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Exam lie ends junior solicitor’s City career

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Former Proskauer Rose lawyer struck off for pretending to pass professional insolvency exam

SQE super-exam students solicitors

A junior solicitor has seen his promising career at a top City law firm ended after lying to his boss about passing an exam.

Michael William Freeman will no longer be able to practise law after he was caught pretending to have secured a specialist insolvency qualification when he hadn’t sat the exam.

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) said that Freeman, who had worked his way up from paralegal to high-flying City solicitor, was guilty of “deliberate, calculated and repeated” dishonesty.

Freeman was a junior solicitor at international law firm Proskauer Rose, working across its private credit and restructuring teams. He claimed he had very long hours, which eventually led to a break-up with his fiancée, and referred to a challenging work environment.

In particular, the tribunal heard allegations that Freeman’s supervising partner had told him to “fuck off up the corridor and become a Lego lawyer” and “fuck off and cry to HR about it”. The unnamed partner said that there had been “open and frank discussions” and admitted “occasionally we all swear. I am no exception”.

Despite his alleged heavy workload, Freeman was meant to be studying for the Certificate of Proficiency in Insolvency throughout 2016. Proskauer Rose paid the course fees and the exam was in December 2016.

Freeman skipped the exam, later explaining that he had “missed a number of sessions and the mock exam due to pressure of work… looking back, I believe I had a fear of failing”.

Nevertheless, when Freeman’s supervising partner asked him on several occasions whether he had passed the exam, Freeman said that he had. Freeman also put this in a firm bio, although he managed to prevent this going live without admitting the truth to his boss.

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Eventually, however, management became suspicious. The tribunal’s judgment records an excruciating moment when a senior figure at Proskauer Rose was talking Freeman through the process for ordering a replacement insolvency certificate from the examining body. Freeman “suddenly interrupted her and stated that he had to take an urgent call from a client and needed to terminate the telephone call”.

Ten minutes later, Freeman rocked up to his boss’s office and claimed to have failed the exam because of a tricky essay question. He later admitted that he had never sat it at all.

Freeman, a graduate of the University of the West of England, had worked in several paralegal roles before securing a training contract at Proskauer Rose, according to his LinkedIn profile. His colleagues “held his abilities in high regard and considered that he was good at his job”.

Before the SDT, he admitted most of the allegations but denied dishonesty.

The tribunal accepted that no clients had been misled by Freeman’s conduct. But it found that “ordinary and decent people… would consider that it was dishonest to tell your colleagues that you had taken and passed an exam when you know that you had not”. Freeman’s relative inexperience was no excuse.

It added that “even if, which was not accepted, the respondent was working in a toxic and uncaring environment, it did not excuse his dishonesty and did not amount to exceptional circumstances”.

Freeman was struck off the roll of solicitors and ordered to pay £9,423 in costs.

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37 Comments

Anonymizer

Never heard of this “firm”

(22)(6)

Anonymind

You must be living under a rock if you have never heard about Proskauer Rose before!

(28)(23)

IM Partner

I only know about Irwin Mitchell

(28)(1)

US Firm NQ

To be fair never heard about it before a friend moved there. The firm’s presence in London is not that large.

(14)(2)

THICC

Lmao stfu

(4)(3)

Kirkland NQ

People said that about the ‘land before I joined.

(2)(3)

anon

Lmao as if you could compare a giant like Kirkland with some ordinary bucketshop.

(3)(1)

Legal Genius

These SRA plebs are really eager to strike out ambitious lawyers’ names. Must be bitter for not making top whackkk.

(36)(4)

Harles

One could say his career became insolvent

(31)(7)

Anonymous

Huge respect to the partner for standing up to a moaning snowflake. The pathetic excuses the snowflake gave should be enough to merit a striking off too . University of West England. Mmmmm. Ranked 69th in the country. What should be shocking to taxpayers is that there are 34 lower ranked law schools in the nation.

(17)(59)

Archibald Pomp O'City

“What should be shocking to taxpayers is that there are 34 lower ranked law schools in the nation.”

You misunderstand the concept of ranking by making the assumption that any law school ranked below another law school (in this case, starting somewhat arbitrarily from rank 69) should be a shock to the taxpayer.

Why, exactly, is the existence of 34 lower-ranked schools shocking?

Are the schools ranked 60-69 not shocking, or might they be?

Should there only be one law school because any school ranked beneath it is shocking?

Explain yourself.

(3)(7)

I See Annoying People

The state is paying for too many universities and university places. They are funded by taxpayers. That there are 34 law schools worse than the University of West England, and yes we have learned today there is such a place, is testament to the point.

But god, your post is gibberish of the highest order. Either you are satirising or you are quite dim. I’m going with the latter.

(3)(7)

Go away

You’re looking for issues unnecessarily. Go and “explain yourself” to your disappointed parents.

(1)(1)

Anon

Stressed out and overworked young lawyer going through personal troubles makes a stupid bit understandable mistake that ultimately harmed no one is apparently grounds for ending his entire career.

