Legal Law

Lawyer Altered The Date Of Emails To Make It Look Like He Was ‘Maintain[ing] Up With Work,’ Will get Booted From Occupation

Yes, being a lawyer is a stressful, deadline-filled endeavor. But one thing you absolutely, positively should not do is fake the data and time on emails to make it look like you were diligent and on top of your job when, you know, you weren’t. No ethics regulator is going to take kindly to that kind of active deception. And you just might find yourself on the outside of the profession looking in.

English attorney Daniel Hall — formerly of Bermans Solicitors — found this particular lesson out the hard way. As reported by Legal Cheek, Hall was asked by a colleague to provide coverage while she was on vacation in the summer of 2019 (remember vacations?!?!). But that didn’t go as expected, and Hall misled the colleague about the progress on the cases he was covering:

Hall is said to have created two emails with the dates and times removed in an apparent attempt to obscure when they were sent. However, when the colleague queried the emails, the trainee maintained they had been sent as requested and produced the same two emails but with altered dates and times.

Apparently something still didn’t check out to the colleague, and she did some digging of her own with IT. That… didn’t turn out so well for Hall. The IT department confirmed the dates and times were wrong. The firm called a meeting with Hall and confronted him with this evidence, and he admitted his wrongdoing. The firm gave Hall a warning and reported him to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

In its ethics decision, the SRA went after his conduct, saying it “makes it undesirable for him to be involved in a legal practice because he has admitted he was dishonest,” and “caused the client to be misled on the progress of their instructions.”

Hall said his personal circumstances led to a “significant amount of worry and distraction.” And also noted he “felt under pressure from his workload” and he took to the deception because he was “trying to keep up with his work.” However, the SRA was unimpressed with the excuses and banned him from working in the legal profession, saying his action “undermines the public’s trust in the provision of legal services and the solicitors’ profession.”

Seriously, any time a lawyer finds themselves compromising the integrity of documentation for the sake of their career, well, bigger problems are likely ahead.

Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).

Related Articles