Serious Character and Fitness question

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nodey
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Serious Character and Fitness question

Postby nodey » Sun Feb 16, 2014 1:39 pm

So I have top 5% LSAT score and graduated cum laude, solid softs etc... however I also have a very odd C&F predicament. In undergrad in I was placed on probation after signing my adviser's name to a Pass/Fail form for an advanced class. What I did was wrong, but I meant nothing malicious to my adviser or the institution I just wanted to take a class on advanced genetics w/o destroying my GPA, and couldnt locate my adviser prior to the form deadlines. (I actually got a B in the class so the whole thing was stupid anyway).

I tried to take the high road and disclosed the whole incident on my application, Ive repaired the relationship with my adviser since, the head of Judicial affairs at my school also sided with me. Technically the whole incident has been expunged as I was never suspended and my undergrad has deleted the records.

So my question is, is this auto-ding worthy? Are schools going to see this one incident and ignore everything else? Is it going to weigh down my application? Or will it mean absolutely nothing?

I've asked dozens of people and noone can really give me a straight answer on what this means to law schools. Anyone who has first hand experience with something like this, any input at all would be valuable.

BillsFan9907
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Re: Serious Character and Fitness question

Postby BillsFan9907 » Sun Feb 16, 2014 2:06 pm

Your Record was expunged. How would they find out about this if you lied? It's more of a matter of integrity.
Last edited by BillsFan9907 on Tue Dec 23, 2014 11:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

nodey
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Re: Serious Character and Fitness question

Postby nodey » Sun Feb 16, 2014 2:12 pm

I dont understand what youre trying to say. Every school knows about it because I disclosed it on my applications... and theres a chance? a chance of what? a chance that it makes it a difference or a chance it doesnt?

moralsentiments
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Re: Serious Character and Fitness question

Postby moralsentiments » Sun Feb 16, 2014 2:13 pm

I think he/she is wondering why you disclosed it on your law school applications if the issue has been expunged and records of it deleted.

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sublime
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Re: Serious Character and Fitness question

Postby sublime » Sun Feb 16, 2014 2:14 pm

..

nodey
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Re: Serious Character and Fitness question

Postby nodey » Sun Feb 16, 2014 2:19 pm

I disclosed it because the C&F questions ask you to disclose things that have been expunged, I figured it'd be best to not start a career built on ethics by compounding previous deceptions.

my question now is: how many of you lied on your C&F responses?

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franklyscarlet
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Re: Serious Character and Fitness question

Postby franklyscarlet » Sun Feb 16, 2014 2:23 pm

Please ignore people telling you that you should have lied about this. Disclose, disclose, disclose. Disclose everything.

nodey
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Re: Serious Character and Fitness question

Postby nodey » Sun Feb 16, 2014 2:26 pm

Are there any administrators, admissions people, professors etc who can speak to my original question with a little more authority than that of an 0L?

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sublime
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Re: Serious Character and Fitness question

Postby sublime » Sun Feb 16, 2014 2:27 pm

..

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northwood
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Re: Serious Character and Fitness question

Postby northwood » Sun Feb 16, 2014 3:22 pm

it could be an auto-ding. It could be nothing. While I am not an attorney, nor do I have any expertise/ insight into this, i'd say that Disclosing this now was a good idea on your half. ( if it is really bad, better to find that out now, than say after 3 years +loans and from your state character and fitness committee). If you felt as though you underperformed your numbers, then contact the schools you want, and ask to discuss your file in further detail. You may have to draft another addendum, and reapply, or do something else... Wait to see how it goes this cycle, and then go from there.

But, you will likely get better advice from an actual adcomm or a perso ore familiar with this scenario than from TLS

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midwest17
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Re: Serious Character and Fitness question

Postby midwest17 » Sun Feb 16, 2014 3:44 pm

Seoulless wrote:Your Record was expunged. How would they find out about this if you lied? There's a chance. There is also a chance queen latifa will become president.


