lady, along with text superimposed over it that reads, “No other ‘first lady’ ever had to surrender their law license for insurance fraud.” (RELATED: Did Michelle Obama Recently Earn A Doctorate Degree In Law?)

But that claim doesn’t hold up. Had she committed insurance fraud and had to give up her law license as a result, there would have been multiple media reports about the incident, yet none could be found. The claim, which has been circulating online for years, has previously been debunked by other fact-checkers.

Obama earned a juris doctor from Harvard Law School in 1998, three years after finishing her bachelor’s degree at Princeton University. She was admitted to the Illinois State Bar Association on May 12, 1989, according to records on the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (IARDC) website. Her last year registered as an active lawyer was 1993, and her public record of discipline and pending proceedings says “none.”

“Michelle Obama holds a valid law license in Illinois,” Steven Splitt, a spokesperson for the IARDC, told the Daily Caller in an email. “She has never been disciplined or the subject of a disciplinary proceeding in Illinois, and she was never required to ‘surrender’ her law license.  Ms. Obama is currently on voluntary inactive status as an Illinois lawyer.”

In a 2018 interview with Oprah Winfrey before the release of her memoir “Becoming,” Obama talked about disliking being a lawyer early in her career, according to Business Insider.

Jonathan Fonti

Fact Check Reporter
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