Misdemeanor DUI and law school admissions

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PropJoe
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Misdemeanor DUI and law school admissions

Postby PropJoe » Wed May 06, 2015 6:48 am

I am asking a rather blunt question and wish to receive honest and informed feedback, not merely open a discussion laden with conjecture -- Can one be accepted into a top tier law school with a single misdemeanor DUI charge (all things being equal) ? From an extensive number of responses I read on LawQA regarding a similar question http://www.lawqa.com/qa/will-dui-conviction-prevent-me-from-getting-law-related-job, the general consensus appeared to be that it wouldn't automatically preclude one from gaining admittance into law school nor passing the bar. However, it certainly isn't advantageous, and would seem to serve as a mark against an applicant; bias and stigma are unavoidable, no matter how objective admission officers aim to be. In competing with potential candidates who carry similar statistics, it would seem unlikely the admissions team would struggle to select the candidates with no record over candidates with a record. I realize my analyzation of the decision-making process of admin teams is generalized and contains many suppositions, while I am asking for responses which are rooted in evidence derived either out of testimonial experience or some direct knowledge of the admissions process as it pertains to this question.

Thank you.

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Capitol_Idea
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Re: Misdemeanor DUI and law school admissions

Postby Capitol_Idea » Wed May 06, 2015 6:53 am

1. If you want people to respond with personal experience, you should've made this an anonymous thread

2. You're no fun.

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haus
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Re: Misdemeanor DUI and law school admissions

Postby haus » Wed May 06, 2015 7:20 am

Well I agree with you that having something on your record that is negitive would put you at a disadvantage to an otherwise similar peer, but if it is an isolated event, I doubt the hole you are in would be that bad.

There are a few threads were former adcoms are taking questions, I would suggest asking in those threads because they will be the only ones who have seen this on any type of scale.

I beleive a similar question appeared on the Spivey thread a few months ago, you might want to look for that as well.

viewtopic.php?f=43&t=197451

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cron1834
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Re: Misdemeanor DUI and law school admissions

Postby cron1834 » Wed May 06, 2015 8:27 am

PropJoe wrote:I am asking a rather blunt question and wish to receive honest and informed feedback, not merely open a discussion laden with conjecture -- Can one be accepted into a top tier law school with a single misdemeanor DUI charge (all things being equal) ? From an extensive number of responses I read on LawQA regarding a similar question http://www.lawqa.com/qa/will-dui-conviction-prevent-me-from-getting-law-related-job, the general consensus appeared to be that it wouldn't automatically preclude one from gaining admittance into law school nor passing the bar. However, it certainly isn't advantageous, and would seem to serve as a mark against an applicant; bias and stigma are unavoidable, no matter how objective admission officers aim to be. In competing with potential candidates who carry similar statistics, it would seem unlikely the admissions team would struggle to select the candidates with no record over candidates with a record. I realize my analyzation of the decision-making process of admin teams is generalized and contains many suppositions, while I am asking for responses which are rooted in evidence derived either out of testimonial experience or some direct knowledge of the admissions process as it pertains to this question.

Thank you.

Dude chill out on the attempt to use big words. It makes you say things like "analyzation".

But, yeah, asking Spivey/Karen is probably your best bet for a reliable answer, tho surely there are some that can share anecdotes.

FloridaCoastalorbust
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Re: Misdemeanor DUI and law school admissions

Postby FloridaCoastalorbust » Wed May 06, 2015 9:21 am

talk to an admissions consultant to avoid opening "a discussion laden with conjecture"

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swampman
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Re: Misdemeanor DUI and law school admissions

Postby swampman » Wed May 06, 2015 9:37 am

PropJoe wrote:bias and stigma are unavoidable, no matter how objective admission officers aim to be. .

You got behind the wheel while drunk. An objective admissions officer would say you exercised extremely poor judgement, and thus you are a worse candidate all things being equal. That's not bias and stigma, that's being objective. Take some responsibility for your actions, and for the love of god do something about your writing.