Stop giving terrible, potentially life-ruining advice.

FutureSuperLawyer
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Re: Serious Character and Fitness question

Postby FutureSuperLawyer » Sun Feb 16, 2014 4:24 pm

Of course this is going to screw you. You'll get rejected right and left by admissions officers who will be afraid that if they admit you, and you do another shady thing, they'll be blamed for admitting you. They'll be especially concerned because of the recent publicity about Matthew Martoma. Martoma was expelled from Harvard Law School around 1999 for lying to federal judges about his grades and covering it up. He was admitted to Stanford Business School around 2002 (he obviously did not tell Stanford what happened at Harvard and they were too lazy to check). About a week ago he was convicted of insider trading. Needless to say this is all very embarassing for Stanford Business School and no admission officer wants to risk admitting the next Matthew Martoma.

You also did not need to disclose this. You told the law schools because they asked about it. However, the WHOLE POINT of expunging this from your record was so that future employers and grad schools would not learn of it. In fact expunging records, if there is no subsequent bad conduct, is common in criminal cases and, like your case, the WHOLE POINT, is to allow people, who behave well for a subsequent period, to get on with their lives and avoid the disadvantages of having to disclose past misconduct.

Deciding whether to disclose was incredibly important decision (which will likely drastically harm your future legal career) but you made with even consulting a lawyer. How hard would that have been? One of the most important things lawyers do is explaining to clients what they need to disclose. For example, if you're arrested, you don't have to answer every question a police asks (most people know that just from watching TV). Nor do you have disclose the substance of discussions with your legal counsel.

Your only hope is that your gpa and lsat scores are high enough that you get automatically admitted without anyone reviewing your application. That's probably going to mean you get rejected anywhere your scores are not high enough to make the auto-admit cutoff. Its also going to be a problem for you if you want to negotiate for money because that might prompt the schools that do admit you to review your application.

So, if you have $300,000 lying around to pay for law school (that's what you'll need without a scholarship), and don't mind going to a third rate school where you'll have a less than 50% chance of ever practicing law, I think you're ok. If not, yes, you screwed yourself.

nodey
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Re: Serious Character and Fitness question

Postby nodey » Sun Feb 16, 2014 4:37 pm

I'm familiar with the Martoma case and i thought the exact same thing when i heard about the trial. Im just having a hard time believing that an institution that places ethics in such high regard would engender a system that incentivizes deception... why would they require people to disclose expunged offenses, while inadvertently rewarding people who lie about expunged offenses. Doesnt make any sense to me. There has to be more nuance to this whole situation.

xmking07
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Re: Serious Character and Fitness question

Postby xmking07 » Sun Feb 16, 2014 4:42 pm

FutureSuperLawyer wrote:Of course this is going to screw you. You'll get rejected right and left by admissions officers who will be afraid that if they admit you, and you do another shady thing, they'll be blamed for admitting you. They'll be especially concerned because of the recent publicity about Matthew Martoma. Martoma was expelled from Harvard Law School around 1999 for lying to federal judges about his grades and covering it up. He was admitted to Stanford Business School around 2002 (he obviously did not tell Stanford what happened at Harvard and they were too lazy to check). About a week ago he was convicted of insider trading. Needless to say this is all very embarassing for Stanford Business School and no admission officer wants to risk admitting the next Matthew Martoma.
You also did not need to disclose this. You told the law schools because they asked about it. However, the WHOLE POINT of expunging this from your record was so that future employers and grad schools would not learn of it. In fact expunging records, if there is no subsequent bad conduct, is common in criminal cases and, like your case, the WHOLE POINT, is to allow people, who behave well for a subsequent period, to get on with their lives and avoid the disadvantages of having to disclose past misconduct.
Your only hope is that your gpa and lsat scores are high enough that you get automatically admitted without anyone reviewing your application. That's probably going to mean you get rejected anywhere your scores are not high to make the auto-admit cutoff. Its also going to be a problem for you if you to negotiate for money because that might prompt the schools that do admit you to review your application.
You screwed yourself dude.


