Admissions with Record

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cpena1991
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Admissions with Record

Postby cpena1991 » Mon Sep 16, 2013 4:08 pm

Hey guys and girls this is my first post.

Im going to be applying to law schools as soon as I get my Oct. LSAT scores back and I have a question about my previous arrests. I've been arrested 3 times. The first was in 2009 for minor possession of marijuana and paraphernalia and I received a deferred prosecution where I took a class and that's it. The second was in 2011 where I got into a fight outside of a bar/club and was charged with simple battery took a withhold of adjudication and had to complete an anger management program, pay restitution, and do some community service. The last one was in 2012 and it was another fight (battery) outside of a bar, the day before a big football game at my university, I once again took a withhold of adjudication but only had to pay restitution.

P.S. all were misdemeanors

I want to know how I should go about writing addendums for these incidents? Should they just be as simple as possible stating this happened on X day and I had to do Y for it, or should I write my experience and so forth. Also, how seriously is this going to hurt my chances of getting into a top law school?

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rinkrat19
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Re: Admissions with Record

Postby rinkrat19 » Mon Sep 16, 2013 4:18 pm

It's hard to say to what degree, but I'd bet it will hurt you. Normally, the passage of time and/or successfully completing treatment programs serve to insulate an applicant from their past stupidity. You have neither. Three incidents suggest a pattern of behavior over several years, ending quite recently. Not only that, but you did an anger management thing and it didn't work, so even if you quickly went through another program there's no reason for adcomms to believe it would stick this time either.

Honestly, if you don't want it to hurt your chances, you should take a couple of years off, get a job, and for the love of everything holy, STOP GETTING IN BAR FIGHTS for a little while. It's really not that hard. Literally as I type this, I am not getting in a bar fight and it's requiring practically no effort whatsoever.

Putting these incidents a couple of (well-behaved) years in the rearview mirror would pretty much negate any negative effect. As is, you might not like how your cycle goes.

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danquayle
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Re: Admissions with Record

Postby danquayle » Mon Sep 16, 2013 5:00 pm

Just posted about something similar, but you should likely try to integrate it into your overall narrative. The trouble with your record is that the events are secessive and recent. You need to demonstrate you've admitted to these mistakes and somehow corrected them in such a way that they are unlikely to resurface. Ideally you could spin them into being a positive catalyst.

I agree with Rinkrat, however. These are so recent its unlikely you have a sufficient track record of "doing well" to spin it that way. Your best bet is to get a job and put together a few respectable years without a missy eliot.

This is of greater importance when you consider that this matters not only to law schools, but also to bar admission. You're going to have to explain this to character and fitness. That alone will scare away some schools.

No doubt you'd get admitted somewhere if you have good numbers, but you really should more concerned with C&F. Your worse case scenario is going 3 years of law school and finding out you won't pass C&F. You should really put in a few years of holding down a job, and you know, as rinkrat puts it, not getting into bar fights. It sounds like you're still in college. I'd bet C&F would question someone with that track record who hasn't worked in a professional environment at all. C&F has dinged people for far less.
Last edited by danquayle on Mon Sep 16, 2013 5:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

RoaringMice
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Re: Admissions with Record

Postby RoaringMice » Mon Sep 16, 2013 5:06 pm

I'm afraid it might hurt you, because you've shown a pattern, and the most recent incident is exactly that - recent. There is no distance of time separating you from the most recent incident, and the pattern you've got going on is not in your favor. I am concerned.

There is a thread here on the board where people get to ask questions of a former law school admissions rep who currently works as a consultant in this field. I might suggest you post this there:
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=197451&hilit=spivey&start=900

But my suggestion is, as others have said, that you take some time away from school, work, establish a record of success in work, and stay out of trouble. For 2-4 years. And then apply.

cpena1991
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Re: Admissions with Record

Postby cpena1991 » Mon Sep 16, 2013 5:25 pm

Thank you for the replies, I really appreciate it.

