You don't need to tell me how frustrating it is to find a job when you have a J.D. When you throw in the lousy economy and the fact that I'd like to find a somewhat respectable non-legal position (for which I'm supposedly "overqualified"), the situation is downright maddening.
I've written before about the great dilemma: whether to remove the JD and have a gap in experience on your resume or keep it on and be dismissed as over-educated before you can even get an interview.
This isn't a pretty choice, and veering in either direction can leave you unemployed and without any interviews. It's particularly bad if all of your professional experience is law related. I can imagine that if you've actually worked in law for a few years, dropping your JD, etc. from your resume isn't even an option anymore.
This situation leaves the job applicant with a strong temptation to lie. I've joked about this in the past, but it was only a joke. Lying on your resume is a bad idea.
This doesn't mean you can't skillfully market yourself. Only including relevant education and work experience (as long as it's labeled as such) is fine. After all, if you have a computer science degree and you're applying for a programming job, why include the JD if it's not at all relevant? If you were treasurer of both a controversial political club on campus and later the treasurer of your student government, you may want to include the club only if you're looking to work for a like minded organization and just mention your time as student body treasurer for all other positions.
Lying, however, will get you into trouble. Interviewers may eventually push you to bring up your JD or any other aberrations they see in your resume. If they do, be honest and explain away these issues as best you can. (I provide a hint for dealing with the JD in the post I linked to above.)
Moreover, lying out of the gate is even a worse idea. Once you go down that road it'll be hard to stop yourself before you're caught. What are you going to do, extend the date for which you worked for a company through law school? What if they call your former employer? Not only will you be busted by the potential employer to which you're applying, you'll ruin your good name with (and likely future references from) your former employer as well.
Are you going to make up a job? Do you plan to give your friend a cell phone and ask her to greet everyone with "Vandelay Industries!"when it rings? (This didn't work out too well for George Constanza.) This is the age of the internet; are you going to build a fake website for your fake company? Don't even think about using a real company when all of their contact information is available online.
Are you going to claim that you spent the last three years caring for a sick relative, backpacking through Europe, or helping out poor people in a foreign land? Not only is this particularly sleazy - not only lying about law school but also emphasizing altruistic personality traits you clearly don't have -but you'd have to find a company that would value this sort of experience. Most hard nosed corporations aren't looking for "free spirits" who decided to live abroad for three years to forgo being in the workforce.
Plus, wouldn't such avenues (at least in the latter two cases) naturally lend themselves to some stories in which your co-workers may take an interest? You better hope you can keep your story straight.
"So, Ralph what was it like to travel around Europe for three years?"
"Oh, it was great - I went to London, St. Petersburg, and Sydney."
"Uh, isn't Sydney in Australia?"
"Oh, I meant, uh, Sydney, Italy - it's a small town with, uh, good pizza...Speaking of which, who wants to get a slice?"
This also alludes to an additional problem - keeping the lie going. Don't other people know you went to law school? Better hope you can keep your parents, classmates, and (yikes!) exes away from your boss. Are you just going to continue on for years at a company telling tales about what you did during your three years "not at law school" and be able to keep your mouth shut any time a legal topic or (heaven forbid!) the issue of law school comes up? What if there's a job or promotion available where having work experience and a JD would be an asset?
Sure, this could make for a funny sitcom. (Hmm, NBC, call me. This can't be worse than the junk you're currently airing.) Nevertheless, it won't be very fun in the real world where you'll have to walk around on eggshells.
Also, don't forget, if you're a licensed attorney, you're still subject to discipline or disbarment for any misconduct you commit even outside of your role as an attorney. You may not care about practicing law, but having a professional license suspended or yanked isn't the sort of thing that you probably want on your record regardless of the jobs for which you're applying.
Above the Law recently reported that an attorney got busted for doctoring his transcript. He was later caught when he applied for jobs with his real transcript. Now, you may think this guy got sloppy. Maybe he did. There an old saw, however, that says: If you never lie, you don't have to worry about remembering what you said (or did) in the past.
We don't have much, my fellow law school scam victims, but let's at least keep our integrity.