BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A phony Buffalo attorney will spend five years on probation and will need to cough up more than $7,800 in restitution for defrauding his clients.

By all outward accounts, 39-year-old Andrew Schnorr was an attorney. He worked for a Buffalo law firm and represented clients in real courtrooms. The only problem was that he never graduated from law school or passed the state bar exam, an investigation by the Office of the N.Y. Attorney General revealed.

Schnorr first came under the OAG’s microscope in the summer of 2019. An attorney lodged complaints against the 39-year-old for showing a “lack of competence” during a legal proceeding.

Investigators peeled back the curtain and discovered that Schnorr was not a licensed attorney, despite posing as one, and lied about graduating from NYU. It was also revealed Schnorr lied not just about passing the bar exam in New York, but also in California.

During his March 9 arraignment, it came out that Schnorr deceptively secured a job at an unnamed Queen City law firm. He submitted fake credentials and lied about having licenses to practice law in various states, the OAG noted.

During his sham run as an attorney, starting in 2019, Schnorr represented more than nine clients at the firm.

When Schnorr returned to the courtroom earlier this year, he pleaded guilty to a felony charge of unauthorized practice of law.

New York Attorney General Letitia James said those who practice phony law hurt people, weaken public trust in institutions and will pay the price.

“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.”

Those seeking legal representation should check to make ensure their attorney is licensed through the N.Y.S. Unified Court System’s Office of Court Administration.

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