I understand that taking a few years off would be my best bet, but unfortunately I will not be doing that. I can already tell that its going to hurt me in admissions but will a high enough LSAT partially offset it?

Also what does my "overall narrative" mean? Is that my personal statement?

From the looks of it, trying to explain how I have changed since then seems like it will most likely fail due to how recent it is. Being that I will be applying come November, should I just go ahead and be as simple as possible?

Also, is it pretty much out of the picture to get into a top law school with this record? My target school is Columbia and I have a LOR from a professor of mine that got his Ph.D from there, but is this completely unrealistic?

Once again thanks for the quick replies

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sublime
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Re: Admissions with Record

Postby sublime » Mon Sep 16, 2013 5:41 pm

..

Innovative
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Re: Admissions with Record

Postby Innovative » Mon Sep 16, 2013 5:42 pm

cpena1991 wrote:Thank you for the replies, I really appreciate it.

I understand that taking a few years off would be my best bet, but unfortunately I will not be doing that. I can already tell that its going to hurt me in admissions but will a high enough LSAT partially offset it?

Also what does my "overall narrative" mean? Is that my personal statement?

From the looks of it, trying to explain how I have changed since then seems like it will most likely fail due to how recent it is. Being that I will be applying come November, should I just go ahead and be as simple as possible?

Also, is it pretty much out of the picture to get into a top law school with this record? My target school is Columbia and I have a LOR from a professor of mine that got his Ph.D from there, but is this completely unrealistic?

Once again thanks for the quick replies


What is your LSDAS GPA and how are you testing on the LSAT? You will certainly pass C & F for the bar (unless i'm missing something). So, I don't think that Columbia is out of the question, just more difficult.

EDIT: "certainly" seems to certainly be a slight overstatement as others have since pointed out.
Last edited by Innovative on Mon Sep 16, 2013 7:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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danquayle
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Re: Admissions with Record

Postby danquayle » Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:09 pm

Innovative wrote:
cpena1991 wrote:Thank you for the replies, I really appreciate it.

I understand that taking a few years off would be my best bet, but unfortunately I will not be doing that. I can already tell that its going to hurt me in admissions but will a high enough LSAT partially offset it?

Also what does my "overall narrative" mean? Is that my personal statement?

From the looks of it, trying to explain how I have changed since then seems like it will most likely fail due to how recent it is. Being that I will be applying come November, should I just go ahead and be as simple as possible?

Also, is it pretty much out of the picture to get into a top law school with this record? My target school is Columbia and I have a LOR from a professor of mine that got his Ph.D from there, but is this completely unrealistic?

Once again thanks for the quick replies


What is your LSDAS GPA and how are you testing on the LSAT? You will certainly pass C & F for the bar (unless i'm missing something). So, I don't think that Columbia is out of the questions, just more difficult.


I don't know that clearing C&F is a "certainty." They've refused to clear people for something as banal seeking out psychiatric help after a family members passing. Particularly since one incident involves substance abuse (which is unfortunately a common problem for lawyers) and the others point to potential personality problems. I'm not saying its unlikely, but its also no slam dunk... especially if there are any incidents in law school.

Virginia even looks into a pattern of traffic violations.

http://barexam.virginia.gov/cf/cfoverview.html

Again OP, not saying you' can't pass c&f, but it would make me nervous enough to start mitigating right now. I'd write a letter to whichever bar you intend on sitting for with their opinion.

As far as Columbia (or any other school): for law school, strong numbers can overcome most anything. I'd still try to craft a "narrative." What I mean by that is your story of the events of your life... basically your spin on things. What you have right now is a series of events. If you don't provide a narrative, someone else will. For example, I was just posting to a guy who was trying to figure out whether or not to disclose alcoholism that led to a poor GPA in undergrad. My opinion was that he had a bad fact, but he could control the narrative behind that bad fact. In his case, he had spent 2 years sober fixing his life, starting a family and counseling other abusers. His narrative therefore painted a story where his low GPA was part of events prior to the "climax" of this life, and therefore not indicative of his current disposition.

