Thursday, January 23, 2014

What should be the proper discipline for dishonesty on a resume?

When discussing the inconsistencies among states when it comes to disciplinary sanctions, I always tell my students that what they need to remember is that regardless of the conduct "you always risk disbarment" (simply because you never know what the authorities are going to do).

Now, this leads me to the question of the day.  Should an attorney be disbarred for embellishing his resume?

The ABA Journal is reporting today that a former Paul Hastings partner in London has been disbarred for embellishing his resume. He originally faced a three-year suspension, but the United Kingdom's Bar Standards Board imposed disbarment instead.

Are the authorities stricter (or the standards higher) in the UK?  I don't know about that, but I don't think an attorney would be disbarred in the US for just one instance of dishonesty on a resume.  Over the past few years, I wrote about a case in California where an attorney was suspended for using an outdated resume (here), and a case in Illinois where the attorney was suspended for altering a law school transcript in an attempt to get a job (here).  In that second case, I argued the attorney should have been disbarred because the conduct was particularly egregious in my opinion (and was not limited to the issue with the transcript).  Yet in the end the attorney was suspended for three years.  That is a pretty severe sanction, but it is not disbarment.