SPerez
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Re: Misdemeanor DUI and law school admissions

Postby SPerez » Tue May 12, 2015 5:57 pm

The short answer is yes. People with criminal records can and do get admitted to law schools (incl. T14) every year. The thing is "all things" are never "equal". Could your numbers and rest of your file put you right at the line for one particular school, such that your conviction does end up being "the" thing that dings you? Sure? The odds of that scenario playing out are pretty slim, though.

One-off incidents usually aren't a problem as long as you disclose them fully and are appropriately contrite. (The exceptions I've seen are for what I label as "icky" crimes, e.g. domestic violence, child sex abuse, etc.)

Patterns of criminal behavior are much worse, especially substance abuse and crimes of dishonesty (e.g. theft, fraud, etc.) that show disregard for the rule of law. Those will also be of concern to your state bar. But even then, most states have programs where lawyers start of on some kind of probation with monitoring or reporting to allow people to create a track record and prove they are reformed.

Dean Perez
Texas Tech Law

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Nekrowizard
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bretby
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Re: Misdemeanor DUI and law school admissions

Postby bretby » Tue May 12, 2015 6:22 pm

SPerez wrote:The short answer is yes. People with criminal records can and do get admitted to law schools (incl. T14) every year. The thing is "all things" are never "equal". Could your numbers and rest of your file put you right at the line for one particular school, such that your conviction does end up being "the" thing that dings you? Sure? The odds of that scenario playing out are pretty slim, though.

One-off incidents usually aren't a problem as long as you disclose them fully and are appropriately contrite. (The exceptions I've seen are for what I label as "icky" crimes, e.g. domestic violence, child sex abuse, etc.)

Patterns of criminal behavior are much worse, especially substance abuse and crimes of dishonesty (e.g. theft, fraud, etc.) that show disregard for the rule of law. Those will also be of concern to your state bar. But even then, most states have programs where lawyers start of on some kind of probation with monitoring or reporting to allow people to create a track record and prove they are reformed.

Dean Perez
Texas Tech Law


Question: Why is a pattern of criminal behavior linked to substance abuse especially worse than another pattern of criminal behavior?

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bretby
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Re: Misdemeanor DUI and law school admissions

Postby bretby » Tue May 12, 2015 6:36 pm

SPerez wrote:The short answer is yes. People with criminal records can and do get admitted to law schools (incl. T14) every year. The thing is "all things" are never "equal". Could your numbers and rest of your file put you right at the line for one particular school, such that your conviction does end up being "the" thing that dings you? Sure? The odds of that scenario playing out are pretty slim, though.

One-off incidents usually aren't a problem as long as you disclose them fully and are appropriately contrite. (The exceptions I've seen are for what I label as "icky" crimes, e.g. domestic violence, child sex abuse, etc.)

Patterns of criminal behavior are much worse, especially substance abuse and crimes of dishonesty (e.g. theft, fraud, etc.) that show disregard for the rule of law. Those will also be of concern to your state bar. But even then, most states have programs where lawyers start of on some kind of probation with monitoring or reporting to allow people to create a track record and prove they are reformed.

Dean Perez
Texas Tech Law


ETA: Oops. Double post.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Misdemeanor DUI and law school admissions

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue May 12, 2015 6:50 pm

Many students are admitted to law schools with prior DUI convictions. Many law students get DUIs while in law school.

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ballcaps
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Re: Misdemeanor DUI and law school admissions

Postby ballcaps » Tue May 12, 2015 6:52 pm

swampman wrote:
PropJoe wrote:bias and stigma are unavoidable, no matter how objective admission officers aim to be. .

You got behind the wheel while drunk. An objective admissions officer would say you exercised extremely poor judgement, and thus you are a worse candidate all things being equal. That's not bias and stigma, that's being objective. Take some responsibility for your actions, and for the love of god do something about your writing.


lol thank you, someone had to point this out

CanadianWolf
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Re: Misdemeanor DUI and law school admissions

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue May 12, 2015 7:20 pm

OP: Is this currently a "DUI charge" or "conviction" ? I think that a pending charge may cause additional concerns as opposed to a conviction for which the penalty/sentence is known.

