Effect of My Criminal Record on Employment

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aspiringlawyer01

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Effect of My Criminal Record on Employment

Postby aspiringlawyer01 » Fri Oct 21, 2016 1:00 pm

How many law firms run background checks on Summer associates and hires?

I have a misdemeanor criminal conviction that resulted from trying to contact an ex-gf when she had made it known she wanted to be left alone. Basically I had called and emailed a ex-gf when she didn't want to be contacted. I got charged with harassment, email misuse and phone misuse as well as a violation of a temporary restraining order. I took a plea where I admitted guilt to email misuse and the other charges were nolle prossed. This all happened over 7 years ago and I have not had any trouble with the law since.

Is this really going to limit my chances at legal employment? I have heard of Law firms even BigLaw firms overlooking misdemeanors like public intoxication, dui and misdemeanor possession. But what about something like this?

I tried doing a search on TLS but couldn't find a thread with anyone that was in a similar situation as I'm in.

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TLSModBot

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Re: Effect of My Criminal Record on Employment

Postby TLSModBot » Fri Oct 21, 2016 10:01 pm

One non-violent and non-fraud misdemeanor from 7 years ago probably isn't going to sink you

ballouttacontrol

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Re: Effect of My Criminal Record on Employment

Postby ballouttacontrol » Fri Oct 21, 2016 10:14 pm

your guess is as good as ours as to whether it would hurt u if they actually pulled ur crim record before making offers/CBs (a couple firms did this to me, or told me to bring the background check form to the CB interview). But very few firms do before making offers. They will do it after the offer, but I highly doubt they'd pull an offer for something like that

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Lacepiece23

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Re: Effect of My Criminal Record on Employment

Postby Lacepiece23 » Fri Oct 21, 2016 10:46 pm

You're fine. Don't worry law firms have seen worse and won't care.

tyroneslothrop1

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Re: Effect of My Criminal Record on Employment

Postby tyroneslothrop1 » Fri Oct 21, 2016 11:38 pm

I'd be more wary of hiring a person with this sort of conviction as opposed to a DUI.

aspiringlawyer01

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Re: Effect of My Criminal Record on Employment

Postby aspiringlawyer01 » Sat Oct 22, 2016 6:39 am

Is it just the Biglaw firms that do background checks and ask about criminal records. Or is it pretty much standard no matter what the size of the Law firm?

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rcharter1978

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Re: Effect of My Criminal Record on Employment

Postby rcharter1978 » Sat Oct 22, 2016 7:02 am

tyroneslothrop1 wrote:I'd be more wary of hiring a person with this sort of conviction as opposed to a DUI.


I might be as well....however, when I think of how many.....persistent personalities I met in law school I'm guessing this sort of thing has happened with more than a few attorneys at top firms.

aspiringlawyer01

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Re: Effect of My Criminal Record on Employment

Postby aspiringlawyer01 » Sat Oct 22, 2016 11:08 am

rcharter1978 wrote:
tyroneslothrop1 wrote:I'd be more wary of hiring a person with this sort of conviction as opposed to a DUI.


I might be as well....however, when I think of how many.....persistent personalities I met in law school I'm guessing this sort of thing has happened with more than a few attorneys at top firms.


Are you speaking as a Law Student or as someone who is a Partner at a firm?

I've heard of people who became successful attorneys after far worse convictions than I've had. However I just wanted to get some feedback from the TLS community on this matter.

I don't think it's fair to hold a conviction against someone for the rest of their lives, especially if it's not a violent or sexual offense. How are people supposed to rehabilitate themselves if society marks them as a Pariah? My state actually changed it's laws so misdemeanor convictions like mine can be expunged after a certain period of time.

We are living in the information age where some youthful indiscretion can follow someone for the rest of their lives. I don't believe the laws of the land have caught up to this reality yet.

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kellyfrost

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Re: Effect of My Criminal Record on Employment

Postby kellyfrost » Sat Oct 22, 2016 11:51 am

aspiringlawyer01 wrote:
rcharter1978 wrote:
tyroneslothrop1 wrote:I'd be more wary of hiring a person with this sort of conviction as opposed to a DUI.


I might be as well....however, when I think of how many.....persistent personalities I met in law school I'm guessing this sort of thing has happened with more than a few attorneys at top firms.


Are you speaking as a Law Student or as someone who is a Partner at a firm?

I've heard of people who became successful attorneys after far worse convictions than I've had. However I just wanted to get some feedback from the TLS community on this matter.

