Thursday, October 11, 2007

3L Candidate to Cal Bar Seeks Readers' Advice on C&F and DUI Issues

Posted by Alan Childress

I was sent this by a reader, who asks your advice in comments (or a new post, if the editors here want to weigh in).  Here is what the email says:

I'm a 3L seeking getting ready to seek admission in California in the next year.  I'd like your opinion (and everyone else's) as to what should be done about my situation...

I'm a 3L at a top 25 law school.  Recently, I was convicted of my second DUI (my second criminal conviction ever, and not in the same state as my first).  The first was three years ago, close to the start of law school.  I have done everything asked by the courts, all the alcohol awareness classes, and entered counseling a few months ago regarding the family issues that precipitated the second DUI in August 2007. (I confess, the first was an amateur mistake - that was simply a matter of my own stupidity).  Are there any other ideas as to what needs to be done for bar admittance or soundness of moral character?  Any ideas/suggestions would be appreciated.

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Dear 3L,

My suggestion is that you hire a respected California attorney who specializes in these issues. Your situation is not unusual and the California attorneys who do that kind of work will have the advice you need. Shoot me an email if you would like a referral.

Posted by: John Steele | Oct 11, 2007 7:09:14 AM

This is an issue I encounter with some frequency. First, don't ever drink and drive again. Another arrest/conviction will make matters far worse. Second, it may not be enough to comply with the court requirements. Contact the California Bar's program for alcohol rehabilitation, and if they will evaluate you, comply with whatever treatment regime they recommend. If they won't help (the D.C. program will counsel law students), get a medical evaluation for possible alcoholism and follow whatever program the evaluator proposes. Bar admission does not require past perfection, but will consider a responsible approach to a problem as an indicator of character and fitness.

Posted by: Mike Frisch | Oct 11, 2007 7:13:35 AM


Would you recommend that the 3L contact the State Bar *before* speaking with a California lawyer who routinely handles these matters for California applicants? This is an area where I'd recommend getting some "local knowledge" and developing a game plan before contacting the California State Bar.

Posted by: John Steele | Oct 11, 2007 7:53:32 AM

John's point is well taken--consult with counsel before contacting the Bar.

Posted by: Mike Frisch | Oct 11, 2007 8:29:30 AM

John's advice is (as always) entirely correct that the person should hire counsel familiar with the admissions process. A lawyer who specializes in this area will be able to guide the candidate in writing the bar application and, more importantly, dealing with the problem in a way to show the bar that a real life change is taking place (which is also necessary). The only thing I would add is that it will take a while for the 3L to get admitted (assuming passage of the bar exam, which is always a bit dicey in Calif.), perhaps two years or more depending on other circumstances. Peter Henning

Posted by: Peter Henning | Oct 12, 2007 6:45:06 AM

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