A junior solicitor at a city law firm was struck off the Roll of Solicitors last month by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT), following the “deliberate, calculated and repeated” embellishment of her CV.
Ms Bains, who was admitted to the roll in 2015, trained with a national law firm in 2013 before joining a large international firm as an Associate Solicitor in their Finance and Projects Team.
The SDT heard how Ms Bains had inflated a number of the grades she had obtained in her undergraduate law degree modules and the Legal Practice Course (LPC) when applying for a Training Contract in 2011. It is also alleged that Ms Bains claimed to have studied six areas of law which she had not, including Company and Competition Law. The university that Ms Bains attended also confirmed that she had studied other subjects which she had not referred to within her application, for example Crime and Punishment and Family and Child Law.
It was also alleged that in 2015, when applying for a job as a Newly Qualified Solicitor, Ms Bains submitted a CV to a recruitment agency which she knew or ought to have known contained false or misleading information. The SDT heard that parts of Ms Bains’ CV had been cut and pasted from the CVs of two other solicitors and other parts had been taken from the website of her previous firm. It is understood that the firm found the CV and accompanying correspondence on its IT systems following Ms Bains’ departure and reported its concerns to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
Ms Bains argued that the exaggeration of her grades was an honest mistake and claimed that she had drafted the CV at work without access to her academic records. However, the SDT held that it “was not plausible” for Ms Bains to have guessed all of her grades, bar one, to be so much higher than they really were.
With regards to the CV, Ms Bains accepted that it did contain some inaccuracies. However, she explained her belief that it would be obvious to any firm looking at her CV that her role was only to assist in the cases she had mentioned. She also alleged that the similarities between her own CV and that of her colleague arose due to her haste in proof reading the document she had used as a precedent.
The SDT found that Ms Bains had acted dishonestly and had breached the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Code of Conduct by failing to act with integrity and failing to behave in a way which maintains the public’s trust in the legal profession.
Ms Bains was subsequently struck off the Roll of Solicitors and Ordered to pay costs in the sum of £6,000.
This case emphasises the importance of being both honest and thorough when writing a CV or submitting a job application. Further, it shows how severe the repercussions for providing false or misleading information can be, whether this arises intentionally or by a failure to thoroughly check a precedent document. Anyone who is uncertain about the details of their employment or education history should ensure that these are clarified before sending out applications to prospective employers.
If you have been accused of such conduct or are an employer requiring advice in relation to a similar situation, please contact Farleys Employment Law & HR team on 0845 287 0939 or submit your enquiry online.