Oh, come on now. Stop with the outrage. You're not truly shocked and horrified by that Paul Hastings partner who lied on his resume, are you? I know you would never do such an outrageous thing, but let's be honest: Aren't you somewhat impressed by what he pulled off?
I am. I think the man deserves a round of applause. Pulling the wool over the eyes of one firm is noteworthy enough, but it takes genuine talent and aplomb to fool two leading law firms.
In case you missed it, D. Thomas O'Riordan, erstwhile litigation partner at Paul Hastings's London office, was found to have fabricated major chunks of his CV. He listed degrees from Oxford and Harvard, plus admission to the New York and Irish bars that were all cut from whole cloth. The deception dates back to at least to 2007 when he started using his enhanced creds to shop for a new job. (In 2008, he was hired as a partner at Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft's London office, and then lateraled over to Paul Hastings.)
So what set O'Riordan (below) on the road to deception? I can't give you a psychological explanation, but let me offer a simplistic guess: He was giving elite law firms what they wanted—a candidate with the right pedigree. As we all know, those are clubby worlds—and it's hard to gain entry unless you wear the right school ties. And O'Riordan was clever enough to pick two schools (Oxford and Harvard) that would put him on top of the "must-have" list for legal employers.
But here's the twist in this whole twisted tale: Despite the fake credentials, O'Riordan was apparently a genuinely competent lawyer. RollOnFriday calls him "one of the top lawyers in the City," while The Lawyer reports that he was "well-liked" and "a key figure in London." (Before Cadwalader and Paul Hastings, he had also worked in top legal positions at Nomura, Sumitomo, Republic National Bank of New York, and two other British firms.)
The irony, of course, is that he was a perfectly decent lawyer, and those fancy degrees were meaningless ornaments. But he probably feared—perhaps correctly—that his resume might not have made it to the top of the heap without them. Ah, the vanity of the legal profession and its obsession with credentials!
But let's get back to the intriguing Mr. O'Riordan and his spectacular lies. How did he manage to fool so many for so long? Well, I think after he lied successfully the first time, he felt he was on a roll. The higher up you go on the corporate ladder, the less you're subject to scrutiny. Only the little people—paralegals, law students, and junior associates—are subject to school transcript checks and cavity searches.
But let me give you another theory why I think he passed so smoothly: He probably fit the part beautifully. Being a white, middle-aged male who looks like he could have just stepped off the golf course gives you instant credibility. In any endeavor.
E-mail Vivia Chen: firstname.lastname@example.org Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/lawcareeristRelated post: Ex-Paul Hastings Partner Out Over Faked Credentials.