Applying to Law School with a Criminal Record

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lion24
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Applying to Law School with a Criminal Record

Postby lion24 » Wed Jun 23, 2010 5:41 pm

I have been doing my research and looking at other topics relating to people applying to law school with criminal records, but I think mine is a different situation and may hurt my chances even more than others who apply with a criminal record. In August 2008, I was 20 years old and working for Nordstrom. I was arrested there for grand theft but convicted of petty theft later on. I was stupid and selfish and have changed my ways from then. What happened though was that I was a sales associate and returned items that i had bought, without actually bringing them back. I returned about $700 worth of stuff, which was considered grand theft and a felony, but my attorney was able to bring it down to petty theft and a misdemeanor charge since it was my first offense. Since 2008, I have become more productive, raising my gpa to a final 3.45 and volunteering at different places. My record will be expunged in October 2010.

I was wondering if you thought that because I had actually been an employee and stole from my employer, it would be a worse situation. I haven't taken my LSAT yet because I was worried about my stupid mistake. Do you think I should even apply to law schools? What are my chances of being accepted if I explain myself properly in a personal statement and get a LSAT score of around 160?

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JWicker10
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Re: Applying to Law School with a Criminal Record

Postby JWicker10 » Wed Jun 23, 2010 5:49 pm

Not great, you need to do well on the LSAT and your GPA isn't stellar.


Schools dislike criminal records for a number of reasons, but largely because they fear that the student will not be eligible for the admittance to the bar. However, it sounds like that wouldn't be a salient issue for you seeing as how your record is going to be expunged. If expunged, are you even required to disclose your past to the schools? I don't know a lot about admittance with a criminal record, but I do know the reasoning. Hope this helps.

ScaredWorkedBored
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Re: Applying to Law School with a Criminal Record

Postby ScaredWorkedBored » Wed Jun 23, 2010 5:59 pm

Expungement is almost never effective for bar admission purposes. They tend to ask about it regardless of disposition and they will ask for records that are not covered by a court expungement to make sure you told the truth. In OP's case, it'll also come out because OP will have to tell the bar he was terminated for theft of $700 of stuff from the employer in the scope of his employment (just taking a wild guess he was terminated here...).

OP can't run from this. Theft is not good, recent criminal activity is not good and committing fraud on your employer is not good. No other way to slice it, really. Doesn't mean he won't be admitted, but he's going to get more scrutiny than the typical dumbshit "criminal" records people raise such as high school vandalism or underage drinking.

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JWicker10
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Re: Applying to Law School with a Criminal Record

Postby JWicker10 » Wed Jun 23, 2010 6:04 pm

ScaredWorkedBored wrote:Expungement is almost never effective for bar admission purposes. They tend to ask about it regardless of disposition and they will ask for records that are not covered by a court expungement to make sure you told the truth. In OP's case, it'll also come out because OP will have to tell the bar he was terminated for theft of $700 of stuff from the employer in the scope of his employment (just taking a wild guess he was terminated here...).

OP can't run from this. Theft is not good, recent criminal activity is not good and committing fraud on your employer is not good. No other way to slice it, really. Doesn't mean he won't be admitted, but he's going to get more scrutiny than the typical dumbshit "criminal" records people raise such as high school vandalism or underage drinking.


True. And OP was over 18 when committing the crime.

Miniver
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Re: Applying to Law School with a Criminal Record

Postby Miniver » Wed Jun 23, 2010 6:09 pm

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Last edited by Miniver on Tue Jul 06, 2010 7:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

lion24
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Re: Applying to Law School with a Criminal Record

Postby lion24 » Wed Jun 23, 2010 6:12 pm

well I figured that IF i got into law school, and was able to pass the Bar, it would be about 6 or 7 years after I committed the crime, so it wouldn't really be considered "recent criminal activity." But i am fully aware that even though I will be getting my record expunged, I am going to have to state it on my law school admissions because it will look bad if the Bar sees that I did not state that i was convicted of a crime...even if it was expunged.