RE bold: He does have to disclose it. Even if the law school will not do a background check and discover this, the bar could. Since all bar licensed attorneys have to pass the ethics review and background check for the bar it's best that he disclose now rather than take on three years of school and lose whatever salary he could make in the meantime and take on a potentially large amount of debt all for naught if/when he is denied by the bar due to this infraction. His safest bet is to disclose.

OP, you did the right thing. It might rock the boat, it might not. Write the addendum they ask for and cross your fingers.

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cron1834
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Re: Serious Character and Fitness question

Postby cron1834 » Sun Feb 16, 2014 4:48 pm

midwest17 wrote:
Seoulless wrote:Your Record was expunged. How would they find out about this if you lied? There's a chance. There is also a chance queen latifa will become president.


Stop giving terrible, potentially life-ruining advice.


+1. There are documented cases of people being denied admission to the bar for omitting academic dishonesty action items on law school & bar applications. In fact, this sort of thing seems to come up more often than inflating resume job descriptions, etc, b/c it's so easy to confirm with schools.

That brings up a related question - in the real world (by that I mean the non-legal world :lol: ) people seem to inflate job titles and job descriptions on resumes, cover letters, recommendations, etc, all the time. I have experience in private sector hiring, so I know this is rampant. Do people do this on law school applications? Does it trip them up with c&f down the road for the bar? It's just so common in the private sector I can't imagine it doesn't come up. Or do bar c&f questionnaires not require this level of detail on work histories, references, etc?

FutureSuperLawyer
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Re: Serious Character and Fitness question

Postby FutureSuperLawyer » Sun Feb 16, 2014 4:49 pm

nodey wrote:I'm familiar with the Martoma case and i thought the exact same thing when i heard about the trial. Im just having a hard time believing that an institution that places ethics in such high regard would engender a system that incentivizes deception... why would they require people to disclose expunged offenses, while inadvertently rewarding people who lie about expunged offenses. Doesnt make any sense to me. There has to be more nuance to this whole situation.


Law Schools want everyone to think they are concerned about ethics (we don't know whether they are that concerned, we only know what they claim) and they probably didn't think much about this. The question could have been written by a low level person and never reviewed by anyone senior. Even if it was reviewed by someone more senior, they may not have thought much about the contradiction you point to. Shocking though it may seem, you won't find the smartest, hardest working people in the world, in law school admissions offices. No one turns down a federal clerkship, a biglaw job or a prestigious public interest job to be a law school admissions officer.

So no, there is not more nuance to the situation. Just a lot of lazy idiots in the admissions offices who didn't think much about the questions on their application form.

FutureSuperLawyer
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Re: Serious Character and Fitness question

Postby FutureSuperLawyer » Sun Feb 16, 2014 4:51 pm

cron1834 wrote:
midwest17 wrote:
Seoulless wrote:Your Record was expunged. How would they find out about this if you lied? There's a chance. There is also a chance queen latifa will become president.


Stop giving terrible, potentially life-ruining advice.


+1. There are documented cases of people being denied admission to the bar for omitting academic dishonesty action items on law school & bar applications. In fact, this sort of thing seems to come up more often than inflating resume job descriptions, etc, b/c it's so easy to confirm with schools.


People get caught because their records were not expunged. As I said, the WHOLE POINT, of expunging his record is so he would not have to disclose this. If you really believe someone could get into trouble with the bar for failing to disclose things that were expunged, please provide an example where this actually occurred. I'm betting you won't be able to find one no matter how hard you look.

And, the most foolish thing OP did was not talking to a lawyer before making his disclosure. Suggesting one check with a lawyer before making a potentially life changing disclosure like this is hardly "terrible, potentially life-ruining advice."

