Paul L. Caron

Friday, April 8, 2011

Lawyer Suspended for Six Months for Falsely Claiming He Had a B.U. Tax LL.M.

In re Wade A. Jensen (NO. BD-2011-019):

The respondent received a six-month suspension from the practice of law for misrepresenting his qualifications during a job search, as described below.

The respondent received a Bachelor of Science degree from Purdue University in 1997 and a Juris Doctor degree from Washington and Lee University in 2002. In 2008, the respondent enrolled as a student in the Graduate Tax program at Boston University (LL.M. program). Although the respondent attended classes in the LL.M. program from September 2, 2008, to May 8, 2009 (as a full-time student), and from January 12, 2010, to May 7, 2010 (as a part-time student), he never graduated.

After leaving the LL.M program, the respondent began a job search and contacted a Minnesota law firm that was seeking to hire a tax and estate planning attorney. The respondent provided the firm with his resume, in which he intentionally made the following misrepresentations: (i) he received an LL.M. degree from Boston University School of Law in May of 2010; (ii) he received a Bachelor of Science degree from Tufts University in May of 1997; and (iii) while attending Tufts University, he was on the “Dean’s Honor List” on three separate occasions, was the recipient of a department scholarship and a prize for overall achievement, and was a six-time varsity letter winner in hockey and lacrosse. He also falsely claimed to have worked as an attorney at another law firm for two years; he had only worked there for less than a year.

The respondent also provided the Minnesota law firm with a purported copy of his grade report from the LL.M. program. The respondent had altered this report to show that he graduated from the LL.M. program by increasing his grades in several subjects and inflated his overall grade point average.

In the course of this job search, the respondent also knowingly made similar misrepresentations about his professional qualifications and employment record in a publicly available, online directory of lawyers. The respondent did not obtain employment at the Minnesota law firm. He has since removed all false information from his online profile and from his resume.

The respondent’s actions constituted dishonesty, fraud, deceit, and misrepresentation in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(c), and constituted conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(h).

(Hat Tip: ABA Journal.)

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I agree "yahoo". It doesn't excuse his behavior, but you do what you gotta do. Everyone has heard "fake it til you make it". Maybe he just wanted an opportunity, and decided to start seeing what qualifications employers would actually respond.

Posted by: M | Apr 9, 2011 11:28:13 PM

Purdue —> Tufts could have been an attempt to curry favor with a particular hiring parnter.

Posted by: WestLooper | Apr 9, 2011 10:14:12 AM

The well-wisher in me can't help but wonder if he did this out of frustration or necessity. He may have submitted thousands of resumes to employers and received no responses. This probably happened during the 2008-2010 financial crisis. Maybe he just started changing things on his resume to see what would get a response.... The need to earn a living and feed one's family can cause people to do things they would not normally do.

Posted by: yahoo | Apr 9, 2011 7:28:34 AM

I know this guy. I had almost all my classes with him at BU and am still friends with him on Facebook. I had no idea he didn't graduate with us (it makes me want to go find my graduation program to check). I am beyond astounded at the facts of this story. He is a bright, congenial fellow and I would have never considered him capable of such behavior.

Posted by: ResIpsa | Apr 8, 2011 10:06:17 PM

All he got was a 6-month suspension? Nice to know how much integrity Massachusetts expects from its attorneys.

He does show great promise as a politician.

Posted by: jancpa | Apr 8, 2011 4:39:34 PM

I agree with GU. It would be nice to hear what was going through his head on the Purdue / Tufts switch. What is especially sad is that he had quality academic credentials regardless. Washington & Lee Law School is very good law school and Purdue is not too shabby either.

Posted by: Kona | Apr 8, 2011 1:25:49 PM

Six months? I wonder what one has to do to get a one-year suspension. Or a disbarment.

Posted by: Jim Maule | Apr 8, 2011 12:52:45 PM

The most puzzling move is the Purdue —> Tufts change. Is the difference between the two so meaningful that it is worth lying about? IMO he should have gone for broke and slapped MIT or Harvard on his résumé, or just kept Purdue.

Posted by: GU | Apr 8, 2011 11:32:19 AM