Womble Bond Dickinson copied another firm's article, removed the author's name and published it without permission.
On 10 November, Womble Bond Dickinson posted a 998-word analysis of a whistle-blowing case in the "Insights and briefings" section of its website. The commentary was not credited to an individual, although it did appear alongside contact details for a Womble Bond Dickinson associate.
It was also an almost exact reproduction of an article published on 3 November by Annika Neukirch, a lawyer at the Scottish firm Stronachs. Womble Bond Dickinson's plagiarism extended to cutting and pasting her entire piece except for eighteen words, which it changed slightly. It even copied across a typo, stating “As first instance” rather than “At first instance”.
A spokeswoman for Womble Bond Dickinson told RollOnFriday, "Thank you for bringing this to our attention. The similarity between the two articles is unfortunate and we will be reviewing our procedures to ensure such errors do not arise again". It has now removed the article. RollOnFriday asked how a blatant act of plagiarism could be an 'unfortunate error', but the firm did not respond.
|Feel free to play spot the difference between the two pieces.|
Eric Gilligan, partner and Head of Employment at Stronachs, told RollOnFriday that he was "surprised" and that despite contacting Womble Bond Dickinson, he had not received a response. Gilligan said, "Suffice it to say that no permission was given for the replication of our article and we draw our own inferences from the fact it has now been taken down".
Asked about the consequences of IP theft, an SRA spokesperson said, “We expect solicitors to act with integrity, to run their businesses properly, and not to undermine the trust the public places in the profession". He said, “If we find that a firm has failed to uphold the Principles or Code of Conduct, then we will take action appropriate to any misconduct”.
Plagiarism Corner is filling up. Fun fact: Womble Bond Dickinson ripped off Stronachs the very same day that RollOnFriday revealed WBD had itself been the victim of a copy & pasting barrister.
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