Friday, January 2, 2009

Resume Misconduct Draws Suspension, Probation

From the January 2009 online edition of the California Bar Journal:

[An attorney] was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of probation with an actual 60-day suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect Aug. 1, 2008.

[He] stipulated that he presented an outdated resume to a prospective employer, committing an act of moral turpitude.

He left the law firm where he worked when it downsized and hired a resume writing service. However, his new resume was not ready when he heard about a job opening, so he submitted an old version, without revising the dates of his previous employment. The resume gave the impression that he was still employed.

[He] later faxed a new resume to the prospective employer but it did not clarify his dates of employment.

In mitigation, [he] has no discipline record, he cooperated with the bar’s investigation and he presented letters attesting to his honesty.

Does this strike anyone out there as unduly harsh? From the description of the misconduct, it appears that the resume was perhaps misleading but not outright false. Further, the attorney was downsized rather than terminated for misconduct. It is not the same as, say, concealing a job where the applicant had been fired for incompetence.

In D.C., we had a case (In re Hadzi-Antich, 497 A.2d 1062, decided in 1985) where the attorney received a public censure for falsifying his law school class rank on a resume. While I do not always think that D.C. gets sanction correctly (as readers well know), a sanction that does not include a suspension seems appropriate here.

I would not call this conduct involving moral turpitude which is defined as, among other things, "base, vile and depraved."(Mike Frisch)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2009/01/resume-miscondu.html

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» Lawyer Resume Fraud from Adjunct Law Prof Blog
The Legal Profession Blog had an interesting Jan. 2, 2009 posting about resume fraud by attorneys. It reports on a California and D.C. case where attorneys were sanctioned for misrepresentations on their resumes. Franklly, I am not sure that this [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 28, 2009 9:03:31 PM

Comments

Yes, it struck me as unduly harsh, as well, but unfortunately in keeping with the punitive mindset of California State Bar prosecutors since Scott Drexel took over as Chief Trial Counsel in 2005. Almost every discipline decision in California and probably most other states recites that discipline is not punitive but exists to protect the public. It is getting harder and harder to keep this pretense up; those of us who deal with the discipline prosecutors on a daily basis in California see discipline driven by a desire to punish lawyers whom they have decided are bad people. As a former discipline prosecutor (and a former member of NOBC)it is distressing. This punitive mindset has galvanized discipline defense attorneys to formalize our defense bar organization, the Association of Defense Discipline Defense Counsel (www.disciplinedefensecounsel.org.)

Posted by: David Cameron Carr | Jan 3, 2009 3:13:42 PM

Wow, there must be no other misconduct left for the Bar to police in California; now, they are turning to DATES OF EMPLOYMENT on resumes. Children bathe in rivers of chocolate and pluck gumdrops from trees, and the worst thing done is resume-fudging.

I see a distinction between lying about your GPA, and fudging a bit on employment dates. It's a hard environment economically and people don't want to admit they were fired or let go.

No, it's not right; but what a trivial issue to prosecute someone over. There's still such a thing as prosecutorial discretion; sheesh.

And I realize that in response, some could wrap themselves in the flag of "this is DISHONESTY, by god, and unacceptable in our great profession" but if you ask me, the proper description of what the bar did is "chickenshit."

Posted by: John | Jan 6, 2009 5:13:37 AM

Really great article. I go through the complete article and it's really amazing.

Posted by: Associate Resume | Jan 18, 2009 10:47:01 PM

This just goes to show how very important it is for anyone searching for an attorney to look into credentials. Any really good attorney shouldn't have to fib on their resume.

Posted by: Joe | Jan 29, 2009 7:42:27 AM

More than excessive harshness, this case raises questions of bias by class, taking the term in the rigorous Marxist sense. See my belated analysis at http://tinyurl.com/c59uuh

Posted by: Stephen R. Diamond | Apr 29, 2009 8:01:30 PM

Lawyers brag about ethics all the time... It's high time we shove it down their throats too.

Posted by: Friendly Jim | Jun 29, 2009 3:23:24 PM

Well, if there had been some gross misrepresentation or outright fabrication on his resume, like that he went to Harvard or received certain awards etc that he hadn't, that would be one thing, but a mere negligent omission of an entirely trivial sort that does not even rise to common "puffery" that is common on resumes should not form the basis for any kind of discipline. What disturbs me more here, is what kind of a vindictive jerk of an employer would turn someone in for something like this? which raises the issue of the Bar intervening on behalf of a malicious employer in a labor dispute. In this instance, Bar counsel pursued a frivolous and meritless case.

Posted by: Sue Sponte | Feb 5, 2010 6:41:41 PM

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