SPerez
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Re: Misdemeanor DUI and law school admissions

Postby SPerez » Wed May 13, 2015 9:37 am

bretby wrote:
SPerez wrote:The short answer is yes. People with criminal records can and do get admitted to law schools (incl. T14) every year. The thing is "all things" are never "equal". Could your numbers and rest of your file put you right at the line for one particular school, such that your conviction does end up being "the" thing that dings you? Sure? The odds of that scenario playing out are pretty slim, though.

One-off incidents usually aren't a problem as long as you disclose them fully and are appropriately contrite. (The exceptions I've seen are for what I label as "icky" crimes, e.g. domestic violence, child sex abuse, etc.)

Patterns of criminal behavior are much worse, especially substance abuse and crimes of dishonesty (e.g. theft, fraud, etc.) that show disregard for the rule of law. Those will also be of concern to your state bar. But even then, most states have programs where lawyers start of on some kind of probation with monitoring or reporting to allow people to create a track record and prove they are reformed.

Dean Perez
Texas Tech Law


Question: Why is a pattern of criminal behavior linked to substance abuse especially worse than another pattern of criminal behavior?


What I've always been told and understand is that a history of certain types of behaviors are particularly bad to have in lawyers. Lawyers are often in control of their clients' money in addition to their trust. Experience has shown that the risk of harm to clients is much higher if their lawyer has substance abuse problems, presumably since that often also involves poor job performance, involvement in illegal activity, possibly being in debt to not-so-nice people who might then put pressure on a person to steal from clients to avoid physical harm, etc.

Dean Perez

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bretby
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Re: Misdemeanor DUI and law school admissions

Postby bretby » Wed May 13, 2015 12:15 pm

SPerez wrote:
bretby wrote:
SPerez wrote:The short answer is yes. People with criminal records can and do get admitted to law schools (incl. T14) every year. The thing is "all things" are never "equal". Could your numbers and rest of your file put you right at the line for one particular school, such that your conviction does end up being "the" thing that dings you? Sure? The odds of that scenario playing out are pretty slim, though.

One-off incidents usually aren't a problem as long as you disclose them fully and are appropriately contrite. (The exceptions I've seen are for what I label as "icky" crimes, e.g. domestic violence, child sex abuse, etc.)

Patterns of criminal behavior are much worse, especially substance abuse and crimes of dishonesty (e.g. theft, fraud, etc.) that show disregard for the rule of law. Those will also be of concern to your state bar. But even then, most states have programs where lawyers start of on some kind of probation with monitoring or reporting to allow people to create a track record and prove they are reformed.

Dean Perez
Texas Tech Law


Question: Why is a pattern of criminal behavior linked to substance abuse especially worse than another pattern of criminal behavior?


What I've always been told and understand is that a history of certain types of behaviors are particularly bad to have in lawyers. Lawyers are often in control of their clients' money in addition to their trust. Experience has shown that the risk of harm to clients is much higher if their lawyer has substance abuse problems, presumably since that often also involves poor job performance, involvement in illegal activity, possibly being in debt to not-so-nice people who might then put pressure on a person to steal from clients to avoid physical harm, etc.

Dean Perez



Thanks for the response. This still doesn't make a lot of sense to me, though. First, the majority of substance abusers abuse alcohol precisely because they don't have to engage with shady characters/break the law to get it. Second, the kinds of pressures you describe would seem to apply equally well to other compulsive behaviors such as gambling. Finally, while it makes sense that theft and fraud might be especially troubling, it seems that any pattern of illegal behavior would raise similar concerns. Is there any pattern of illegal behavior that wouldn't, for instance, impact a client's ability to trust his lawyer?

Genuinely curious, as the substance abuse seems to be more of an illicit left over from when addiction was seen as a moral failing than anything that is actually defensible. Thanks for answering!

