Character and Fitness - Applications and Bar Admission

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aspire2more
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Character and Fitness - Applications and Bar Admission

Postby aspire2more » Tue Jan 25, 2011 1:11 am

Thanks everyone for your kindness, fast responses, and helpful information!! I'm glad I found this place!!
Last edited by aspire2more on Tue Jan 25, 2011 7:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

JD2014
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Re: Character and Fitness - Applications and Bar Admission

Postby JD2014 » Tue Jan 25, 2011 1:45 am

A couple points:

1) You’ll have to disclose the underage drinking, but it couldn’t possibly be less important. Just make sure to do it.

2) You can try contacting the bar association of a given state if you want, but they’re not always terribly helpful in this regard. They can’t make any promises without hearing the full details, and they don’t feel like hearing the full details of the life of every law school applicant. I tried doing this, and was essentially told that if you get into law school, you’ll get admitted to the bar, unless you lied on your application or there were additional events between law school admission and the CF review.

3) I just don’t see how depression (or bipolar disorder, or GAD) could prevent your admission to the bar. Paranoid schizophrenia or something like extremely compulsive gambling maybe, but barring any major episodes while attending law school, it would be something well in your past by the time seek admission.

4) You will have to write an addendum for why you left school. You’ll probably want to walk a fine line between avoiding going into all the gritty details and being so vague as to be almost untruthful. A good first step might be to review what records of the event that prompted your withdrawal exist, either from the police or from the school.

In short, you’re (sadly) hardly the only person to be depressed, attempt suicide, or leave school for mental health reasons. I think you’ll find that you can gloss over a lot of the especially sensitive details, and that this shouldn’t be something you need to worry over.

JD2014
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Re: Character and Fitness - Applications and Bar Admission

Postby JD2014 » Tue Jan 25, 2011 1:47 am

Also, found the below quote from a brochure on character and fitness in New York (pretty popular state for admission for readers of this forum). It states that the bar does not ask any questions about mental health treatment, and implies that if you're successfully undergoing treatment, it isn't an issue.

"While honesty in disclosing past conduct (for example, arrests and convictions) is essential, disclosure of past treatment is not required. No questions are asked about past treatment. The Committees encourage law students who are experiencing drug, alcohol or other addiction or mental health issues to address those issues as soon as possible, regardless of when the student plans to seek admission to the bar."

http://www.nylat.org/publications/broch ... ochure.pdf

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aspire2more
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Re: Character and Fitness - Applications and Bar Admission

Postby aspire2more » Tue Jan 25, 2011 2:20 am

You just made me feel a whole lot better! Thanks!!

sarahh
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Re: Character and Fitness - Applications and Bar Admission

Postby sarahh » Tue Jan 25, 2011 2:51 pm

While it does not seem that you are required to disclose past treatment in NY, they do ask if you have “any mental or emotional condition or substance abuse problem that could adversely affect” the “capability to practice law”. And of course, other states may ask different things. If everything is under control now, it may not be an issue, but I would try to call some state bars or a lawyer that handles C & F issues. Your past incident may mean that you have more of an uphill battle than people who just went to see a therapist. I know you said you are not sure where you want to be, but surely there are some states you prefer. Most of us on this board are 0Ls. I would not take our word it will be okay when you are investing 3 years and $150,000 into going to law school.

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joebloe
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Re: Character and Fitness - Applications and Bar Admission

Postby joebloe » Tue Jan 25, 2011 3:12 pm

When I was wondering about C&F, I found some helpful information in the National Conference of Bar Examiners' publication, Bar Examiner (freely available at http://www.ncbex.org), which has a regular article called "Litigation Update". It consists of court decisions where people have sued over their bar applications. While I was looking for issues regarding criminal history, I do recall seeing some discussion of mental illness. You can find at least some of them through this Google search: http://www.google.com/#q=site:ncbex.org+%22litigation+update%22.

I think the main thing is that you may need to demonstrate that your mental health is under control and that you are mentally capable of the rigors of legal practice (regardless of how rigorous it may really be, but that's another discussion). It may also be worth consulting a lawyer who specializes in professional licensing (or whatever the proper term is) to see if there's any way you should be preparing, or even whether you need to be concerned.

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aspire2more
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Re: Character and Fitness - Applications and Bar Admission

Postby aspire2more » Tue Jan 25, 2011 6:49 pm

sarahh wrote:While it does not seem that you are required to disclose past treatment in NY, they do ask if you have “any mental or emotional condition or substance abuse problem that could adversely affect” the “capability to practice law”. And of course, other states may ask different things. If everything is under control now, it may not be an issue, but I would try to call some state bars or a lawyer that handles C & F issues. Your past incident may mean that you have more of an uphill battle than people who just went to see a therapist. I know you said you are not sure where you want to be, but surely there are some states you prefer. Most of us on this board are 0Ls. I would not take our word it will be okay when you are investing 3 years and $150,000 into going to law school.