Miniver
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Re: Applying to Law School with a Criminal Record

Postby Miniver » Wed Jun 23, 2010 6:17 pm

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Last edited by Miniver on Tue Jul 06, 2010 7:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

sumus romani
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Re: Applying to Law School with a Criminal Record

Postby sumus romani » Wed Jun 23, 2010 6:24 pm

lion24 wrote:well I figured that IF i got into law school, and was able to pass the Bar, it would be about 6 or 7 years after I committed the crime, so it wouldn't really be considered "recent criminal activity." But i am fully aware that even though I will be getting my record expunged, I am going to have to state it on my law school admissions because it will look bad if the Bar sees that I did not state that i was convicted of a crime...even if it was expunged.



You should contact the bar association for the state you want to practice in to talk about this. I've proofread PSs from people in which they say that they've spoken to the BA of the state in which they want to practice and they think that they will be admitted. You need to say something like this in your PS. Also, since this just happened in 2008, law schools will view this as too recent to just overlook.

RPK34
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Re: Applying to Law School with a Criminal Record

Postby RPK34 » Wed Jun 23, 2010 6:28 pm

The bar examiners, from what I've heard, I particularly considered with financial misconduct occuring between attorneys and their clients. You've already shown yourself as someone susceptible to those types of wrong doings. I think you should be very concerned about your chance to ever practice even if you are admitted to a law school.

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funkblaster
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Re: Applying to Law School with a Criminal Record

Postby funkblaster » Wed Jun 23, 2010 6:35 pm

It really depends on the state. Some states are pretty easy-going, and others...aren't. If you want to practice in a particular state, check it out. They definitely seem to frown on embezzlement and that type of crime, but I don't know about your situation.

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bernie shmegma
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Re: Applying to Law School with a Criminal Record

Postby bernie shmegma » Wed Jun 23, 2010 7:34 pm

lion24 wrote:I have been doing my research and looking at other topics relating to people applying to law school with criminal records, but I think mine is a different situation and may hurt my chances even more than others who apply with a criminal record. In August 2008, I was 20 years old and working for Nordstrom. I was arrested there for grand theft but convicted of petty theft later on. I was stupid and selfish and have changed my ways from then. What happened though was that I was a sales associate and returned items that i had bought, without actually bringing them back. I returned about $700 worth of stuff, which was considered grand theft and a felony, but my attorney was able to bring it down to petty theft and a misdemeanor charge since it was my first offense. Since 2008, I have become more productive, raising my gpa to a final 3.45 and volunteering at different places. My record will be expunged in October 2010.

I was wondering if you thought that because I had actually been an employee and stole from my employer, it would be a worse situation. I haven't taken my LSAT yet because I was worried about my stupid mistake. Do you think I should even apply to law schools? What are my chances of being accepted if I explain myself properly in a personal statement and get a LSAT score of around 160?


With a 160 and a GPA above 3.0, you'll get into at least one law school if you want to. There are schools that word there applications in such a way that you only have to worry about full disclosure when you take the bar, not when getting into law school. You have to fully disclose though and answer the questions when asked either in the law school application or bar character and fitness application. Again, if you want to go to law school and apply after October 2010, you can find applications where you need not disclose to the SCHOOL.

Even if you do have to disclose, as with most schools of interest you will need to, you should be able to write a persuasive addendum. I wouldn't harp too much on the actual details of the incident, just disclose what is asked of you and write about how much you've grown and matured and what has inspired you etc. etc. If you want to go to law school, don't be discouraged. Take the LSAT. If you don't and you'd rather hear that you're past criminal history means you have no shot, then listen to these other folks. If you're smart, you'll figure out a way to be honest and savvy at the same time. I hope you would never actually do anything resembling the above incident as a prospective student, law student, or lawyer. A good essay really needs to be genuine. You may want to reflect on that question first. If you have any doubts, it will bite you in the ass eventually through your conduct. With this as a significant base to judge you off of, you need to isolate this mistake as some sort of immature juvenile mishap or lapse of judgment/ moral understanding.

