The Paper Chase

With degreed lawyers facing one of the toughest job markets in history and law schools across the nation scaling back their incoming classes, there are still a significant number of people working to become lawyers or dreaming of doing so. Now, we’re hearing reports about a Dallas woman was so entranced with the idea of having her own J.D. that she allegedly forged a law degree from the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law and staged her own graduation.

Michelle Fyfe reportedly talked with friends and co-workers about her pursuit of a law degree at SMU while she worked in the billing department at a Dallas cardiologist’s office. However, SMU officials say Fyfe has never been enrolled at SMU, and certainly never graduated from the school in August 2011 despite her displaying a law degree purportedly issued by the university. Representatives for a Dallas hotel confirmed to reporters that Fyfe reserved space for a graduation party in late August. Fyfe responded to questions from the media about her alleged degree and graduation party by saying she was contacting an attorney about responding to the claims. The university issued a letter threatening legal action if Fyfe continued to tell people she had graduated from the school, and her attorney told reporters that she would abide by the demands. Creating a “fraudulent, substandard or fictitious” law degree is a Class B misdemeanor.

People may say they hate lawyers, but cases like these show that – despite the media’s fondness for lawyer bashing – a law degree is still a sought-after commodity.  In some cases, even a fake one. 


Posted: 7/18/2012 11:37:59 AM by Editor | with 0 comments

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About This Blog

Thanks for stopping by On the Merits, the first blog from the Texas Center for Legal Ethics. On the Merits will take a close look at significant legal stories with an eye toward addressing the legal myths and misconceptions that turn up in news stories, movies, TV programs, websites, anonymous emails and other forms of mass communications. Our goal at On the Merits is to provide readers with a thoughtful examination of what the media and others are saying about the legal profession and to apply the frequently-absent context of how the legal system actually works.

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