The first and arguably most important action that Gordon Caplan took to protect his law license, despite having committed a felony in the college admissions bribery scandal, happened on May 21, 2019, when he stood up inside a federal courtroom and stated aloud his guilty-plea allocution in the scandal, according to several ethics and attorney discipline-focused lawyers and professors.

Caplan, the former Willkie Farr & Gallagher co-chairman and the most prominent attorney swept up in a scandal that produced national outrage, was pleading guilty that afternoon in Massachusetts to mail fraud conspiracy, a federal felony that had no direct, or “mirror-image,” analog to a New York state felony. Despite there being no direct state analog, he still needed to be careful, said the lawyers and professors, about how he worded his allocution, in which he would list wrongful acts that added up to his crime, because the allocution statements themselves could demonstrate that he’d committed an analog New York felony.

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