So if you're intent on going to law school, I'd still attempt to do the same thing... explain to the ad comm to how these events made your realize about yourself, how you intend to address them and how you intend to make a change such that those past events are not really indicative of who you really are.

Just make any addendum forward looking and positive.

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danquayle
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Re: Admissions with Record

Postby danquayle » Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:13 pm

danquayle wrote:
Innovative wrote:
cpena1991 wrote:Thank you for the replies, I really appreciate it.

I understand that taking a few years off would be my best bet, but unfortunately I will not be doing that. I can already tell that its going to hurt me in admissions but will a high enough LSAT partially offset it?

Also what does my "overall narrative" mean? Is that my personal statement?

From the looks of it, trying to explain how I have changed since then seems like it will most likely fail due to how recent it is. Being that I will be applying come November, should I just go ahead and be as simple as possible?

Also, is it pretty much out of the picture to get into a top law school with this record? My target school is Columbia and I have a LOR from a professor of mine that got his Ph.D from there, but is this completely unrealistic?

Once again thanks for the quick replies


What is your LSDAS GPA and how are you testing on the LSAT? You will certainly pass C & F for the bar (unless i'm missing something). So, I don't think that Columbia is out of the questions, just more difficult.


I don't know that clearing C&F is a "certainty." They've refused to clear people for something as banal seeking out psychiatric help after a family members passing. Particularly since one incident involves substance abuse (which is unfortunately a common problem for lawyers) and the others point to potential personality problems. I'm not saying its unlikely, but its also no slam dunk... especially if there are any incidents in law school.

Virginia even looks into a pattern of traffic violations.

http://barexam.virginia.gov/cf/cfoverview.html

Again OP, not saying you' can't pass c&f, but it would make me nervous enough to start mitigating right now. I'd write a letter to whichever bar you intend on sitting for with their opinion.

As far as Columbia (or any other school): for law school, strong numbers can overcome most anything. I'd still try to craft a "narrative." What I mean by that is your story of the events of your life... basically your spin on things. What you have right now is a series of events. If you don't provide a narrative, someone else will. For example, I was just posting to a guy who was trying to figure out whether or not to disclose alcoholism that led to a poor GPA in undergrad. My opinion was that he had a bad fact, but he could control the narrative behind that bad fact. In his case, he had spent 2 years sober fixing his life, starting a family and counseling other abusers. His narrative therefore painted a story where his low GPA was part of events prior to the "climax" of this life, and therefore not indicative of his current disposition.

So if you're intent on going to law school, I'd still attempt to do the same thing... explain to the ad comm to how these events made your realize about yourself, how you intend to address them and how you intend to make a change such that those past events are not really indicative of who you really are.

Just make any addendum forward looking and positive.


FWIW, I was admitted to the NY bar after a DUI. But they demanded a lot of followup evidence of my rehabilitation efforts. Whatever you do, just be very candid. The worse thing you can do as it pertains to any law related application is show any level of dishonesty. It sounds like you plan being forthright, so thats a good first step.
Last edited by danquayle on Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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midwest17
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Re: Admissions with Record

Postby midwest17 » Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:13 pm

Definitely don't mention the part about your fight being the day before a football game.

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danquayle
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Re: Admissions with Record

Postby danquayle » Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:18 pm

midwest17 wrote:Definitely don't mention the part about your fight being the day before a football game.


Another reason to get in contact with c&f is to make sure you'll know what you'll eventually need to disclose about these incidents to them. They'll probably have access to your admissions materials and discrepancies between your accounts might give them more concern than the underlying events. Again discrepancies are not fatal, but not beneficial.
Last edited by danquayle on Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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midwest17
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Re: Admissions with Record

Postby midwest17 » Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:22 pm

danquayle wrote:
midwest17 wrote:Definitely don't mention the part about your fight being the day before a football game.