By the way, I don't think original poster has ruined his life. He can always apply to Stanford Business School :)

nodey
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Re: Serious Character and Fitness question

Postby nodey » Sun Feb 16, 2014 5:05 pm

I did talk to a lawyer, who in addition to being a former defense counsel in NY is the head of legal studies at my undergrad.

Speaking entirely in hypotheticals with her, she initially told me not to disclose, however, after reading the wording of several Application C&F questions she was pretty insistent that I needed to disclose.

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Clearly
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Re: Serious Character and Fitness question

Postby Clearly » Sun Feb 16, 2014 5:14 pm

FutureSuperLawyer wrote:
cron1834 wrote:
midwest17 wrote:
Seoulless wrote:Your Record was expunged. How would they find out about this if you lied? There's a chance. There is also a chance queen latifa will become president.


Stop giving terrible, potentially life-ruining advice.


+1. There are documented cases of people being denied admission to the bar for omitting academic dishonesty action items on law school & bar applications. In fact, this sort of thing seems to come up more often than inflating resume job descriptions, etc, b/c it's so easy to confirm with schools.


People get caught because their records were not expunged. As I said, the WHOLE POINT, of expunging his record is so he would not have to disclose this. If you really believe someone could get into trouble with the bar for failing to disclose things that were expunged, please provide an example where this actually occurred. I'm betting you won't be able to find one no matter how hard you look.

And, the most foolish thing OP did was not talking to a lawyer before making his disclosure. Suggesting one check with a lawyer before making a potentially life changing disclosure like this is hardly "terrible, potentially life-ruining advice."

By the way, I don't think original poster has ruined his life. He can always apply to Stanford Business School :)

Go away.

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cron1834
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Re: Serious Character and Fitness question

Postby cron1834 » Sun Feb 16, 2014 5:41 pm

FutureSuperLawyer wrote:
cron1834 wrote:
midwest17 wrote:
Seoulless wrote:Your Record was expunged. How would they find out about this if you lied? There's a chance. There is also a chance queen latifa will become president.


Stop giving terrible, potentially life-ruining advice.


+1. There are documented cases of people being denied admission to the bar for omitting academic dishonesty action items on law school & bar applications. In fact, this sort of thing seems to come up more often than inflating resume job descriptions, etc, b/c it's so easy to confirm with schools.


People get caught because their records were not expunged. As I said, the WHOLE POINT, of expunging his record is so he would not have to disclose this. If you really believe someone could get into trouble with the bar for failing to disclose things that were expunged, please provide an example where this actually occurred. I'm betting you won't be able to find one no matter how hard you look.

And, the most foolish thing OP did was not talking to a lawyer before making his disclosure. Suggesting one check with a lawyer before making a potentially life changing disclosure like this is hardly "terrible, potentially life-ruining advice."

By the way, I don't think original poster has ruined his life. He can always apply to Stanford Business School :)


Do you have any idea what you are talking about? That's an honest question.

1) The CA state bar (state I am targeting) is specifically authorized to investigate expunged incidents. It says so right on their website. The questionnaire will definitely ask you do disclose what OP disclosed.

2) A university "expunging" a record doesn't have the same force of law as a court order, in any event.

3) The principle of expungement IS ABSOLUTELY NOT designed to help bar applicants lie by omission to the bar. Potential lawyers are held to a tougher standard of honesty than your average Jon Q. private sector job applicant. You seem not to know this.

We agree that talking to a bar lawyer is best.

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midwest17
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Re: Serious Character and Fitness question

Postby midwest17 » Sun Feb 16, 2014 6:21 pm

FutureSuperLawyer wrote:You also did not need to disclose this. You told the law schools because they asked about it. However, the WHOLE POINT of expunging this from your record was so that future employers and grad schools would not learn of it. In fact expunging records, if there is no subsequent bad conduct, is common in criminal cases and, like your case, the WHOLE POINT, is to allow people, who behave well for a subsequent period, to get on with their lives and avoid the disadvantages of having to disclose past misconduct.


