Monday, September 12, 2011

Law School Interns and Bar Admission

The Georgia Supreme Court affirmed the denial of an applicant's certification of fitness to practice law.

The applicant had attended John Marshall Law School and had denied any criminal history despite three misdemeanor convictions. When the issue was uncovered by the bar, he sought to amend his law school application.

 While in law school, he served as an unpaid intern for the Atlanta Metro Conflict Defender's Office. He had a disagreement with a senior staff attorney and left court without asking permission. He then sent the attorney e-mails "in which he used veiled and actual profanity." He was terminated from the internship.

The applicant then failed to disclose his family violence battery conviction in his bar application.  He blamed the problem on a computer error. He then explained that he could be trusted with vulnerable clients "[p]robably because I am not going to marry them."

The hearing officer found he was remorseful but that '[his] conduct, as a whole, could not be justified." 

In a second matter, the court also affirmed the denial of a fitness certification of an applicant with "a criminal history [that] includes numerous arrests, felony and misdemeanor convictions, and six DUI convictions, and spans almost thirty years, extending not just from his youth but into his mid-forties. The last illegal actcited in the application occurred only seven years prior to the formal hearing [on his bar application."

He also had not been fully candid with his law school concerning his criminal history and was still amending his law school admission application at the time of the hearing.

The court found that his work as a law school intern for credit was not a pro bono type activity:

...much of his community service was in the form of legal externships for which he received law school credit, and thus, although it was well-established that he performed diligently, these activities were not undertaken purely for philanthropic reasons.

 (Mike Frisch)

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