News

UWE law grad who lied to hide her 2:2 is suspended from being a solicitor for 18 months

By on
85

Anna Goodwin avoids being struck off

lead

A University of the West of England (UWE) law graduate has been suspended from practising as a solicitor for 18 months, after upgrading her law degree from a 2:2 to a 2:1 to bag an interview at the Army Legal Services (ALS).

Anna Rachel Goodwin, who completed her LLB at UWE in 2006, claimed that she had obtained a 2:1 grade on an application submitted to the British Armed Forces for a role as a “legal advisor”.

Goodwin, who is already a qualified solicitor having completed her training contract in 2011, actually achieved a 2:2.

According to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) report, the young solicitor harboured concerns that the job advertisement stated that applicants were “normally” expected to have achieved a 2:1 or above.

Inspired by the advert guidance, Goodwin — who was aged 31 at the time — amended her CV accordingly and was subsequently invited for interview back in July 2014. At which point the ALS requested her “original” degree certificate as part of their preliminary checks.

In what appears to be an attempt by the solicitor to test her negotiation skills, Goodwin then phoned the army’s recruitment department in an attempt to explain — and justify — the discrepancy in her degree classification.

Having bagged herself a Desmond, Goodwin suggested that had she been upfront about her degree grade on the application form, the ALS would have “disregarded her CV” immediately.

Goodwin followed up her presumably awkward call with an email the following day. She pointed out that she had achieved “high results” in both her Legal Practice Course (LPC) and Professional Skills Course (PSC). And while attempting to reduce the impact of the lie, she argued that her 2:2 result “prejudiced her unfairly”.

Pleading to the emotional sensibility of the ALS, the email continued:

I would like to take this opportunity to apologise for exaggerating my marks on my CV slightly and I can only hope that you will see that my reasons for doing it were genuine in that I find it frustrating that my mark on paper is not representative of my ability and holds me back. I have my heart set on joining the ALS and I took the risk to ensure I was noticed and got the chance to show my ability at interview. I believe I am suited for this role and I very much hope this is not held against me and you would still like to consider me as a candidate and for me to maintain my invitation to interview on the 29th July.

Unfortunately for Goodwin, her email failed to have the desired effect and her interview offer was withdrawn. Adding insult to injury, the ALS then reported her conduct to the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Having been hauled before the SDT earlier this month, a panel heard how Goodwin had always “wanted a career in law since childhood”. With a passion for family law, the young solicitor was working on a “consultancy basis” at the time, while seeking a more permanent role. Arguing that it was her 2:2 that was preventing her from securing steady employment as a solicitor, she found the continuing rejection “increasingly frustrating and distressing”.

Accepting that Goodwin’s “dishonesty” was on a limited scale, the tribunal acknowledged that she now fully appreciated the seriousness of her actions.

Arguably lucky to avoid being struck off, Goodwin was slapped with an 18 month suspension and ordered to pay £3,000 in costs.

85 Comments

Anonymous

Silly girl.

(19)(4)

Anonymous

“interview offer was withdraw”

(8)(0)

BluTak

When will people learn? A Desmondee is not of a suitable calibre for a career in law. Maybe it should actually be legislated, anyone working in law as a solicitor or barrister with a Desmond should either do their degree again or be barred from practising. For legal execs, it’s fine.

It’s so easy to get a 2.1 these days, how on earth do you get a Desmond??

(29)(153)

Anonymous

“how on earth do you get a Desmond??” – There can be exceptional circumstances, and I think you should reflect that people may get a lower classification than expected for things other than lack of ability or effort. I would also point out your disdain for a Desmond demonstrated by your comment does you no credit at all, you might want to reflect on the fact it is called a Desmond because it is named after Desmond Tutu, a man who preaches tolerance, understanding and respect something, you have yet to demonstrate.

(111)(9)

Anonymous

That has got to be the dumbest comparison ever, so we should lower academic standards because the nickname for a crap degree grade is based on a rhyme with the name of a Liberal saint?

(14)(39)

anon

“Desmond” as in Desmond Tutu

Tutu / 2:2

(5)(4)

Anonymous

You say exceptional circumstances, I say excuses.

(6)(33)

Anonymous

You don’t know anything! Yes getting a 2:2 does limit your chances but certain firms (National, High street) do accept 2:2.

