Legal Ethics

U of C Law Grad Accused of Submitting Phony Grades to Sidley Austin

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Updated: A lawyer who attended the University of Chicago Law School has been accused in an ethics complaint of lying about his grades when he applied for a summer position at Sidley Austin.

Loren Elliotte Friedman is accused in a complaint filed May 6 by the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. He was listed as an associate at Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle in New York on the firm’s website earlier Tuesday, but his name was removed by the afternoon.

Joseph Pizzurro, managing partner of Curtis Mallet-Prevost, told that Friedman, a bankruptcy associate, disclosed the bar complaint to the law firm on Friday and submitted his resignation.

The complaint says Friedman altered transcripts of his law school grades in 20 classes to reflect better grades than he received. Friedman worked at Sidley Austin the summer of 2002, and the firm extended an employment offer for him to begin work as an associate in 2003.

The complaint also alleges that Friedman failed to reveal he flunked out of medical school in his application to law school, and that he failed to disclose the altered law school transcripts in his bar application.

Friedman did not accept the full-time job offer with Sidley Austin, said his lawyer, George Collins. He said the bar is accusing Friedman of altering his grades to obtain the summer job, “and then he was offered a law job as a result of his good work as a summer associate.” Sidley Austin was the source of the complaint to the Illinois bar, he said.

Collins is preparing an answer to the bar complaint and said he could not comment on its contents at this time.

Pizzurro said he was shocked to learn of the ethics complaint. “I can’t say that this is something that anybody would have foreseen,” he said.

Pizzurro said he does not know if Friedman’s grades were altered in his application with Curtis Mallet-Prevost, but the law firm generally does not check the accuracy of law school transcripts. “We generally will take it at face value if someone submits what looks like an authentic transcript,” he said.

Curtis Mallet-Prevost performs the checks done by most law firms: It makes sure a lawyer is a bar member in good standing, and it checks references, according to Pizzurro.

When asked if Curtis Mallet-Prevost would change its procedures because of the allegations, Pizzurro replied, “We’re going to have to give that some thought.”

Representatives of Sidley Austin did not return e-mails or phone calls.

The Legal Profession Blog reported on the allegations by the Illinois ARDC in a post entitled “Trifecta Alleged.”

Updated at 7 p.m. on 5/20/2008 to incorporate comments by Joseph Pizzurro and at 9:15 a.m. on 5/21/2008 to include comments by George Collins.

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