It’s a tale that reads a little like the plot to the popular legal drama, Suits, in which the affable former investment banker Mike Ross finds his way into the halls of big law without the appropriate credentials.
In a Solicitors Regulation Authority decision issued today in the U.K., a regulatory settlement agreement outlines how Michael McCooe, at one time employed at McCarthy Tétrault LLP’s London office in 2011, has agreed to removed himself from the Roll of Solicitors.
McCooe, who now lives in Switzerland, had submitted a resume to McCarthy’s in 2011, which he also gave to an employment agency. It stated that he had been admitted to professional bodies in Australia in 1980, Ireland in 1989, France in 1991 and Switzerland in 1993.
It also indicated he held an LLM in competition law from King’s College, London, a PhD in international competition and trade from the University of Zurich, and a doctorate in international competition law from Trinity College in Dublin.
In fact McCooe had not been admitted to any professional bodies in Ireland, France or Switzerland — he had only practised law there. He also does not hold any qualifications from Trinity College or the University of Zurich.
He does hold a post-graduate diploma in EC law from King’s College in London but does not have an LLM from that institution.
He began his career as a solicitor in 1991 and worked in-house as well as on his own from 1996 before joining McCarthy’s in 2011.
In 2013 McCarthy Tétrault announced McCooe had been hired by the government of Colombia to advise on a long-time maritime border dispute between Colombia and Nicaragua. In a press release it stated that McCooe would “… act as international counsel and global strategist to the Republic of Colombia, working with President Juan Manuel Santos and Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holquin.”
The firm described him as “among the most experienced and respected lawyers practising in international affairs in the world.”
The regulatory decision issued today states: “Mr. McCooe does not now remember how the inaccuracies arose on his CV. However he accepts he is responsible for them.”
He admitted that he “was aware of, but failed to correct, false and inaccurate details contained within the CV that he knew or ought to have known would be misleading to others.”
“His recollection is that his employer did not rely on the CV when offering him a job, and he did not realise that his employer would include incorrect details in its publications.”
When he realized that the firm was using the information from his CV he alerted them and made sure they were removed.
In March 2014 McCooe resigned from the firm. He does not currently hold a practicing certificate.
When it comes to vetting resumés, organizations must be diligent when looking at talent, says Emily Lee of ALT Recruitment Partners Inc.
“It is unfortunate, but even the legal profession — one of the most trusted professions in the world — has its outliers,” says Lee.
“In addition to comprehensive reference checks and law society verification, which should always be conducted, there are many other tools on offer including credit, criminal and education checks. Often the decision to use these tools comes from a gut feeling.”
McCooe admitted he was dishonest and indicated he will remove himself from the Roll of Solicitors in the next 28 days.
He also agreed to pay the SRA’s costs in the sum of about $3,000.