I know a Corporate Associate at an International Law Firm who achieved a 2:2 after completing their TC at a known national firm. You just have to know your stuff and have your answers ready!

Don’t believe this person people…. it is possible, just come prepared!

(59)(2)

Anonymous

What a silly thing to say that a 2.2 is not suitable for a career in law for sols (but fine for legal execs)

1. Why the difference between sols and legal execs?
2. I know a load of lawyers with 2.2 degrees and they are excellent at their jobs. They were just rubbish at exams.

(90)(1)

Good grief

You massive bellend.

There are thousands of first class students that are academic geniuses but have the social skills of a zombie (no offence to zombies out there).

Just because you’re academically gifted, doesn’t mean you’re built for a law firm. Client interaction and a wider awareness are just as, if not more important than having a 2:1 or above.

(91)(2)

Charlotte Proudzombie

How dare you perpetuate this anti-zombie propaganda! Discriminatory attitudes like this are the reason why 0% of solicitors and barristers today are zombies or of zombie heritage!

(40)(8)

Bob the Zombie

Gruhhhhhh

(8)(2)

Anonymous

well said

(5)(3)

Just Another Person

I see what you’re saying here, but you’re focusing 100% on academics which is incorrect.

Person A: booksmart, studies all day and does nothing else, isn’t very sociable and is a little awkward around people. Excels in exams (particularly remembering and repeating all the material he has learnt on his degree). With this, he gets a first class degree.

Person B: smart and works hard, but maintains a vast array of extra curriculars, has a lot of passion for the career and has pursued work experience. Natural people person who can win over a room with ease because of their charming personality. Would definitely work hard at the career and be able to learn how to do the job well, just doesn’t thrive in exams. Gets a 2.2, narrowly missing a 2.1.

Obviously these are two very extreme examples, but it’s only because your assertion that all 2.2s should be legally BARRED from practicing is equally extreme. In such a circumstance, I’d say person B is the clear choice to work as a solicitor.

As for the individual this article concerns, I think she is incredibly lucky to not have been struck off and maybe should have been. You can’t just lie about information like that to get a headstart because you disagree with the result you actually achieved, it wastes everybody’s time and shows them straight away they can’t trust you!

(57)(2)

Boh Dear

To contrast this argument there are thousands of ‘Person B’s out there with 2.1s… so why would you plump for Person B with a 2.2 without more?

Fairly hard to not get a 2.1… just sayin’…

(18)(19)

Anonymous

No one’s saying that employers should choose 2.2s above 2.1, just rebutting the assertion in the parent comment that it should be legislated 2.2s are unsuitable.

(13)(2)

Oh dear..

That in itself is analysis worthy of only a 2.ii.

There are enough individuals with 2.i/Firsts, that are book smart, that can put a shift in the library when they need to, excel in exams but also hold down a ‘vast array of extra curriculars, have passion for the subject/field, is a natural people person with a charming personality who will work hard at a job.

It’s just such a pointless argument. Being smart and good at exams does not prohibit the same person being sociable and a people person with life experience.

If anything, the more the whole ‘I’d rather have a fun person with a 2.ii then a nerd with a 2.i/first who is socially awkward’ line is peddled, the more it suggests that having a 2.i cut off is actually a useful tool to sift out those who cannot apply even the most basic analysis to any given problem.

(13)(8)

Lord Har-harley

You just like saying Desmond don’t you

(4)(1)

Lady Denning

You know the top billing family solicitor in the country got a third. Stop being such a prick

(28)(3)

Anonymous

Difficult to compare old degrees to recent ones. The rates of each classification have changed somewhat.

(13)(4)

Anonymous

It’s not inconceivable that lack of effort could lead to someone getting a 2:2, when in fact their ability was more akin to the majority of people getting 2:1’s. Not that I got a Desmond myself.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

What rubbish! university grades are not the true reflection of a person’s ability to do a job or pursue a career. The applicant should have declared a 2:2 and argued it.

(13)(1)

anon

A 2:2 is nor necessarily fatal to a law career.

Lots of employers recognise this and acknowledge ability in other areas – lpc grades, postgraduate stuff, practical work experience.

Employers can be more flexible and take a holistic view.

(7)(0)

Jeremy

Well, not trying, obviously. Not everyone tries that hard, for various reasons- doesn’t mean they’re not good.

(1)(0)

Lord Denning

Tbh, it’s not the grade but the university she should be hiding …

(42)(10)

And then I chundered everywhere

Looool, typical UWE grad. Speaks volumes about the university, doesn’t it?