You should name some schools of interest so this would be easier to answer.
Last edited by bernie shmegma on Wed Jun 23, 2010 7:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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jeremydc
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Re: Applying to Law School with a Criminal Record

Postby jeremydc » Wed Jun 23, 2010 7:38 pm

Don't let your past dictate your future. I have made similar mistakes but that aint stopping me one bit.

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bernie shmegma
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Re: Applying to Law School with a Criminal Record

Postby bernie shmegma » Wed Jun 23, 2010 7:46 pm

JWicker10 wrote:
ScaredWorkedBored wrote:Expungement is almost never effective for bar admission purposes. They tend to ask about it regardless of disposition and they will ask for records that are not covered by a court expungement to make sure you told the truth. In OP's case, it'll also come out because OP will have to tell the bar he was terminated for theft of $700 of stuff from the employer in the scope of his employment (just taking a wild guess he was terminated here...).

OP can't run from this. Theft is not good, recent criminal activity is not good and committing fraud on your employer is not good. No other way to slice it, really. Doesn't mean he won't be admitted, but he's going to get more scrutiny than the typical dumbshit "criminal" records people raise such as high school vandalism or underage drinking.


True. And OP was over 18 when committing the crime.


He will be in the hot seat. If he stays cool and is brutally honest about the whole thing, with no subsequent incidents, and a lot of positives to highlight, I'd find it shocking that any state bar C & F board would not admit him on the grounds or substance of his criminal history alone though.
Last edited by bernie shmegma on Wed Jun 23, 2010 7:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

lion24
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Re: Applying to Law School with a Criminal Record

Postby lion24 » Wed Jun 23, 2010 7:47 pm

bernie shmegma wrote:With a 160 and a GPA above 3.0, you'll get into at least one law school if you want to. There are schools that word there applications in such a way that you only have to worry about full disclosure when you take the bar, not when getting into law school. You have to fully disclose though and answer the questions when asked either in the law school application or bar character and fitness application. Again, if you want to go to law school and apply after October 2010, you can find applications where you need not disclose to the SCHOOL.

Even if you do have to disclose, as with most schools of interest you will need to, you should be able to write a persuasive addendum. I wouldn't harp too much on the actual details of the incident, just disclose what is asked of you and write about how much you've grown and matured and what has inspired you etc. etc. If you want to go to law school, don't be discouraged. Take the LSAT. If you don't and you'd rather hear that you're past criminal history means you have no shot, then listen to these other folks. If you're smart, you'll figure out a way to be honest and savvy at the same time. I hope you would never actually do anything resembling the above incident as a prospective student, law student, or lawyer. A good essay really needs to be genuine. You may want to reflect on that question first. You should name some schools of interest so this would be a lot easier to answer.


thanks bernie for the encouraging response. I was thinking of applying to schools in Los Angeles like Loyola Law School, Southwestern, Pepperdine, and reach for UCLA and USC law school. I was also planning to practice law in CA. I think it would be best though if I was honest and straight with the schools about my past. I don't want to run into problems later with the Bar. But does anybody think it would be a good idea for me? I have a lot of doubts and I want to go to law school, but it would be risky. If i got into law school, I would be taking out lots of loans, with the intention of being able to pass the Bar. What if I rack up 100k in debt and can't pay it off because I was banking on becoming a lawyer, only to get my dreams crushed?? I just want to know what experience people have with similar situations.

Just a curious question, but what are the respondent's experience with these kinds of situations? this is not taken to offend people, but just to see what they are basing their opinions on. Thanks for responding too. I appreciate it.

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StrictlyLiable
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Re: Applying to Law School with a Criminal Record

Postby StrictlyLiable » Wed Jun 23, 2010 7:56 pm

jeremydc wrote:Don't let your past dictate your future. I have made similar mistakes but that aint stopping me one bit.



Right on.

Mirrored
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Re: Applying to Law School with a Criminal Record

Postby Mirrored » Wed Jun 23, 2010 8:31 pm

Do better on the LSAT. That's going to matter more than petty theft. I think "Petty Theft" is really going to be something you can explain away.

But I would say because you have that blemish on record, you're going to need about 8 points more on your LSAT to compensate.

