Anna Goodwin avoids being struck off
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.