Non-lawyer disqualified after falsely claiming legal qualifications
October 11, 2017
A non-lawyer who falsely claimed to hold legal qualifications when applying for employment has been disqualified from working for any law practice for 10 years.
On 25 May 2017, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal ordered that former Mildura resident Ms Lauren Godridge, now a resident of Hong Kong, was not a fit and proper person to be employed or paid in connection with the practice of law or to be involved in the management of a law practice. The orders were based on findings that she had lied about her qualifications and experience in three separate applications for employment.
The Victorian Legal Services Board told VCAT that in 2014 and 2015 Ms Godridge applied for three positions with different law firms in Mildura; first as a solicitor, then as a legal assistant, then finally as a law graduate. Ms Godridge was unsuccessful in obtaining employment as a solicitor, but was hired as both a legal assistant and, subsequently, a law graduate on the basis of the false and misleading applications.
The Board told VCAT that, in her application letters and resumes, Ms Godridge falsely claimed that she had completed a law degree with Honours, had been admitted to practice and had extensive legal experience as a commercial litigator, a Judge’s Associate and various in-house legal roles in both Hong Kong and Victoria.
Ms Godridge also claimed to hold memberships with the Law Institute of Victoria, the Australian Law Students Association and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia. Each of these claims was false.
VCAT heard that in 2011 Ms Godridge had also been found guilty of one charge of obtaining property by deception after she stole approximately $30,000 from a previous employer and had amended financial records in an attempt to avoid detection. Having been sentenced to a community-based order, Ms Godridge subsequently pleaded guilty to a charge for failing to comply with the order and was re-sentenced to a community correction order.
VCAT disqualified Ms Godridge from being employed by or paid in connection with the practice of law and from being involved in the management of a law practice for a period of ten years. Ms Godridge did not appear in person and was not represented at the hearing, but consented to the orders that were made.
Ms Godridge is now listed on the Non-lawyer disciplinary action page on the Board and Commissioner’s website.
The VCAT order is available for download.