Another reason to get in contact with c&f is to make sure you'll know what you'll eventually need to disclose about these incidents to them. They'll probably have access to your admissions materials and discrepancies between your accounts might give them more concern than the underlying events. Again discrepancies are fatal, but not beneficial.


I'm confused. Are you suggesting that the bar would have a problem with you saying "I was convicted of battery on X, X 2012 after a fight outside a bar" because you didn't mention that the fight was the day before a football game? That strikes me as absurd, and I doubt it's ever actually happened.

The point of my comment is that saying that the fight was the day before a football game sounds like a lame attempt at justification. It's just not a salient detail.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Admissions with Record

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:44 pm

danquayle wrote:I don't know that clearing C&F is a "certainty." They've refused to clear people for something as banal seeking out psychiatric help after a family members passing.

Slight sidetrack, but do you have some kind of link or citation for this? All the bar apps I've seen specifically exempt something like situational grief counseling after the death of a family member from the mental health treatment you have to report (and even reported mental health treatment doesn't have to be a C&F problem). It's not an issue for me personally, but I am sort of curious about bar handling of mental health problems and so I'd love more details if you have them. (If not, no worries, of course.)

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danquayle
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Re: Admissions with Record

Postby danquayle » Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:48 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
danquayle wrote:I don't know that clearing C&F is a "certainty." They've refused to clear people for something as banal seeking out psychiatric help after a family members passing.

Slight sidetrack, but do you have some kind of link or citation for this? All the bar apps I've seen specifically exempt something like situational grief counseling after the death of a family member from the mental health treatment you have to report (and even reported mental health treatment doesn't have to be a C&F problem). It's not an issue for me personally, but I am sort of curious about bar handling of mental health problems and so I'd love more details if you have them. (If not, no worries, of course.)


I'll see if I can find the original source. It's something I remember from my legal ethics class and I might have the material laying around. I don't think its common at all, but it was raised as a cautionary tale of how seemingly arbitrary c&f can be.

IIRC the fact pattern correctly, the applicant was prescribed antidepressants as well, but also that the underlying issue occurred in high school.
Last edited by danquayle on Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Admissions with Record

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:52 pm

Thanks (don't go to any major trouble). We got a similar cautionary tale in my ethics class, too, although IIRC ours was about someone who had been treated for depression and I think she resisted having to disclose that (and was ultimately admitted, there was just a huge delay and the bar examiners in question were sort of pricks about it). But it was a fairly old story so I'm curious.

esse est percipi
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Re: Admissions with Record

Postby esse est percipi » Tue Sep 17, 2013 1:14 pm

OP, check out the expungement laws in your state. If you live in a lenient state, you would probably be eligible to seal your record in a couple of years. About half of the T14 don't require you to disclose expunged records.

Also, don't let anyone scare you about not passing the bar. As long as you don't do anything like this again in law school, and you are candid in your bar application, you'll pass.

Progress01
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Re: Admissions with Record

Postby Progress01 » Tue Sep 17, 2013 1:28 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
danquayle wrote:I don't know that clearing C&F is a "certainty." They've refused to clear people for something as banal seeking out psychiatric help after a family members passing.

Slight sidetrack, but do you have some kind of link or citation for this? All the bar apps I've seen specifically exempt something like situational grief counseling after the death of a family member from the mental health treatment you have to report (and even reported mental health treatment doesn't have to be a C&F problem). It's not an issue for me personally, but I am sort of curious about bar handling of mental health problems and so I'd love more details if you have them. (If not, no worries, of course.)


Not trying to thread hijack, but If this is true, you're scaring me here. What about someone who sought counseling after being assaulted? Do they frown upon that?

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danquayle
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Re: Admissions with Record

Postby danquayle » Tue Sep 17, 2013 1:37 pm

Progress01 wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:
danquayle wrote:I don't know that clearing C&F is a "certainty." They've refused to clear people for something as banal seeking out psychiatric help after a family members passing.

