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When the president of the U.S. Olympic Committee resigned recently due to discrepancies in her r�sum�, all the other “ringers” I’ve seen came to mind. So did a sadness, recognizing that most r�sum� falsifications are unnecessary, add little to one’s candidacy, and once engaged in, have a history that lives long after the candidate has revised the r�sum�. Let me explain — and yes, gentle reader, this is where the technology slant comes in. It used to be that those who evaluate r�sum�s kept the paper copy of a candidate’s r�sum� for a finite period of time. Sometimes it got pitched after five years, sometimes it went to a remote warehouse, not to be seen unless subpoenaed. So if you falsely wrote that you were president of the Yale Political Union in 1978, 20 years later few would remember your lie, because that r�sum� was in that remote file drawer. No one was likely to compare it with your current version. But with the advent of electronic storage, I can scan your old r�sum� into your document file, compare it with your current r�sum�, and check discrepant patterns: jobs omitted, dates modified, honors left off or added. And, if you send me a revised r�sum� next year, I’ll have access to three different versions and will spot new “variations.” With so many lawyers laid off, some candidates may be tempted to “look better” by providing a revisionist version of their past. A prior version of their r�sum� that scrupulously noted months and years when jobs were changed now notes years only. So I ask: “When did you leave your firm?’ Usually the candidate ‘fesses up, acknowledging it was eight months ago and yes, they were laid off and have been looking since. THE STICKLERS Does it matter that someone has been laid off? Not much, at least to me, unless they lie. As a matter of fact, I try harder to help those who have been whacked. But it might matter to my client — the stickler who wants a record with no ambiguity. “Don’t send me someone who has been laid off,” they opine at the outset — but they might change their minds when they see how superbly relevant this lawyer’s background is. The stickler prefers forthright: “I was laid off. My references will attest to the quality of my work and the economic nature of the layoff.” The stickler does not like puffery. Did you first chair those trials? Did you actually depose those expert witnesses or were you merely in the room? Did you inherit those clients or did you build your own book of business? Does your practice generate $2 million a year in client billings, or is that your hope once you “change platforms?” Our database, and the stickler’s, stores transcripts too. Last year a candidate received an offer from a branch office. The parent office compared his new and former r�sum� and transcript and called us to report discrepancies. We only had the “new” version of each. Turns out there was an old and an “improved” version of the transcript. The offer would have been made on the strength of the “old” transcript but “improved” history plays poorly: The offer was rescinded. The old adage “don’t play with fire” also goes for truth. Martha Fay Africa, a member of the Law Technology News Editorial Advisory Board, is a founding member of Major, Hagen & Africa, and is based in its San Francisco office. E-mail: [email protected].

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