Allison Margolin - L.A.'s Dopest Attorney

I call her Wednesday night, September 6, 2006.

She speaks rapidly. Audio. (Her YouTube.com video.)

Luke: "What have you loved and hated about all the media attention you've received over the past few weeks?"

Allison: "I love that my friends and acquaintances who I told about my practice and they didn't take it seriously, it was rewarding. 'I told you I was going to be in the L.A. Times.' I like to spread my messages even though the [LA Times] article didn't talk about my philosophy, a lot of people read my blog.

"What I hated: Since I started being a lawyer, I've found this frustrating -- that I'm a whore who wears low-cut outfits to court. One blog said I dressed like Ally McBeal.

"I dress my age. I'm 28. I'm not hanging out with my chest exposed.

"The reason that the article was like that was the writer -- Maura Dolan. She's really cool. She's a court reporter. She writes about court hearings and rulings. This was an erotic thrill for her. She was really into it.

"The other thing that I didn't like about the article was that I'm money hungry. In a sense I'm happy, because many times a week people come into my office trying to get me to take their cases for free. People try to take advantage of me."

Luke: "How did you deal with all the attention to your sexiness?"

Allison: "Before I became a lawyer, I went to Harvard (1999) and Columbia (2002) and I was a nerd. But since I became a lawyer, because of how I look and how I dress, they assume I'm stupid. I use that to my advantage.

"During my second year of law school, I worked for a civil litigation firm in Century City. I was doing great. I had my midsummer review. The only negative thing was that some of the female attorneys said my skirts were too short and they were offended.

"My mom's [Elyse Margolin] a lawyer. She inspired me to be myself in the courtroom and out.

"Devastated [by the criticism], I bought this long skirt. I put it on to go to work. My mom said, 'Allison, that's not you.' I took it off.

"It's not that I try to be provocative. It's who I am. To be anything different would be fake.

"The courtroom is where I feel comfortable. I feel more comfortable in a courtroom than in a bar. That's my scene."

Luke: "Do you notice people checking you out in court?"

Allison: "I don't notice. I'm not focused on that. I'm in my zone."

Luke: "How would you know if you were dressing inappropriately?"

Allison: "I don't even know what that means. How would I know? I guess my mom or my stepdad. I know a lot of lawyers who would say something to me.

"If I go to jury trial and I win... I'd know if people were offended by me. When I go to jury trial, I tone it down and try to be extra conscious.

"The most inappropriate thing I do is that I change into sweats after court."

"I never watched Ally McBeal. My mom is the original Ally McBeal."

From the LA Times Aug. 22:

Her self-promotions have raised eyebrows in a profession in which many lawyers still frown upon advertising as ambulance chasing.

Until not quite 30 years ago, lawyer advertising was banned altogether. "Need warrant recalled?" her radio, movie and newspaper ads ask. "Want to smoke pot on probation? All criminal defense, from drugs to murder. Harvard Law, affordable."

She is the daughter of Bruce Margolin, the widely known defense lawyer who has championed efforts to decriminalize marijuana and once ran for governor on that platform.

...Her parents divorced when she was 2, and both are on their third marriages. Margolin has three stepsisters, two half sisters and one half brother, ranging in age from 6 months to 15 years.

Allison Margolin blogs:

My parents raised me without putting restrictions on what I could see. My mother and I shamelessly strolled the house naked together. My father, too, was a nudist in his own right. He swam trunk-less and even had friends who participated in public consummations at their wedding ceremonies. But it wasn't until I was eight-years-old when I knew I wanted to be in Playboy. I was at my mother's hairdresser flipping through magazines, when suddenly the page I flipped felt hairy. I looked down and saw a beautiful naked woman with real hair glued to her pubic area. I laughed at the way the hairdressers had tried to bring the Playboy Centerfold to life, but what captured me was the image of the naked woman.

In Playboy, I had found a forum that accepted the same thing my parents had silently promulgated to me: nudity and sexuality were things to be celebrated, not punished.

Luke: "When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?"

Allison: "I was always struggling between writer and lawyer."

Luke: "What crowd did you hang out with in highschool?"

Allison: "I went to Beverly Hills High School. I was an outcast. I was with the AP kids. I was taking 7:30 a.m. P.E. because I had six honors classes. I always felt uncomfortable there. People would always make fun of me. Now for me it's like Revenge of the Nerds. I see these same women going out... My husband was one of the cooler people in highschool. I didn't know him at the time. Now I'm successful, it's fun for me."

Luke: "What do you love and hate about your work?"

Allison: "I love going to court and fighting for what I believe in. I hate the pressure. I hate going to bed and thinking about my work. I'm trying to start these other careers. I'm trying to be a commentator. I'm pitching a scripted show about my law practice. I don't want to deal with this pressure every day. I'd like to have two tracks to my career, not five cases on calendar and being stressed about it.

"I loathe having to promote myself to clients."

Luke: "Some people will laugh. You are great at self-promotion."

Allison: "The ad was the only thing I did. The Daily Journal called me. The LA Times called me. I don't mind sharing my thing but I don't want it to do it myself, say I'm so great..."

Luke: "When you look back on your life, how much free choice have you had or were just fated to become what you've become?"

Allison: "Can there even be free choice if something is fated? I'm a fatalistic person. I think this is my calling. I had these ideas in highschool, but I was very straight. I didn't smoke pot. I didn't drink alcohol.

"My views have never been popular, except for when I went to Columbia, where everyone was pretty much like me."

Luke: Your upbringing sounds crazy and libidinous.

Allison: "My mom kept me away from some of my dad's crazier friends. My mom and my grandmother kept me on a straight path. I was embarrassed by my dad when I was little."

Luke: "What role has Judaism played in your life?"

Allison: "My mom's side of the family was killed in the Holocaust. My maternal grandmother, grandfather and great grandmother were survivors. That's left an emotional mark.

"I feel uncomfortable in a temple or with any religious custom. During my wedding, I ended up running away during the Hava Nagilla.

"All religions feel strange to me.

"I can't say I don't feel like a Jew. Obviously the Holocaust presence in my life, I feel like a Jew.

"I feel bad. I wish I did relate to it more or felt one with any organized religion but I don't. I appreciate the ritual aspects, the Sabbath and the idea of not working on Saturday, which I don't do. I appreciate the balance that it speaks of. But when I go to temple and everyone's singing those songs, I don't know those songs. I don't even want to be there. Unfortunately."

Luke: "Would you really pose for Playboy and what's in it for you?"

Allison: "Maybe not at this stage in my career. I would like to but all these people in prison seeing my pictures..."