Did you have to check "Yes"?

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )

Should law school applications ask about ANY and ALL prior convictions?

No
9
15%
Yes
33
54%
Yes, but only felonies
15
25%
Yes, but only recent convictions (within past 5 years)
4
7%
 
Total votes: 61

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sunshinefairy
Posts: 126
Joined: Mon Mar 08, 2010 5:47 pm

Did you have to check "Yes"?

Postby sunshinefairy » Thu Mar 11, 2010 7:05 pm

Do you think having a prior conviction really hurts your chances at getting into a school? Should the question be removed/limited/changed?

In my current position, I worked to "ban the box" on public job applications in New Mexico - why not for public education institutions as well?

(Full story here: http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/spe ... er_reentry)

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JollyGreenGiant
Posts: 995
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2007 9:12 pm

Re: Did you have to check "Yes"?

Postby JollyGreenGiant » Thu Mar 11, 2010 7:09 pm

To be honest, no one will ever know how much something hurts you.

You could blame your PS, your undergrad prestige, your conviction, your LORs, your W on your transcript.

There are just soooo many elements that I think a person will never know exactly why he/she got denied unless they are told.

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UF Gators
Posts: 207
Joined: Mon Mar 30, 2009 12:57 am

Re: Did you have to check "Yes"?

Postby UF Gators » Thu Mar 11, 2010 7:12 pm

Depends on what the conviction was for.

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voice of reason
Posts: 264
Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2009 12:18 am

Re: Did you have to check "Yes"?

Postby voice of reason » Thu Mar 11, 2010 7:13 pm

A conviction ought to hurt your chances. Lawyers work in positions of trust. As such, they should have unimpeachable character. A criminal record may raise doubts about one's integrity, so the question is appropriate. Practically speaking, it also helps schools screen out applicants who have little chance of ever securing Bar membership anyway.

If the conviction is for something minor, and is well in the past, and the applicant addresses it appropriately in an addendum, there is no need for it to hurt his or her chances at all, but that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with having the question on the application.

Aqualibrium
Posts: 2011
Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2009 5:57 am

Re: Did you have to check "Yes"?

Postby Aqualibrium » Thu Mar 11, 2010 7:18 pm

I think people actually put emphasis in the wrong place with regards to where/how convictions actually hurt you. IMO (and somewhat limited experience) schools look at convictions more as a way to gauge whether you'll actually be able to pass character and fitness when you graduate.

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Billy Blanks
Posts: 107
Joined: Fri Oct 16, 2009 3:08 pm

Re: Did you have to check "Yes"?

Postby Billy Blanks » Thu Mar 11, 2010 7:23 pm

voice of reason wrote:A conviction ought to hurt your chances. Lawyers work in positions of trust. As such, they should have unimpeachable character. A criminal record may raise doubts about one's integrity, so the question is appropriate. Practically speaking, it also helps schools screen out applicants who have little chance of ever securing Bar membership anyway.

If the conviction is for something minor, and is well in the past, and the applicant addresses it appropriately in an addendum, there is no need for it to hurt his or her chances at all, but that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with having the question on the application.


Voice of reason, indeed.

jackster2
Posts: 53
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2009 3:22 pm

Re: Did you have to check "Yes"?

Postby jackster2 » Thu Mar 11, 2010 7:32 pm

Convictions are one thing but many apps ask for any CHARGES, not just convictions. What happened to innocent until proven guilty. Why should charges ever be anybodies business if no conviction?

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j.wellington
Posts: 265
Joined: Wed Dec 23, 2009 11:09 am

Re: Did you have to check "Yes"?

Postby j.wellington » Thu Mar 11, 2010 9:28 pm

I think it's appropriate to ask these types of questions, but I do wish that law schools would commit to some across-the-board consistency about how the questions are worded, or perhaps even have the ABA draft a standard. A few schools have the sort of catch-all "have you ever been charged with anything" wording, but others are unnecessarily ambiguous. It becomes even more confusing when you have to take into account the ways different jurisdictions classify certain violations and procedures. Given the stakes, a little more clarity would go a long way.

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kswiss
Posts: 391
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 1:58 am

Re: Did you have to check "Yes"?

Postby kswiss » Thu Mar 11, 2010 9:38 pm

I prefered the "list all issues other than minor traffic and parking violations" which was most of mine.

Then there was one that specifically said "even minor traffic and parking violations." WTF? I don't see how that has any bearing on character and fitness or your ability to do well in law school, unless there are hundreds.

For that school, I had to write an addendum about getting a ticket for "failure to maintain lane position." No DUI, and it was $20 and traffic school after being reduced. What a waste of time looking up the dates and charges etc.

erniesto
Posts: 298
Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2009 10:56 pm

Re: Did you have to check "Yes"?

Postby erniesto » Thu Mar 11, 2010 9:51 pm

Prior convictions should be a prereq for practicing criminal law.

:lol:

twopoodles
Posts: 107
Joined: Mon Nov 02, 2009 1:42 pm

Re: Did you have to check "Yes"?

Postby twopoodles » Thu Mar 11, 2010 10:01 pm

I agree with the movement to remove the box from employment applications and think, in general, most education applications already lack the box (don't they?), but, I agree with having it on law applications (exception for traffic violations, though, because that's just silly). Pursuing a law degree, to me, makes the question relevant--convictions might demonstrate a lack of respect for law itself. I'm sure that this is not always the case, but how can a law school evaluate it unless they ask?

jackster2
Posts: 53
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2009 3:22 pm

Re: Did you have to check "Yes"?

Postby jackster2 » Thu Mar 11, 2010 10:07 pm

Then why are there freguent thread about pot in law school and performance enhancing drugs? Illegal behavior ok but not getting caught???

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Sangiovese
Posts: 206
Joined: Mon Dec 28, 2009 2:38 pm

Re: Did you have to check "Yes"?

Postby Sangiovese » Thu Mar 11, 2010 10:59 pm

jackster2 wrote:Convictions are one thing but many apps ask for any CHARGES, not just convictions. What happened to innocent until proven guilty. Why should charges ever be anybodies business if no conviction?


TITCR

User avatar
Trifles
Posts: 159
Joined: Thu Oct 22, 2009 10:55 pm

Re: Did you have to check "Yes"?

Postby Trifles » Thu Mar 11, 2010 11:10 pm

I think its ridiculous that some apps want to know about suspensions from highschool. At my high school they gave them out instead of detentions, I don't even remember all the times I got suspended.

User avatar
voice of reason
Posts: 264
Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2009 12:18 am

Re: Did you have to check "Yes"?

Postby voice of reason » Fri Mar 12, 2010 1:13 am

Billy Blanks wrote:
voice of reason wrote:A conviction ought to hurt your chances. Lawyers work in positions of trust. As such, they should have unimpeachable character. A criminal record may raise doubts about one's integrity, so the question is appropriate. Practically speaking, it also helps schools screen out applicants who have little chance of ever securing Bar membership anyway.

If the conviction is for something minor, and is well in the past, and the applicant addresses it appropriately in an addendum, there is no need for it to hurt his or her chances at all, but that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with having the question on the application.


Voice of reason, indeed.


There should be a rebuttable presumption that a conviction makes an applicant less desirable. An appropriate explanation may neutralize the problem.




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