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Plagiarist solicitor suspended for 6 months

February 22nd, 2010 · No Comments

In Legal Services Commissioner v WJK [2010] VCAT 108, a sole practitioner who has written a legal text and published a number of articles succumbed to temptation when the pressures of life got to him and meant he did not have time to do a proper job of writing a 10,000 word research paper for his Master of Health and Medical Law at Melbourne Uni.  He plagiarised extensively from two published articles which he did not acknowledge at all. I can tell you, I presently have the greatest of sympathy for full-time lawyers who have to squeeze Masters study into their lives.  But I must confess to a degree of incomprehension as to why the solicitor, having gotten away with the plagiarism and garnered a good mark, thought publishing the plagiarism in the Journal of Law and Medicine was a good idea.

He made admissions at an early stage after he was caught out, but persisted to the end of the misconduct hearing with mitigatory evidence which was rejected as implausible.  He pleaded guilty to two counts of professional misconduct at common law which specifically alleged that his plagiarism was deliberate.  His practising certificate was cancelled and he will not be getting a new one within 6 months of the cancellation taking effect.

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Tags: "disgraceful and dishonourable" · common law · Discipline · Legal writing · Misconduct