(74)(11)

Anonymous

Lawyer is dishonest. Unsuitable for profession. End of excuses.

(29)(17)

; - \)

People like 3:27pm are part of the problem of the modern workplace. Apologists for dishonesty.

(6)(19)

Archibald Pomp O'City

What was your big mistake? Something equally dishonest, I suspect.

(0)(2)

Anonymous

Dull witless flamer. Spent three hours coming up with the name no doubt.

(2)(0)

:)

Yes, the fact that he didn’t even come clean when asked. Maybe if he had then this would have been a suspension rather than a dismissal, but it is a lie and then further lies to cover the lie.

(8)(3)

caps22

But it didn’t sound like he could, for example hastily leaving the conversation about a replacement insolvency certificate. I’m sympathetic about not being able to work and study for a difficult exam at the same time, but I’ve both done that and passed and done that and skipped the exam. Never did I lie about it though!

(5)(7)

Anon

As always, the cover-up is usually worse than the mistake itself.

(26)(0)

Tom

£9423 costs. Why do people pay these costs? It’s not as if they are a Court of Law. We don’t sign anything agreeing to pay their costs should we appear before them. And who taxes their costs? What was so time consuming and expensive about deliberating over such a simple concept? Their alleged costs are staggering in most cases

(22)(0)

Archibald Pomp O'City

I was wondering that (given I’m not a lawyer, though I’m at least as clever as one). Is there any compulsion to pay the costs? If I were a dishonest and now-broke lawyer, I wouldn’t pay their fucking costs.

(4)(6)

Mr H van der Meer

Clearly. You are missing the point. Were you thinking of Archbold or are you actually using your given name?

(0)(2)

Archibald Pomp O'City

It’s my real name, Mr H. Do you think I made it up?

(2)(1)

Solicitors Act 1974

Yes.

The SDT has jurisdiction to make an order for costs pursuant to section 47(2)(i) of the Solicitors Act 1974 (the “Act”).

A costs order made by the SDT, once filed with the Law Society, can be enforced as if it was a High Court judgment (section 48(4) of the Act).

(1)(2)

Anon

Professional Disciplinary Proceedings are a thing. This is that.

(1)(0)

Scep Tick

“We don’t sign anything agreeing to pay their costs should we appear before them. ”

We do. We sign up to obey the code of conduct, which includes referral to the SDT, which has the power to award costs.

(4)(0)

Archibald Pomp O'City

“If you can manage the day to day work of being a lawyer even if you haven’t done an exam, doesn’t it imply that that exam is meaningless?”

Are you trolling or do you genuinely believe you’re making a clever point?

The exam IS the test of ability. You don’t take the exam to become able. Rather, you’re able if you can pass the exam.

The exam shows who is able and who is not. That is its sole function, a necessary function at that. That renders the exam far from meaningless.

(9)(11)

Mike Ross

CLEARLY you havent watched Suits

(13)(0)

R

“A lie is a lie”

Partridge

(1)(0)

Anonymous

I heard that the BSB dispose of similar cases with a game of beer pong.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

Well, Lord Lester QC was found to have made unwanted sexual advances to a woman and abused his position, and the House of Lords recommended that he be suspended from membership of the House. But he was not sanctioned by the BSB.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

The liability for costs arises by virtue of the fact that you have entered into a contractual relationship with the Law Society. However having worked in this field before, I know that registrants are usually loath to challenge the costs because they fear an increased penalty from the tribunal. The SRA farms out its prosecutions to private firms who go to town on racking up costs. I don’t know whether the SRA agrees to pay them what they bill, what they are awarded or whether they simply get what the SDT awards. Whatever basis they are paid on, I suspect it would be an eye-opener. Look at the difference between what in-house regulators charge where they do the prosecution themselves as against SRA prosecutions. The gulf between what both apply for after a successful hearing is telling!

(4)(0)

Joseph

University West of England slagged of above as 69th in the country. I hope you appreciate that candidates graduating from that university have gone on to study and pass the exams (in my day) at The Inns of Court school of Law, the only institution then granting the Bar qualification for the United Kingdom. And most candidates coming from Cambridge and Oxford to that same Inn of court. Additionally candidates cross qualifying and being very successful city lawyers abroad and prosecutors alike. Yes from that same university mmmmmm to that. This guy failed an exam, he was shortcoming with the truth, he payed an expensive and heartbreaking price. He will nonetheless go onto more successful things in life which I hope is not slagging of stupid league tables of which university does it for you.com@stuffy,com

(5)(4)

Legal Cheek

The point about toxic working environments is well made here given the comments.

Looking up his university ranking and laughing at it…pity the people who have to work with the likes of you.

He’s paid the ultimate price for his mistake but you all have to drive the nail in deeper.

(9)(0)

monkey the chimp

“fuck off up the corridor and become a Lego lawyer” and “fuck off and cry to HR about it”

I’m no city lawyer but that’s very funny and he deserved a bollocking for lying about professional qualifications

(0)(2)

Comments are closed.

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