You’re Barred!

It’s good to know that the Bar metes out justice to members breaking its code; like Barrister Dennis ‘Tom’ O’Riordan who committed degree fraud in the most spectacular fashion and was found out. The full outcome of his tribunal before the Bar Tribunals and Disciplinary Service is here.

Suspicions were raised because he claimed to be an Eldon Scholar from the same year as one of the partners in the chambers to which he was applying. He was subsequently outed on legal news and gossip site RollonFriday. He’s been suspended for 3 years. Let’s hope that with their inside knowledge of the law, they will also push for criminal proceedings against him under the Fraud Act.

To quote one of my favourite movies, The Cannonball Run “If you’re going to be a bear, be a grizzly!” For years, O’Riordan had been claiming the following false educational qualifications and attainments:

  • Bachelor of Arts (First Class) Oxford University.
  • Bachelor of Civil Law (First Class) Oxford University,
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Oxford University,
  • LLB (Hons) (First Class) University of East Anglia
  • Master’s degree, Faculty of Law, Harvard University
  • Eldon Scholar, Oxford University
  • Member of the New York Bar
  • Member of the Irish Bar

All completely untrue or embellished. He did study Law at East Anglia – but didn’t get a First.  

The pity of it is that he appears to have been an extremely competent litigator, well-liked and respected with a proven track record. He was a legitimate member of the Bar with his real qualifications. He worked for a top firm with an excellent reputation, who must now be counting the cost to their brand and reputation in large multiples of billable hours.

They have so far declined to comment on their recruitment practices, but I suspect they will be currently under review.

Update 16th October.

I’m bemused by the subsequent reaction in the legal media to the case above. His employers have defended themselves saying that they recruit on reputation, not qualifications, and would not check up on senior hires. They argue that his competency is the most important factor and that he was a genuinely qualified barrister who gave a high quality service to clients.

Here’s an analogy that might make them rethink their views. Essentially we’re talking about counterfeit goods. If I buy a Hermès handbag, I want it to be Hermès, not a George at Asda lookalike*. Yes, the lookalike is a perfectly good quality handbag and fulfils its function, but I thought I was getting Hermès, and that’s what I paid for. In those terms, wouldn’t we all be straight down to Trading Standards to complain?

*George is a fantastic brand in its own right, but a supermarket own-brand nevertheless.

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Jayne Rowley

Jayne is Chief Executive at Graduate Prospects and Hedd

2 thoughts on “You’re Barred!”

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