Slight sidetrack, but do you have some kind of link or citation for this? All the bar apps I've seen specifically exempt something like situational grief counseling after the death of a family member from the mental health treatment you have to report (and even reported mental health treatment doesn't have to be a C&F problem). It's not an issue for me personally, but I am sort of curious about bar handling of mental health problems and so I'd love more details if you have them. (If not, no worries, of course.)


Not trying to thread hijack, but If this is true, you're scaring me here. What about someone who sought counseling after being assaulted? Do they frown upon that?


I really can't speak to that. But basic point behind c&f is candor. If you're honest, forthright and corrective of your past you should be ok. Most of the problems arise when you try to obfuscate or avoid bad facts.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Admissions with Record

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Sep 17, 2013 1:47 pm

Progress01 wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:
danquayle wrote:I don't know that clearing C&F is a "certainty." They've refused to clear people for something as banal seeking out psychiatric help after a family members passing.

Slight sidetrack, but do you have some kind of link or citation for this? All the bar apps I've seen specifically exempt something like situational grief counseling after the death of a family member from the mental health treatment you have to report (and even reported mental health treatment doesn't have to be a C&F problem). It's not an issue for me personally, but I am sort of curious about bar handling of mental health problems and so I'd love more details if you have them. (If not, no worries, of course.)


Not trying to thread hijack, but If this is true, you're scaring me here. What about someone who sought counseling after being assaulted? Do they frown upon that?

It's possible you might have to disclose (you might not - it would depend on how the state bar words the application). But I can't imagine it would remotely disqualify you. Like danquayle said, the big issue is trying to cover stuff up. Covering up something you think might be an issue is almost invariably worse than the issue itself would be (I say "almost invariably" because if you embezzled money from an employer during law school, say, yes, that will probably disqualify you. But most people don't do that). And I think bar associations have become more understanding about counseling, and seek to encourage those who need it to get counseling, since the cases that get used in ethics class to scare everyone into disclosing.

cpena1991
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Re: Admissions with Record

Postby cpena1991 » Tue Sep 17, 2013 5:37 pm

esse est percipi wrote:OP, check out the expungement laws in your state. If you live in a lenient state, you would probably be eligible to seal your record in a couple of years. About half of the T14 don't require you to disclose expunged records.

Also, don't let anyone scare you about not passing the bar. As long as you don't do anything like this again in law school, and you are candid in your bar application, you'll pass.



I live in Florida. The only reason I haven't taken that course was because I was under the assumption that I would still need to disclose this regardless of expunging. Is this true, and if so, does anyone happen to know which school don't require you to disclose sealed records?

Thanks again for everyone's advice.

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sublime
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Re: Admissions with Record

Postby sublime » Tue Sep 17, 2013 5:40 pm

..

esse est percipi
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Re: Admissions with Record

Postby esse est percipi » Tue Sep 17, 2013 10:40 pm

cpena1991 wrote:
esse est percipi wrote:OP, check out the expungement laws in your state. If you live in a lenient state, you would probably be eligible to seal your record in a couple of years. About half of the T14 don't require you to disclose expunged records.

Also, don't let anyone scare you about not passing the bar. As long as you don't do anything like this again in law school, and you are candid in your bar application, you'll pass.



I live in Florida. The only reason I haven't taken that course was because I was under the assumption that I would still need to disclose this regardless of expunging. Is this true, and if so, does anyone happen to know which school don't require you to disclose sealed records?

Thanks again for everyone's advice.



Among the T14, harvard, yale, stanford, berkeley, michigan, and virginia do not require you to disclose. The rest of the T14 do, however (although, I am not sure about georgetown). As for schools outside of the T14, you can tell what schools will require you to disclose sealed records by the states they're in. A lot of states prohibit law schools from asking about sealed records (I think that in the near future this will be the case for every school). E.g. no law school in California, Texas, or Massachusetts will ask about sealed records.




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