City lawyer at centre of Legal Cheek investigation quits profession over CV fabrications

Avatar photo

By Thomas Connelly on

Ex-McCarthy Tétrault “consultant” claimed, among other things, to have obtained an LLM from King’s College and a PHD from the University of Zurich


A City lawyer who was at the centre of an exclusive Legal Cheek investigation last year has agreed to remove himself from the profession, after it emerged his CV was chock-full of professional and academic qualifications that he hadn’t obtained.

Back in 2011, Swiss resident Michael McCooe landed a consultancy job at the London office of Toronto-based law firm, McCarthy Tétrault.

According to a regulatory settlement agreement (RSA), published by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) earlier today, the mining and energy specialist made a number of inaccurate claims on his CV.

As well as stating that he had completed an “LLM in competition law from King’s College”, McCooe also claimed to have bagged a “PhD in international competition and trade from the University of Zurich” and a “doctorate in international competition law from Trinity College”.

The disciplinary report states that the CV — which also claimed McCooe had been admitted to professional bodies in Australia, Ireland, France and Switzerland — was given to both McCarthy Tétrault and a specialist employment agency. McCooe secured a job four months later.

Furthermore the report shows that the City lawyer did “not have any qualifications from Trinity College, Dublin, or the University of Zurich”. He does, however, hold a post-graduate diploma in EC law from King’s.

Despite a number of glaring issues with the CV, the RSA report notes that McCooe could not “remember how the inaccuracies arose”, but as soon as he realised they had been published online, “he raised the issue and made sure that the details were removed”.

Slapping McCooe with costs of £1,872 and giving him 28 days to remove himself from the roll, the soon-to-be ex-lawyer must also inform any future firm which he seeks employment from about today’s agreement.

This isn’t the first time McCooe has appeared on Legal Cheek’s radar.

Back in February 2015, Legal Cheek launched its own investigation into McCooe regarding his Queen’s Counsel status in Australia. Asked about this, McCooe informed Legal Cheek that he received a letter from an outfit named the League of International Attorneys (LIA) telling him he was eligible for the rank of QC in Australia via a federal application.

McCooe maintained he then contacted the New South Wales Bar Association for clarification as to its legitimacy, and once satisfied, handed over £1,600 to the LIA via a credit card payment. He told Legal Cheek:

“I thought it was worth a punt.”

His QC status appeared on a number of online sites, including Chambers & Partners (since removed), but Philip Selth — New South West Bar Associate executive director — confirmed to us at the time that McCooe had never been granted either the status of QC or senior counsel.

On realising he had been duped, McCooe resigned from McCarthy Tétrault and immediately attempted to withdraw all published references to the bogus QC title. He told Legal Cheek:

I’m devastated by this. I’ve called back all QC documents and have fallen on my sword at the firm. I’ve not worked since as a lawyer and will not again.

After today’s RSA this is not so much another McCooe punt but a racing certainty.