I really do not have a state preference. I've lived in one state my entire life and do not have experience with life in other places. I am completely open at this point, with maybe the exception of Alaska and Hawaii because of their distance.

Do you have any advice on how to find an attorney that specializes in character and fitness issues? I wasn't aware that there were even attorneys that gave consultations on these issues.

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aspire2more
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Re: Character and Fitness - Applications and Bar Admission

Postby aspire2more » Tue Jan 25, 2011 6:50 pm

joebloe wrote:When I was wondering about C&F, I found some helpful information in the National Conference of Bar Examiners' publication, Bar Examiner (freely available at http://www.ncbex.org), which has a regular article called "Litigation Update". It consists of court decisions where people have sued over their bar applications. While I was looking for issues regarding criminal history, I do recall seeing some discussion of mental illness. You can find at least some of them through this Google search: http://www.google.com/#q=site:ncbex.org+%22litigation+update%22.

I think the main thing is that you may need to demonstrate that your mental health is under control and that you are mentally capable of the rigors of legal practice (regardless of how rigorous it may really be, but that's another discussion). It may also be worth consulting a lawyer who specializes in professional licensing (or whatever the proper term is) to see if there's any way you should be preparing, or even whether you need to be concerned.


I'm looking through those materials right now. Thank you very much for sharing them with me! I will try to find an attorney to advise me. Hopefully it won't be too expensive to talk to one.

sarahh
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Re: Character and Fitness - Applications and Bar Admission

Postby sarahh » Tue Jan 25, 2011 8:20 pm

aspire2more wrote:
sarahh wrote:While it does not seem that you are required to disclose past treatment in NY, they do ask if you have “any mental or emotional condition or substance abuse problem that could adversely affect” the “capability to practice law”. And of course, other states may ask different things. If everything is under control now, it may not be an issue, but I would try to call some state bars or a lawyer that handles C & F issues. Your past incident may mean that you have more of an uphill battle than people who just went to see a therapist. I know you said you are not sure where you want to be, but surely there are some states you prefer. Most of us on this board are 0Ls. I would not take our word it will be okay when you are investing 3 years and $150,000 into going to law school.


I really do not have a state preference. I've lived in one state my entire life and do not have experience with life in other places. I am completely open at this point, with maybe the exception of Alaska and Hawaii because of their distance.

Do you have any advice on how to find an attorney that specializes in character and fitness issues? I wasn't aware that there were even attorneys that gave consultations on these issues.


A lot of bar associations have legal referral services. Maybe start with New York, since that is where a lot of the the jobs are? This seems to be the legal referral service for NYC http://www.abcny.org/LRS/index.htm
Or you may find it easiest to talk to someone where you are. A lot of lawyers offer free consultations, so you may not have to pay anything just to talk to someone for a few minutes.

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aspire2more
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Re: Character and Fitness - Applications and Bar Admission

Postby aspire2more » Tue Jan 25, 2011 8:56 pm

sarahh wrote:
aspire2more wrote:
sarahh wrote:While it does not seem that you are required to disclose past treatment in NY, they do ask if you have “any mental or emotional condition or substance abuse problem that could adversely affect” the “capability to practice law”. And of course, other states may ask different things. If everything is under control now, it may not be an issue, but I would try to call some state bars or a lawyer that handles C & F issues. Your past incident may mean that you have more of an uphill battle than people who just went to see a therapist. I know you said you are not sure where you want to be, but surely there are some states you prefer. Most of us on this board are 0Ls. I would not take our word it will be okay when you are investing 3 years and $150,000 into going to law school.


I really do not have a state preference. I've lived in one state my entire life and do not have experience with life in other places. I am completely open at this point, with maybe the exception of Alaska and Hawaii because of their distance.

Do you have any advice on how to find an attorney that specializes in character and fitness issues? I wasn't aware that there were even attorneys that gave consultations on these issues.


A lot of bar associations have legal referral services. Maybe start with New York, since that is where a lot of the the jobs are? This seems to be the legal referral service for NYC http://www.abcny.org/LRS/index.htm
Or you may find it easiest to talk to someone where you are. A lot of lawyers offer free consultations, so you may not have to pay anything just to talk to someone for a few minutes.


Okay, thank you for the information! You've been very helpful!




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