You may want to get some legal work experience too and get a bit more distance from the thing.

Can't hurt.

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Albatross
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Re: Applying to Law School with a Criminal Record

Postby Albatross » Wed Jun 23, 2010 8:32 pm

lion24 wrote:I have been doing my research and looking at other topics relating to people applying to law school with criminal records, but I think mine is a different situation and may hurt my chances even more than others who apply with a criminal record. In August 2008, I was 20 years old and working for Nordstrom. I was arrested there for grand theft but convicted of petty theft later on. I was stupid and selfish and have changed my ways from then. What happened though was that I was a sales associate and returned items that i had bought, without actually bringing them back. I returned about $700 worth of stuff, which was considered grand theft and a felony, but my attorney was able to bring it down to petty theft and a misdemeanor charge since it was my first offense. Since 2008, I have become more productive, raising my gpa to a final 3.45 and volunteering at different places. My record will be expunged in October 2010.

I was wondering if you thought that because I had actually been an employee and stole from my employer, it would be a worse situation. I haven't taken my LSAT yet because I was worried about my stupid mistake. Do you think I should even apply to law schools? What are my chances of being accepted if I explain myself properly in a personal statement and get a LSAT score of around 160?


You should probably just come to the self-realization that you are a criminal. Then you can just get arrested again and mop prison floors for the rest of your life. At least you won't have to study for the bar.

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sundance95
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Re: Applying to Law School with a Criminal Record

Postby sundance95 » Wed Jun 23, 2010 8:37 pm

Mirrored wrote:But I would say because you have that blemish on record, you're going to need about 8 points more on your LSAT to compensate.


Honestly, on what basis are you pulling this number from nowhere? Are you an adcomm member?

rui
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Re: Applying to Law School with a Criminal Record

Postby rui » Wed Jun 23, 2010 8:58 pm

Question: How'd you get caught?

Has nothing to do with the thread, just curious.

TTTGrad
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Re: Applying to Law School with a Criminal Record

Postby TTTGrad » Wed Jun 23, 2010 9:38 pm

The OP has no chance for bar admission. So unless he wants the JD for arguable prestige, a practicing lawyer he will never become. First, expungements don't mean squat. When you apply to the bar, the character and fitness portion of the application will ask you to disclose any criminal convictions, regardless of expungement status. If you fail to disclose this and are discovered, expect disbarment proceedings. Secondly, a theft offense, no matter how petty, is more serious (for law school and C&F purposes) than a DUI or drug possession conviction. If you don't believe me, google "Robert Triffin" and "bar admission." In short, Triffin was convicted of check-kiting in the '80s. He went to law school, passed the bar 13 years later and was denied admission to every jurisdiction he has applied to. In over 15 years of practice I have yet to see anyone convicted of a crime of moral turpitude gain admission to the bar. Go to law school if you must, but all you will wield is a gun with no bullets and no chance of ever re-loading.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Applying to Law School with a Criminal Record

Postby vanwinkle » Wed Jun 23, 2010 9:46 pm

TTTGrad wrote:The OP has no chance for bar admission. So unless he wants the JD for arguable prestige, a practicing lawyer he will never become. First, expungements don't mean squat. When you apply to the bar, the character and fitness portion of the application will ask you to disclose any criminal convictions, regardless of expungement status. If you fail to disclose this and are discovered, expect disbarment proceedings. Secondly, a theft offense, no matter how petty, is more serious (for law school and C&F purposes) than a DUI or drug possession conviction. If you don't believe me, google "Robert Triffin" and "bar admission." In short, Triffin was convicted of check-kiting in the '80s. He went to law school, passed the bar 13 years later and was denied admission to every jurisdiction he has applied to. In over 15 years of practice I have yet to see anyone convicted of a crime of moral turpitude gain admission to the bar. Go to law school if you must, but all you will wield is a gun with no bullets and no chance of ever re-loading.

This is terrible advice, and dangerous because of how it mixes the truth with obviously wrong ideas. It's true that when you apply for the bar you'll have to disclose everything, including expunged crimes; however, very few people fail the bar for character and fitness reasons in a given year.