I don't think it's fair to hold a conviction against someone for the rest of their lives, especially if it's not a violent or sexual offense. How are people supposed to rehabilitate themselves if society marks them as a Pariah? My state actually changed it's laws so misdemeanor convictions like mine can be expunged after a certain period of time.

We are living in the information age where some youthful indiscretion can follow someone for the rest of their lives. I don't believe the laws of the land have caught up to this reality yet.


charter is NOT a partner in a law firm. So take her opinion for what it is worth.
Last edited by kellyfrost on Sat Jan 27, 2018 3:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Winter is Coming

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Re: Effect of My Criminal Record on Employment

Postby Winter is Coming » Sat Oct 22, 2016 11:53 am

Make sure you disclose if asked, there's nothing you can do besides that, will probably hurt you vis-a-vis applicants without a record but isn't a deal breaker. I will tell you that the attitude of referring to it as a "youthful indiscretion" will hurt you far more than the actual charge. I'm not trying to be a dick but I'm not sure in what alternate reality violating a restraining order is not a big deal.

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A. Nony Mouse

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Re: Effect of My Criminal Record on Employment

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Oct 22, 2016 12:10 pm

Yeah, I don't know that it will hurt you at all. As someone mentioned, firms are unlikely to ask about this until after making an offer, and it doesn't have to do with fraud or embezzlement or the like so you'll probably be fine.

But law is a profession that has a higher barrier to entry and considers c&f where many professions don't, so I don't think what you have to disclose for law goes to whether you're going to be a pariah for life generally speaking. This doesn't have anything to do with the information age; you'd have had to disclose this whenever you entered the legal profession and the laws of the land aren't going to "catch up" because this isn't a bug, it's a feature.

Also, for what it's worth I tend to see violating a restraining order as first cousin to a violent or sexual offense. I just tend to think that a legal employer isn't going to care, assuming it's an isolated incident, distant in time, you haven't had any other problems, and you're an otherwise desirable candidate.

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rinkrat19

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Re: Effect of My Criminal Record on Employment

Postby rinkrat19 » Sat Oct 22, 2016 12:35 pm

As someone who just spent the better part of a year prosecuting violations of restraining orders, I can confirm that they are taken very seriously, and definitely considered "first cousins" (like Nony said) to much more serious domestic violence crimes. At sentencing, for example, a prior VRO will hurt a defendant a lot more than a past DUII. It's considered a sign of inability/unwillingness to follow laws and court orders, and an indicator of future escalation to more serious DV crimes. It might have been "just" emails and phone calls, but the issue is consent and your refusal to respect a lack thereof.

It'd probably kill your chances at a prosecution job. I'm sure it matters somewhat less to biglaw, but it's still going to be a red flag. What size the flag will be, I don't really know. It's good that it was 7 years ago and you're clean since.

Definitely disclose, and don't try to weasel your way out of admitting the seriousness of the mistake. Show you know how serious it was and that it's something you would never ever feel compelled to do again.

tyroneslothrop1

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Re: Effect of My Criminal Record on Employment

Postby tyroneslothrop1 » Sat Oct 22, 2016 1:24 pm

Absolutely expunge to the extent you can. Many states have laws that are very specific re: there being no duty to disclose when a conviction is expunged.

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A. Nony Mouse

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Re: Effect of My Criminal Record on Employment

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Oct 22, 2016 1:31 pm

tyroneslothrop1 wrote:Absolutely expunge to the extent you can. Many states have laws that are very specific re: there being no duty to disclose when a conviction is expunged.

That's probably the case for legal employment, but keep in mind for the bar you will likely have to disclose even expunged convictions.

aspiringlawyer01

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Re: Effect of My Criminal Record on Employment

Postby aspiringlawyer01 » Sat Oct 22, 2016 3:04 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Yeah, I don't know that it will hurt you at all. As someone mentioned, firms are unlikely to ask about this until after making an offer, and it doesn't have to do with fraud or embezzlement or the like so you'll probably be fine.

But law is a profession that has a higher barrier to entry and considers c&f where many professions don't, so I don't think what you have to disclose for law goes to whether you're going to be a pariah for life generally speaking. This doesn't have anything to do with the information age; you'd have had to disclose this whenever you entered the legal profession and the laws of the land aren't going to "catch up" because this isn't a bug, it's a feature.

Also, for what it's worth I tend to see violating a restraining order as first cousin to a violent or sexual offense. I just tend to think that a legal employer isn't going to care, assuming it's an isolated incident, distant in time, you haven't had any other problems, and you're an otherwise desirable candidate.


