Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Are Bars Looking More Closely at Character and Fitness?

The Georgia Supreme Court recently denied certificates of fitness to two bar applicants, in part because they had failed to disclose prior criminal records on their law school applications. It is difficult to tell from the report, but the criminal histories seemed to include largely minor offenses; neither seems to have ever been incarcerated. According to ALM’s Daily Report, Southern Illinois Law School Associate Dean Frank Houdek students need to be more aware of the risk of nondisclosure than in the past:

In the last five to seven years, said Houdek, bar admissions officials are looking more closely at applicants with troubled pasts. "I think the admissions committees are kind of saying, 'Let's not admit somebody who's got a problem,'" Houdek said.

Richardson Lynn, Dean of Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School emphasizes the need to warn incoming students of the need to come clean:

Filling out their applications initially, said Lynn, some students think their "stupid college tricks" aren't serious enough to report, or erroneously believe a criminal misstep has been expunged.

"We give it to them with fire and brimstone," said Lynn. "The associate dean for academics is incredibly blunt, saying, 'We need to fix this now, because it's going to be a bigger problem if it lingers for three years and the board finds out about it.'"

At my law school, incoming students are given a grace period in which to amend the disclosures they made when they first applied to our school.



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