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A new year reminder to check CVs

Posted by: Laurence Simons 08/01/15

Legal recruitment can run much more smoothly with the help of a recruitment agency - not least one that will properly check the credentials of candidates.

As this is the new year and everyone is making resolutions, legal firms seeking to hire new staff may benefit from making sure their checks are rigorous when hiring staff.

Like any other employer, any firm seeking to hire someone new will be hoping to see some impressive CVs, but it is important to ensure they really are all they claim to be.

If ever the importance of this for legal firms has been emphasised, the recent case of fake lawyer Kimberley Kitchen should provide a cautionary tale.

According to Above The Law, the news that she was practising without having the right credentials only emerged after some considerable time. To be precise, Pennsylvania firm BMZ Law Offices had taken her on a decade ago, shortly after she apparently graduated from Duquesne University School of Law in 2005. She also claimed on her LinkedIn profile to have worked as a paralegal at Reed Smith from 1987 to 1998.

In all this time, nobody twigged that Ms Kitchen wasn't actually a qualified lawyer at all, but a phoney who had been using someone else's attorney ID number.

So taken in was BMZ that it even made her a partner in April last year. However, just before Christmas a State Attorney General office investigation finally rumbled her: the number could not be hers as there was nobody called Kimberley Kitchen on its register.

BMZ said: "Sadly, it would appear that our firm was the last, in a long line of professionals, to have been deceived by Ms Kitchen into believing she was licensed to practice law." It has now promised to conduct a "thorough review of each and every file" Ms Kitchen handled in her time. If only it had done likewise with her CV, or used a recruitment agency to do this.

It appears the case of Ms Kitchen may not be the only one of its kind in the US.

In Utah, 29-year-old Carla Kabo was arrested late last month and faces allegations that she stole the ID of a real lawyer, using it to set up a law firm and even negotiating a plea bargain in court on behalf of one client.