(19)(29)

Anonymous

The only thing that ‘Speaks volumes’ is your unintelligent comment.

Sincerely UWE Law Student.

(32)(17)

Alan Blacker Esq., Saviour of the Universe and the Milky Way

Chippy UWE law students incoming. Best of luck bagging a TC bud.

(12)(11)

Chippy UWE law student

Don’t need luck, I come from a legal family where my family members have been KC’s and QC’s, however best of luck still being unintelligent.

(14)(25)

UWE MASTER RACE

There is a reason why UWE is referred to as “Bristol Law School” and offers LPC’s and BTPC’s while that crumbling wreck called Bristol lacks even that. I pity them.
No wonder UWE Law graduates have such a great employment rate while others and begging for placements in the gutter like dogs.

Anonymous

A master race which is unable to use apostrophes correctly?

UWE MASTER RACE

Autocorrect on my iPad, I am upper class and I therefore have access to such advanced devices that you could only dream of using you filthy peasant. No offence but UWE is THE BEST ex poly in the country. We have already made the news recently over our victories against the DWP.

OxMCAssociate

I studied Jurisprudence at Oxford. Was lucky enough to leave with a first. If you’re unfortunate enough to attend the UWE you really shouldn’t call anyone else a ‘peasant’ or refer to yourself as ‘upper class’ (a UWE graduate can hardly be considered ‘establishment’). At very least you should transfer to a respected law school before judging anyone else.

U wat bro

I’m sorry, I can’t take seriously any sentence which includes the words ‘best’ and ‘ex-poly’. You joker, you!

Anonymous

Lol, what good university offers LPCs and BPTCs?

UWE MASTER RACE

Exeter? Cardiff? Are they not good unis in your book you peasant?

UWE student

That is indeed true that UWE’s graduate employment rate is unrivalled.
http://www2.uwe.ac.uk/services/Marketing/why-uwe/pdf/law.pdf

Take a look at this kunt

Hahahahahahahhhahah, you amuse me. Please keep on puffing up UWE, it’s really entertaining.

Anonymous

Got to love those figures. When you are including security guard within your list of “look at the exciting things are students have done after graduating” you should know you have a problem.

Jeremy

If I went to UWE, I would tell people I didn’t go to uni as I wanted to get ‘real life education’ or something like that. There’s an easier path than pushing the garish knowledge that your uni is shameful to the back of your mind for the rest of your life. Just some friendly advice.

Boh Dear

“Don’t need luck, I come from a legal family where my family members have been KC’s and QC’s, however best of luck still being unintelligent.”

Nepotism: alive and well at UWE.

Anonymous

The above at interview: ‘Great uncle Gerald is a QC, so you haaaave to give me a training contract.’

Errrr….no.

Anonymous

First in the family to go to UWE?

Anonymous

It’s a proud achievement I’m sure. In all seriousness, I don’t believe that I have ever met a UWE grad in the city (not to say they don’t exist). I’ve met a few students though, and I’ve seen a few CVs. I’m surprised by the number of them who couldn’t manage much more than a C grade at A level, but are capable of marks above 85% at undergraduate level. I somewhat suspect there is something off…

playftse

People grow up.

(Another UWE alumni)

FFS LOL

(3)(3)

Ashamed UWE Grad

It’s sad when I see UWE bashed like it is on this website (and other places).

I’d love to know how it feels to be proud of the uni you went to, but I never will. I went to UWE because I wasn’t mature enough, emotionally or financially, to move further away from home (and my a-level performance was insufficient for UoB). In some respects I wish I’d held off on uni entirely until I was ready rather than ending up in UWE at 18.

Please don’t think that all UWE grads are under the illusion that UWE is some fantastic university because personally I’m well aware of the stigma associated with, and lack of respect commanded by, this institution on my CV.

Sometimes an individual’s situation calls for decisions that they later may regret. I wish I hadn’t gone to UWE, but I’m bored of being felt like the worth of my degree (or indeed my potential in any legal regard) is limited so substantially because my uni is an ex-poly. While it’s not hard to get a 2:1, please don’t confuse that with being ‘easy’. You don’t know people’s situations, or the issues they may be faced with during those 3 years, that may hinder their ability to achieve a higher grade.

UWE Grad

PREACH IT!!!!!!!!! THIS. IS. IT!!

