Insider Trading Trial Reveals Case of Harvard Law Student Who Altered His Transcript for Clerkship Applications

The insider trading trial of Mathew Martoma has revealed an interesting episode of his earlier life thanks to a motion under Rule 404(b), and specifically the time he was kicked out of Harvard Law School for falsifying his transcript when he applied for appellate clerkships. Martoma (then named Mathew Thomas) altered his law school transcript to have an almost straight A average before sending out clerkship applications. The altered grades would have made him among the top handful of students in the class.

On the basis of the transcript, Martoma interviewed with Judges Sentelle, Ginsburg, and Randolph on the DC Circuit. However, a law clerk in one judge’s chambers spotted the altered transcript and contacted Harvard Law’s registrar. (My recollection is that HLS transcripts in those days were completed on typewriters, so an HLS grad-turned-law-clerk familiar with HLS transcripts — and tipped off by grades so very high — could probably spot the forgery.) Caught with the altered transcript, Martoma then tried to pass the alteration off as a joke. Shortly thereafter, when one of the DC Circuit judges called to offer him a clerkship, he didn’t answer the call and sent out letters withdrawing his application. Appropriately, the Administrative Board recommended that Martoma be kicked out of school — and he was.

One more interesting detail. While a law student, Martoma had co-founded a student group, the Harvard Law School Society of Law and Ethics. Figures.

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