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Nekrowizard
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bretby
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Re: Misdemeanor DUI and law school admissions

Postby bretby » Wed May 13, 2015 4:09 pm

Nekrowizard wrote:I dunnno about alcoholism, but I've known a lot of legitimate drug addicts. You would be hard-pressed to find a less trustworthy group of people. I have never met a drug addict who did not steal from their parents, friends, and everyone they knew to support their addiction. Nor do I know very many who managed to reform successfully after getting treatment or being thrown in jail.

Of course, these were hard drugs. I'm less suspicious of alcoholics, though, all things being equal, I have no doubt that alcoholics are less competent than sober people. I also think you're right that compulsive gambling, for example, is just as likely to lead to fraud. And I'm sure that if compulsive gambling came with a criminal record, firms and law schools would look at it very poorly.


True. Everything I said was assuming that the addiction was not active. Which wasn't a distinction Dean Perez made in his post.

This is especially interesting given the high rates of substance abuse among lawyers.

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Nekrowizard
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strugglebus
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Re: Misdemeanor DUI and law school admissions

Postby strugglebus » Wed May 13, 2015 7:58 pm

bretby wrote:This is especially interesting given the high rates of substance abuse among lawyers.

High rates of substance abuse among lawyers probably contribute to an increased attentiveness to those sorts of issues when they come up on C&F and a desire to avoid selecting future lawyers likely to add to those statistics.

bretby wrote:Is there any pattern of illegal behavior that wouldn't, for instance, impact a client's ability to trust his lawyer?


It sounded like Dean Perez was saying patterns of criminal behavior are bad in general, and certain types of patterns are worse. A pattern of something like reckless driving probably wouldn't raise the same trust concerns (although if your lawyer needs to drive to court, you'd probably want them to be able to get there without ending up late b/c of a ticket or crashing or something)

SPerez
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Re: Misdemeanor DUI and law school admissions

Postby SPerez » Thu May 14, 2015 9:18 am

Remember this is in the context of the entire BLE application, which asks about a myriad of other areas of one's life. It's not a matter of gambling > alcoholism > heroin; it's all those things, each having their own particular brand of risk of harm to clients and the profession.

For example, these are some of the areas covered by the character and fitness questions in the Texas Declaration of Intent to Study Law:

*Criminal History
*History of Mental Illness
*History with regard to charges of fraud in any legal proceeding
*Involvement in civil litigation or bankruptcy proceedings
*History of compliance with court orders regarding child and/or spousal support
*History of repayment of Federal student loans (remember that guy in NY?)
*History of paying your taxes

As the kids used to say, they be gettin' all up in yo' bidness.

Dean Perez

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encore1101
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Re: Misdemeanor DUI and law school admissions

Postby encore1101 » Thu May 14, 2015 9:29 am

SPerez wrote:As the kids used to say, they be gettin' all up in yo' bidness.

Dean Perez



I wish more deans spoke like this.

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bretby
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Re: Misdemeanor DUI and law school admissions

Postby bretby » Thu May 14, 2015 9:33 am

SPerez wrote:Remember this is in the context of the entire BLE application, which asks about a myriad of other areas of one's life. It's not a matter of gambling > alcoholism > heroin; it's all those things, each having their own particular brand of risk of harm to clients and the profession.

For example, these are some of the areas covered by the character and fitness questions in the Texas Declaration of Intent to Study Law:

*Criminal History
*History of Mental Illness
*History with regard to charges of fraud in any legal proceeding
*Involvement in civil litigation or bankruptcy proceedings
*History of compliance with court orders regarding child and/or spousal support
*History of repayment of Federal student loans (remember that guy in NY?)
*History of paying your taxes

As the kids used to say, they be gettin' all up in yo' bidness.

Dean Perez


They surely are. Good thing all of us are pure as the driven snow!
Seriously, though, I know some people who got into trouble with the law when they were 18-21 and it is still having major repercussions for them employment-wise (they're not lawyers). It's pretty sobering (no pun intended) because I seriously doubt most college-aged kids realize that this stuff just does not go away.




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