Jeremy

Yes, very good. “You don’t know people’s situations” Exactly.

Boh Dear

I think her 2.2 honestly and accurately reflects her innate skullduggery.

(3)(6)

Lord Har-harley

We’ve got Thoras, Desmonds and Damiens – this should be a Billy Elliott; trying to hide your tutu

(28)(0)

Barrister

Is this really news Legal Cheek? Or just click bait for those who enjoy others being shamed?

(9)(7)

Boh Dear

Is your comment really a comment? How is this not news relevant to the legal industry?

(12)(1)

Alan Blacker Esq., Saviour of the Universe and the Milky Way

We at LC luuuuuurve shaming other ppl. Makes us feel better about our car crash careers.

(8)(0)

BluTak

I suspected there’d be lots of puffing and bloviating on here from the claque of Desmond apologists.

In my experience at law school, those who got Desmonds tended to be the thicker students. I’m sure there are rare exceptions but why cater to them if they couldn’t be arsed working at Uni?

There should be a 2.1 threshold for solicitors and barristers, that way we could properly maintain standards.

It may be that all the Desmond applauders on here are either:

a) daft in’th’ead; and/or
b) have Desmonds

(12)(12)

Barrister

BluTak, I’m not an apologist for those who get 2-2s, neither do I have a 2-2 myself or am I daft in the head. You missed my point entirely.

(8)(0)

Anonymous

In my experience the only people who got 2.2s were international students whose English just wasn’t up to scratch.

(1)(8)

Anonymous

Bag, Bagging…. any other variations?

Teabag, Thomas?

(3)(0)

Anonymous

I don’t defend Goodwin’s actions. Falsifying your qualifications is wrong, and it is right she faced disciplinary action.

However, I do sympathise. She’s completed a Training Contract, so she’s plainly not incompetent. And it must be incredibly frustrating to have your applications constantly rejected automatically when you feel you nevertheless have the skills and the capability to do the job.

However, the reality is that there is an oversupply of job-applicants and a scarcity of jobs. Degree results, although not perfect, are an objective indicator of a candidate’s ability. Employers are entitled to place strong reliance on it, and the reality is that, in law, they do. If you’re going to seek employment in this field, you therefore have to accept that reality.

(30)(2)

Mumsie

‘She’s completed a training contract, so she’s plainly not incompetent’.

Have you seen the quality of some qualified solicitors? Especially those working at panel insurance litigation firms.

(13)(8)

Richard O'Brien

Stop leaving comments here and get back to the Medieval Zone!

(3)(1)

Anonymous

I received a 2:2 some 10 years ago and was only 1.4% away from a 2:1. I am exactly like Just Another Person Person B. I really struggled with exams. It wasn’t that I didn’t know the answers but I would freeze.

Whilst I struggled getting a Training Contract eventually someone saw something in me and I qualified nearly 7 years ago. I agree that there is a lot more to being a lawyer than being academic. After all you can always look up something you do not know. However, personable skills cannot be taught.

I now run my own legal practice and recruiting for a paralegal with a view to a training contract. For me the priority is the personable skills.

(46)(1)

Anonymous

Give me your details so I can ensure never to instruct you in anything. Ever.

(8)(28)

Anonymous

Thank you for this!

I have a 2.2, was 1% of a 2.1 and went to a ‘Russel University’. I’ve been working in house as a paralegal for nearly a year and I life my job (and the pay). However I am hoping to apply for training contracts soon. Any chance you can reveal where your firm is at?

(0)(6)

Anonymous

What about someone with a 3rd class honours in a Physics degree from Bristol Uni (not UWE) because of exam anxiety/ being dumped by a solicitor just before final exams/ family pressure to become a scientist? Is there any hope for this individual in the sacred world of law?

(0)(4)

Anonymous

She acted in a supervisory role over me, and was not very good at it. No loss to the ALS.

(3)(7)

Desmond

Ha Ha the bitterness from people in the legal profession is hilarious. Good luck to the girl hustled a TC and then got an interview, people are sending her to the gallows here hardly the worst thing anyone has ever done. She should leave and join the bankers 🙂

(8)(4)

Not Amused

Broadly speaking in 2016 a 2.2 is an insurmountable barrier to a career in law. It can vary by institution, because institutions have and are known to have higher or lower standards.