Your choice of username indicates that there's a 98% chance you're a troll. But in case you're not:

midwest17 wrote:Stop giving terrible, potentially life-ruining advice.

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bugsy33
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Re: Serious Character and Fitness question

Postby bugsy33 » Sun Feb 16, 2014 6:31 pm

[Deleted]
Last edited by bugsy33 on Mon Feb 17, 2014 12:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

FutureSuperLawyer
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Re: Serious Character and Fitness question

Postby FutureSuperLawyer » Sun Feb 16, 2014 6:35 pm

Yes, I know what I am talking about and the fact that no one can cite a single case of a lawyer being disciplined for failing to disclose something that was expunged supports the view that OP did not need to disclose.

You say the CA bar association is "specifically authorized to investigate expunged incidents." That's pretty vague. Does it mean it can ask the applicant's undergrad university if there are any expunged incidents? The university will just reply that their policy is not to respond to such requests (expungement would be meaningless otherwise). Does it mean the bar can serve subpoenas on third parties to investigate these incidents (you'd think the bar would say that if it had that power as it would make self disclosure more likely).

Finally, the fact that the bar is authorized to do something does not mean it will do it in all cases. In fact it would be extremely costly to serve subpoenas on the educational institutions of all bar applications, many of whom are out of state and would fight the subpoena. Do you really believe the CA bar has those kinds of resources?

But you're missing the most important point. The whole reason OP's university expunged the conduct was to allow him to forgo disclosing the past misconduct; what other purpose could it possibly serve? If the conduct had to disclosed regardless of expungment, OP's university would have been much more wary of creating a record in the first place.

While the bar organizations may be lazy, they are nothing less than fiercely self righteous when they know of misconduct and OP can't hide his act of forgery now that he's disclosed it to his law school (yes he describes it as "signing his advisor's name," but it was clearly forgery). Take the case of Stephen Glass. His misconduct was over a decade ago and his conduct has been good ever since. Multiple attorneys testified that he'd changed his ways and would be a great lawyer. But the CA bar has said there's no way he'll be a lawyer in California.

OP should definitely let us know if he gets in anywhere that does not prompt automatic responses of "retake the LSAT" on TLS. I'm betting that won't happen but would be happy to be proved wrong. For the record, I do think he'll get into any number of third rate schools that are desperate for his student loan money.

FutureSuperLawyer
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Re: Serious Character and Fitness question

Postby FutureSuperLawyer » Sun Feb 16, 2014 6:39 pm

bugsy33 wrote:The impact this will have on your applications will be marginal at best. I have what I consider serious C&F disclosures on my application, and have had no trouble so far with acceptances and scholarships. No further questions have been asked about my incident. It is very important that you disclose everything that the school asks of you. It is not worth further degrading your integrity over this.

Your situation sounds like an isolated incident, and it doesn't sounds very serious imho. Explain the circumstances fully, and trust that the admissions officers know that people make mistakes, especially in their undergrad years. You will get through this just fine; If I got in, you will too.


The fact that you got into a third rate school (you didn't disclose where you go so its likely one of the 90% of U.S. law schools that are not in the T14) who was desperate for you student loan money, and gave you a discount (which you call a scholarship) to get you to sign is meaningless. Many scholarships are small, others have stipulations attached that make them unlikely to be renewed in subsequent years.

On the other hand, the fact that law schools are admitting students who have engaged in serious misconducts shows just how desperate the third rate schools are becoming.

Be sure to disclose your misconduct to the bar. They won't have anything to gain by admitting you (unlike your law school that gets your tuition, if not this year, likely next year after you fail to maintain the required GPA) and I'm sure they would love another chance to show how they don't tolerate misconduct, just like they did with Stephen Glass.

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bugsy33
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Re: Serious Character and Fitness question

Postby bugsy33 » Sun Feb 16, 2014 7:07 pm

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Last edited by bugsy33 on Mon Feb 17, 2014 12:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.




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