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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-2006-025

IN RE: ALEX SOUFFLAS

S.J.C. Order of Term Suspension entered by Justice Cowin on April 19, 2006, with an effective date of May 19, 2006.1
(Judgment of Reinstatement entered by Justice Cowin on March 9, 2007.)

SUMMARY2

The respondent entered law school in the fall of 1997. During his first year, he achieved a 3.43 GPA, but his grades dropped thereafter. Ultimately, the respondent was graduated from law school with a 2.99 GPA, placing him in the bottom half of his class.

After his graduation in 2000, the respondent worked full-time in the corporate section of a Boston law firm until 2002. In 2002, the respondent was laid off from the firm. In addition to two months’ severance pay, the respondent received out-placement assistance, but he did not find employment.

The respondent hired a placement firm to assist him with his job search. He supplied the firm with a copy of his resumé and law school transcript. The resumé reflected the respondent’s true GPA, and the transcript was an accurate copy of the respondent’s law school transcript.

The placement firm sent the respondent’s resumé and transcript to several law firms, including firms in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The respondent, who was only pursuing employment in the area of corporate securities, received no offers of employment.

In February 2003, in response to a job posting, the respondent sent a resumé and a transcript to a firm located in Pennsylvania. In this resumé, the respondent intentionally misrepresented that he had graduated “cum laude” with a GPA of 3.52 and that he ranked in the top 11% of his class. The respondent also altered the transcript to reflect a 3.52 GPA by photocopying letter grades from a copy of his actual transcript, cutting and pasting the higher letter grades over his true grades, and then photocopying the altered transcript until the evidence of alteration was removed.

Relying on the falsified resumé and transcript, a Pennsylvania law firm interviewed the respondent twice. In April 2003, the firm hired the respondent as an associate at an annual salary of $90,000. This salary was less than the respondent had previously earned at the Boston firm.

Dissatisfied with the salary, the respondent applied in July 2003 for a position at another law firm located in Philadelphia. The respondent again submitted the copies of the false resumé and altered transcript. Unbeknownst to the respondent, however, the placement firm he hired had previously sent his original resumé and a copy of his true transcript to the same Philadelphia firm.

A partner of the firm received both versions of the respondent’s resumé and transcript. The partner contacted the respondent and asked for an explanation of the discrepancies. The respondent initially denied knowing how the resumé and transcript came to be falsified. The partner then forwarded to the respondent the transcript and resumé he had received from the placement firm and the falsified resumé and transcript the respondent had sent and subsequently contacted the respondent for an explanation. The partner informed the respondent that he had an ethical obligation to report the respondent’s conduct to bar discipline authorities. The respondent then acknowledged that he had falsified the resumé and transcript, but urged the partner not to report him to bar authorities. The partner reported the discrepancies between copies of the respondent’s resumé and transcript to bar counsel.

This matter was tried to a special hearing officer of the Board of Bar Overseers on May 26, 2005. On October 27, 2005, the hearing officer issued his report finding the above facts and concluding that the respondent had violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(c) and (h) by falsifying his résumé and doctoring his transcript and by denying knowledge of the alterations to the partner at the Philadelphia law firm. The hearing officer considered the respondent’s use of the falsified résumé and transcript on the first occasion to be mitigated by the respondent’s financial distress upon the loss of his job. There was no mitigation found in the respondent’s use of the falsified documents to obtain a higher paying job.

The special hearing officer recommended that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for six months, with three months suspended on the condition that the respondent take twelve hours of continuing legal education in professional responsibility and legal ethics. Neither party appealed from the report. On March 28, 2006, Board of Bar Overseers voted unanimously to accept the special hearing officer’s findings of fact, but recommended that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for six months. On April 19, 2006, the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County (Cowin, J.) ordered that the respondent be suspended for six months.

1 The complete Order of the Court is available by contacting the Clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County.

2 Compiled by the Board of Bar Overseers based on the record before the Court.



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