Check fraud is considered significantly more egregious than other forms of theft. As a lawyer you're going to be trusted with large sums of money and have the ability to sign documents moving large sums of other people's money; they want signs that you'll be trustworthy enough to not steal from your clients. This is also why people with bankruptcy and embezzling are among those that have the most trouble with the character and fitness component.

Plus, the above poster is a troll who's generally out to convince people not to go to law school because of his own bad experiences. Rather than listen to him (or anyone else), I recommend going and finding a practicing lawyer who can advise you on character and fitness issues. One of the biggest things about character and fitness, though, is disclosure, so if you disclose to the law schools you apply to, and they take you anyway, that's a sign that you're honest about your past and will be a good thing. This is why relatively few people have trouble passing the C&F part of the bar despite having a criminal history; they properly disclose everything like they're supposed to, and don't do it again while they're in law school.

TTTGrad
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Re: Applying to Law School with a Criminal Record

Postby TTTGrad » Wed Jun 23, 2010 9:56 pm

vanwinkle wrote:This is terrible advice, and dangerous because of how it mixes the truth with obviously wrong ideas. It's true that when you apply for the bar you'll have to disclose everything, including expunged crimes; however, very few people fail the bar for character and fitness reasons in a given year.

Check fraud is considered significantly more egregious than other forms of theft. As a lawyer you're going to be trusted with large sums of money and have the ability to sign documents moving large sums of other people's money; they want signs that you'll be trustworthy enough to not steal from your clients. This is also why people with bankruptcy and embezzling are among those that have the most trouble with the character and fitness component.

Plus, the above poster is a troll who's generally out to convince people not to go to law school because of his own bad experiences. Rather than listen to him (or anyone else), I recommend going and finding a practicing lawyer who can advise you on character and fitness issues. One of the biggest things about character and fitness, though, is disclosure, so if you disclose to the law schools you apply to, and they take you anyway, that's a sign that you're honest about your past and will be a good thing. This is why relatively few people have trouble passing the C&F part of the bar despite having a criminal history; they properly disclose everything like they're supposed to, and don't do it again while they're in law school.



OP, I second the mod's opinion to discuss this with a practicing attorney. However, the mod is wrong. He is a law student and doesn't know any better. Check-kiting and theft are crimes of moral turpitude. Both involve dishonesty. Filing for bankruptcy has never kept anyone outside of the bar. 11 U.S.C. sec. 525 prevents that. I am not a troll and contrary to the mod's mistaken belief, I am quite successful. Do not believe that if the law school admits you, you won't face problems before the character and fitness committee. Just ask Robert Triffin who was admitted to law school and has been trying to gain admission to the bar for the past 14 years despite passing the bar exam.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Applying to Law School with a Criminal Record

Postby vanwinkle » Wed Jun 23, 2010 9:58 pm

TTTGrad wrote:Just ask Robert Triffin who was admitted to law school and has been trying to gain admission to the bar for the past 14 years despite passing the bar exam.

I love the fact that you keep using a guy who commit check fraud as proof that people who commit something other than check fraud will be permanently disbarred.

HBK
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Re: Applying to Law School with a Criminal Record

Postby HBK » Wed Jun 23, 2010 10:02 pm

You need to talk to your state's bar. And for what it's worth, to me what you did (stealing directly from your employer) two years ago is far worse than check fraud ten years ago. You were given the slightest bit of responsibility, and chose to steal from the people who sign your checks.

Good luck, but I don't think it's gonna happen for you.

HBK
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Re: Applying to Law School with a Criminal Record

Postby HBK » Wed Jun 23, 2010 10:20 pm

Also, googling "Robert Triffin" only brings up stuff about an economist.

It was only googling "Robert Triffin" character and fitness that brought anything up. That was one article by the National Conference of Bar Examiners. The article is located here: --LinkRemoved--.

This would be a good article for the OP to read. Triffin had committed civil fraud and practiced as an unlicensed attorney. He hadn't paid his debts or judgements, and had made no effort to do so. He was more than a hot check writer.




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