Former Willkie Chairman Suspended for Paying $75K to Boost Daughter’s ACT Score

Gordon Caplan, former co-chairman of Willkie Farr & Gallagher, has been suspended from practicing law for two years for his participation in the infamous college admissions scandal and paying to boost his daughter’s ACT score.

ACT scandalPhoto Credit: Shutterstock

The Appellate Division’s First Judicial Department of the New York Supreme Court said the suspension is retroactive to November 2019, when Caplan was initially suspended after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

At that time, he admitted to paying Rick Singer $75,000 to have an ACT proctor manipulate his daughter’s exam score by correcting her wrong answers. Caplan claims his daughter was unaware of this arrangement. Following his guilty plea, he also spent a month in prison.

Caplan is among 57 people charged by federal prosecutors for conspiring with California consultant Rick Singer to fraudulently secure their children’s admissions to prestigious universities across the nation. He’s also among 30 parents who have pleaded guilty to the charges, two of the most famous being Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman.

Although New York automatically disbars lawyers convicted of state felonies or “essentially similar” crimes, Caplan’s case was considered unique and he was allowed to argue his federal crime did not meet that standard.

The appeals panel stated it was clear that Caplan’s focus was “not on the immorality and illegality of his actions but on not getting caught, and he continued with the scheme despite numerous opportunities to walk away.”

In his personal testimony during the disciplinary hearing, Caplan was critical of his actions and seemed to express some regret.

“This was hubris. It was arrogant,” he said. “It was about me, not about my child. That took a lot of self-realization. It was deep insecurity, I think. I frankly think a lot of people in my former profession have this notion of having to prove yourself all the time. It overwhelmed me and it destroyed my life. I destroyed my life.”

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