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Former Paul Hastings litigator disbarred following Bar Standards Board appeal

A former Paul Hastings consultant and barrister has been disbarred after it emerged that he had lied about his education and qualifications, following a successful appeal by the Bar Standards Board (BSB) against the earlier decision of an independent disciplinary tribunal to suspend him.

Announced today (22 January), the BSB appealed against a disciplinary tribunal, held in late September, which ordered that litigator Dennis O’Riordan be suspended from practice for three years after it was proved he had falsified a range of qualifications and achievements, including degrees from Harvard and Oxford University.

After being provided with new evidence by the barristers’ regulator on Monday (20 January), the Visitors to the Inns of Court increased the sentence to disbarment.

The September tribunal found that O’Riordan engaged in conduct which was dishonest or otherwise discreditable to a barrister.

It was held that, during an application to an unidentified chambers in November 2012, O’Riordan had included the following false educational qualifications on his CV; attendance at Radley College; an LLB at the University of East Anglia; a Bachelor of Arts at Oxford University; a Bachelor of Civil Laws at Oxford University; a Doctor of Philosophy at Oxford University; that he was an Eldon Scholar; a Master’s degree from the faculty of law at Harvard University; and that he was a member of the New York Bar.

The BSB’s head of professional conduct, Sara Down, said: ‘We welcome this decision to increase O’Riordan’s sentence from suspension to disbarment. The BSB felt strongly that the sentence of suspension did not go far enough and that allowing O’Riordan to return to practise would, given the extent of his dishonesty, have diminished public confidence in the profession and discredited the Bar. As a regulator with a duty to protect the public and safeguard clients we believe that the final sentence is proportionate to the conduct and right in all the circumstances.’

Prior to his role at Paul Hastings, O’Riordan was a partner at Cadwalader, group counsel for Nomura, general counsel for Sumitomo Finance and head of legal and tax at the London branch of the Republic National Bank of New York. O’Riordan did not dispute that the qualifications were false and therefore the BSB appeal only related to the level of sentence imposed.

Paul Hastings declined to comment.