Biglaw, Crime, Law Schools, Texas

Texas Woman Accused of Forging Law Degree, Faking Biglaw Summer Associate Position

Even though the job market for new lawyers is still stagnant and depressing, going to and graduating from law school, especially a highly-ranked law school, is still looked upon by friends and family as a huge accomplishment. It’s something to be proud of, something to brag about.

After all, law school graduates have completed three to four years of relatively difficult work, and most take a state bar examination — neither of which is viewed as a simple feat by the general public. Factor into this equation being a middle-aged working mother, and these achievements seem even greater.

Imagine what would happen if someone claimed that she had finished all of this rigorous legal training, when in fact, she never had. It’s all pomp and circumstance until someone discovers that you’ve allegedly been lying through your teeth for years.

That is exactly what happened in Texas recently, and now campus officials are investigating a woman who claims that she attended a law school that was, until recently, a top 50 law school in the U.S. News rankings….

The Dallas Morning News (sub. req.) has the full story on this alleged deception:

Michelle Fyfe

Southern Methodist University police are investigating whether a North Dallas woman forged a law degree from the Dedman School of Law and staged her own graduation.

Michelle Fyfe, 43, is suspected of having or producing a “fraudulent, substandard or fictitious degree,” a Class B misdemeanor, according to SMU officials.

Co-workers and friends of Fyfe or her family say that she spoke frequently about attending law school at SMU and claimed that she graduated in August 2011. They said she showed off a diploma with the signatures of a fictitious SMU president and law school dean.

According to the university registrar, Fyfe has never been enrolled as a student at SMU, at the law school or otherwise. But that didn’t stop her from claiming that she graduated from Dedman Law last year. Fyfe also allegedly drew up a diploma for an August graduation ceremony that never occurred — the law school’s official graduation ceremony is in May — and hired an event planner to organize her faux graduation party.

Take a look at Fyfe’s purported handiwork for yourself:

As a tipster so aptly put, “Look at this idiot. Forged an SMU law degree and didn’t even get the President and Dean’s name right.” For the record, John Attanasio is the dean of SMU Law, and R. Gerald Turner is the president of the university.

And what’s more is that according to the Dallas Morning News (sub. req.), Fyfe claimed on her résumé that she had served as both a spring and summer associate at Haynes and Boone. Looks like this alleged huckster didn’t get an offer, because Fyfe told coworkers and friends that she had taken — and presumably passed — the bar exam, and was currently “seeking work as an attorney.” HayBoo claims it has no record of her name as an employee or intern on the books.

If the allegations against her are true, Michelle Fyfe is no Frank Abagnale Jr. — if you’re going to produce a fraudulent law degree, at least have the good sense to do it correctly. It’s not hard to run a simple Google search to figure out the date of a law school’s graduation or the identity of a university’s president.

F**kin’ internet, how does it work? Looks like Michelle Lee Fyfe never found out.

SMU police investigate whether North Dallas woman forged law degree [Dallas Morning News (sub. req.)]

Earlier: How Did the Class of 2011 Fare in the Legal Job Market?

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