Almost every profession considers C&F. Try working retail with a misdemeanor theft conviction. Any job these days is going to involve a background check. I'm saying criminal records following people around is a result of the information age. 100 years ago there was no way to verify the existence of criminal records. The whole procedure of standardized background checks for employment, school, and housing purposes didn't become the norm until the advent of the internet. While I'm not implying that background checks shouldn't be done, I believe there needs to be procedures where people can expunge certain convictions so they don't have to deal with the collateral consequences for the rest of their lives.

There are no universal laws governing what you have to disclose to the State Bar. In some Jurisdictions you don't need to disclose expunged records to the State Bar. And different states have different laws governing expungement. Laws can change. The Law isn't chiseled in stone it's fluid and a subject to the zeitgeist of the age.

As for a violation of a restraining order being related to a violent or sexual offense. Maybe that's the general perception out there and perhaps there's more stigma attached to it than other types of crimes. Hopefully it's something I'll be able to overcome.

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A. Nony Mouse

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Re: Effect of My Criminal Record on Employment

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Oct 22, 2016 3:24 pm

My point was that whatever the effect of the internet on background checks generally (which I think you actually overstate - there have been companies running background checks for a long time, it's just easier now that we have the internet), law requires you to be licensed, which is a privilege and not a right, and so you're stuck with revealing things to get licensed that you wouldn't normally have to reveal. So I'm talking about C&F as a legal term rather than just a standard background check. Yes, what the legal profession is concerned about can change over time, but I think it's also always going to claim a heightened concern with some kinds of matters (like fraud/money problems) that it will claim should trump state rules about expungement and so on. But admittedly I'm also kind of conflating what you have to report to the bar and what a background check for legal employment will entail, because they're not the same at all (I'm presuming most biglaw firms are just going to run a standard background check subject to standard state requirements, which is much less burdensome than applying to get admitted to the bar).

Maybe what I'm really trying to say is that the legal profession tends to favor disclosing everything but not caring about most of the stuff you disclose, over giving people more leeway about what to disclose. (Are you a current law student/bar applicant or where are you in the process? It's a weird cultural thing that that the further you get in law the more natural it becomes to say "disclose everything.")

Edit: just saw your question about the LSAT, so I'm moving this to the correct forum - 0Ls are not allowed to post in the Legal Employment forum.

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Clearly

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Re: Effect of My Criminal Record on Employment

Postby Clearly » Sat Oct 22, 2016 4:03 pm

Big law firms will run a background check, but they never do without your signature first. All but one of my interview firms didn't mention it till the offer letter "contingent on background check and conflicts clearance", exactly one firm made me sign a document when I arrived to do the callback but before I interviewed. I disclosed accurately and was dinged by them the next day. Of course that was the first callback I went on so I was convinced it was gonna happen at 16 more firms , but they were the only one lol.

Winter is Coming

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Re: Effect of My Criminal Record on Employment

Postby Winter is Coming » Sun Oct 23, 2016 1:08 am

I want to post to echo what Nony is saying but also to make it very, very clear that treating violating a restraining order like its and underage drinking ticket is a little weird and if you continue to do that throughout this process it will hurt you. You seem pretty set on the "this isn't a big deal and shouldn't have any consequences for me" angle which I kinda get because it was years ago but its still something you have to own.

aspiringlawyer01

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Re: Effect of My Criminal Record on Employment

Postby aspiringlawyer01 » Sun Oct 23, 2016 4:14 am

Does the document they give you actually inform you of the company that will be running the background check? I want to make sure that my background check is accurate before my employer gets it.

What percentage of firms do background checks? Is this a Biglaw thing or is it pretty much standard for all firms, regardless of size.

And lastly was your criminal matter similar to mine? You can PM me if you don't want to disclose on this forum.
Last edited by aspiringlawyer01 on Sun Oct 23, 2016 7:51 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Clearly

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Re: Effect of My Criminal Record on Employment

Postby Clearly » Sun Oct 23, 2016 6:53 am

Can't answer most of those. In my very limited experience, each of the firms I proactively disclosed to before accepting an offer but after being made aware of impending background check wasn't going to run the check until months later, before the summer starts but way too far after OCI to find a new plan if things fell through (thus the disclosing right away), so with that in mind I only actually saw the one form of the firm I accepted, and by then they knew what they would find. It was actually a form BY the company running the check with all of the info I could ask for, I'd assume other firms will also let you know who's running the check.

I don't know which percentage of firms overall check, I just know each of the biglaw firms I have experience either do, or claim to do, background checks.

My criminal matter was not similar to you.

Please don't quote this post, and please edit your prior post and remove my quote. There's no reason to quote on these topics.



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