But if you have a 2.2 today then I would not self fund the LPC or personally take any risks at all. The numbers are too stacked against you: even if you succeeded it would be like miraculously winning the world’s worst lottery.

The idea that it is somehow kinder telling people they have a hope, when they don’t, is one I reject.

(18)(9)

OxMCAssociate

I’d look at the context.

For instance, at Oxford you do law finals in 9 days (12 exams in all). A guy I graduated with – really quite smart – was really quite unwell during finals (an ambulance had to be called to college at one point). He missed the 2.1 by a couple of marks. The examiners didn’t budge.

If you get a 2.2 doing modular exams, particularly somewhere like the UWE where standards are significantly lower, then I’d have much less sympathy.

It’s easy to forget that a 1st class UWE grad will not equal the achievement of a 1st class Cambridge grad. There is no national standard for degree classes – you compete against your cohort at your particular university. Most of the best law firms are well aware of this fact.

(16)(5)

Not Amused

Indeed, there are no national standards for degrees. It’s a problem I thought I highlighted when I said that. But it is always worth restating.

I’m afraid though that it is not quite accurate to say you compete against your own cohort. While a uni sets its own standards, each is also (with the aid of external markers) supposed to maintain them year in year out.

One of the problems of degree inflation has been the willingness of unis to blur this line. In theory a first from one year should be of the same standard as a first from the year before (there is no quota to award and in theory none could be awarded).

But in practice we live in a world where highly, or supposedly, respectable institutions will happily publish in TES that they have lowered their boundaries.

My view is that the only solution is to impose objective standards on universities. They have no interest in doing it themselves. It is far easier to bitch in the press about unfairness than it is to actually bother to improve your teaching standards (easier to write 1500 words in the Guardian and let your PHD student do the 40hours of teaching that week). You would I expect have to tier unis – or some would not even get to award a 2.2 if standards were universal.

In practice employers are doing that tiering now. But that presents its own problems. Firstly it is a financial burden on employers. Secondly the people in HR are not the best people to spot how good Uni X’s law faculty is versus Uni Y’s History faculty – or indeed to understand or qualitativly assess unis. Thirdly, while the idiotic press narrative is that recognising these different standards of unis is somehow ‘wrong’, large companies are unwilling to be honest for fear of negative press.

All of which harms social mobility. Bright poor born kids often end up at bad unis which bright rich born kids would never be sent anywhere near (and because of persistent bad advice to poor born kids). While the pressure on employers to pretend bad unis aren’t bad benefits only the dim rich born kids: as the bad education which should expose them is quietly brushed under the carpet, allowing soft skills (taught at private schools, but not at state) to hold sway over final recruitment decisions.

(9)(1)

Anonymous

Your friend was stupid to sit the exams, and clearly has no common sense. Every university I know of in this country has a fit to sit test, that is if you are fit enough to sit the exam you are fit enough to take it, however every university also makes allowances for the fact people get ill and every university would take a medical note from a doctor (not difficult to procure) as evidence of being too ill to take the exam. Perhaps the student may have had to delay graduating for a year and sit the exam the next academic year, but that is far better than messing up, getting a 2:2 and wasting 3 years of your life. I can’t say I’d want him as a lawyer if he makes such poor choices.

(2)(7)

Jeremy

It’s obviously not kinder and can actually f up people’s lives. So, in all seriousness, it’s actually atrocious behaviour. I’ve had equally poor advice when I was young from some irresponsible, unthinking people. Avoid them.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

It is possible to achieve a successful legal career with a 2:2. However, it will take longer and anyone with a 2:2 will have to consider less obvious routes. Once established with a good reputation, then more doors will open. I accept that there won’t be the same amount of choice, but that does not mean it is impossible.

(9)(3)

Lord Harley

Nothing at all wrong with blagging your degree.

I went all the way on bluff and look at me now …

(11)(1)

Anonymous

Depends when you did it. If you got a 2.2 in the 1980s or early 90s, it was considered to be good. Not many got 2.1s or 1sts. Now 2.1s are given away with washing power.

(10)(5)

Anonymous

That is nonsense. There were simply less graduates prior to the Blair government view that everyone should go to university, thus devaluing a) the degree and b) anything that wasn’t a degree. A 2:2 was never good, it just wasn’t prohibitive

(4)(4)

Lord Lyle of the Isles

What is the legal error the SDT made?

(0)(0)

Comments are closed.