Los Angeles gets a lot of grief for being home to an inordinate number of celebretards, pseudo-celebretards, star fuckers, and vain VIPs. Although the city is thusly stereotyped, it’s also home to a thriving population of unique and noteworthy people whose pursuits add diversity and depth to a seemingly shallow pool. Each week, LA’s Better Half will profile one distinctive Angeleno doing something remarkable and original. This week: Meet Allison Margolin, LA’s Dopest Attorney.
She’s not your average Angeleno, but then again, who is? In some ways, Allison Margolin is the epitome of Los Angeles: She’s both smart and artsy (smartsy?), intense and earthy, and let’s face it–she’s wonderfully, amusingly, undeniably weird. An Angeleno by birth, raised on LA’s westside, Margolin has spent the past four years branding herself as “LA’s Dopest Attorney,” a criminal lawyer specializing in drug defense. While at first she may appear more like a friend you’d get high with than an attorney to defend you when you get caught, she’s the real deal. Educated at Columbia University and Harvard Law School, Margolin is intellectually fearless and passionate about the legalization of all drugs.
The 29-year-old high flier returned to Los Angeles four years ago after almost a decade away, and she says that none of the other cities she’s lived in–New York, Boston, Berkeley, and Flint, Michigan–compares. She loved New York, but even the Big Apple couldn’t top LA, as she began to really appreciate the natural aspects of city. “I’d rather live in nature than in concrete,” she explains. Her only real complaint about Los Angeles is what she experiences as a lack of anonymity, something she loved about New York. In LA, she feels much more self-conscious. Even still, she says that she appreciates the opportunity to be multi-dimensional here, for example, to identify and express oneself both physically and intellectually, something she found harder to do in New York.
Her appreciation for LA came as a slow surprise to Margolin, who grew up sheltered in Beverly Hills, and who wasn’t sure that she’d ever return to Los Angeles when she left for college in 1995. Her most exciting excursion as a child was a weekly visit to the long-gone Ed Debevic’s on La Cienega’s Restaurant Row, which closed its doors in 2003. As a teenager she found Angelenos to be superficial and looks-obsessed, and it wasn’t until she met the man who would become her husband that she began to branch out. The relationship activated her exploration of the city, which she loves most of all for its abundance of natural beauty.
An avid hiker, she spends as much time as she can trekking Tree People trails with her Chocolate Lab. It’s where she goes to unwind and find peace when she’s not at Caffe Primo on Sunset, her favorite Italian eatery, or shopping at Kate on Fairfax.
Margolin’s Los Angeles roots go deep, as does her investment in drug law: She is the daughter of “California Marijuana Attorney” Bruce Margolin, who has championed efforts to decriminalize marijuana for more than 40 years, and who for 30 years has served as director of Los Angeles NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, a nonprofit lobbying organization working to legalize marijuana. Although she is following in her father’s footsteps and briefly worked for his firm after passing the bar, she now works out of her mother’s law firm on the sixth floor of the Flynt building. Framed Skunk Magazine features and Us Weekly covers adorn her office walls alongside diplomas from Columbia and Harvard Law. She’s been profiled in the Los Angeles Times and keeps a personal blog that covers everything from social and legal commentary to musings on Paris Hilton and Playboy. You can even watch YouTube videos of her expounding on why all drugs should be legalized.
That is, after all, what she’s ultimately working toward, and although she’s just getting started, she gives the impression that if anyone can do it, LA’s Dopest Attorney will someday win the war on the war on drugs, fittingly from within the hallowed halls of the Flynt building.
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