Law Students and Character and Fitness
Get in and then out of law school, pass the bar, get practicing. That’s the dream. But there is one very important step before it comes true. The Character and Fitness review. Here are a few important Character and Fitness issues to think about now.
Was your law school application completely honest?
If you did not keep a copy of your completed application, get one from school. The Character and Fitness Committee (“Committee”) will have one sent to them. They will compare it to your Application for bar Admission. If there is a discrepancy or any omissions, you will be called to explain them. Further, if you failed to disclose something important on your application to law school, you may be required to amend that application; with the school having the right to revisit their decision to admit you.
Law school discipline?
Any problems while in law school will also be reported directly to the Committee by the school. They usually receive all the material related to the incident as well, giving them a good view of what happened. You need to make sure you know what your school file contains and make certain you report the incident on your Application for Admission honestly and completely. A dishonest recitation, or even a recitation that appears as trying to avoid accepting full responsibility, is viewed seriously by the Committee.
Criminal or driving violations?
Get a copy of your DMV driver’s abstract. Make sure the abstract is accurate and that your license is valid. The Committee views repeat offenders as persons without sufficient respect for the law. The same goes for unpaid fines or license suspensions. If you have had problems in the past, start now to put together copies of charging documents, receipts, etc. If you do not have documentation, the DMV abstract will list tickets, fines, and suspensions. You should go to any court for a Certificate of Conviction for any and all criminal charges brought against you. You will need to report every arrest, no matter how it was finally resolved.
You are allowed to have debt. The Committee takes a negative view of excessive debts or failures to make repayment. Setting up a payment plan can eliminate many debts from being held against your admission.
You will need to report any and all lawsuits, so start accumulating that information now.
Do it now, avoid the rush!
Go online and get a copy of the Application for Admission. See what applies to you and see what you may need to support your answers. Time spent now can make your admission sooner.
Also, if there are problems, having an explanation with supporting documents to submit with your application may help you avoid a prolonged investigation and/or hearing before a sub-committee. This can save you months of time and lots of legal fees.