Law Students

5 Ways to Address Potential Red Flags for the Bar Exam
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red flag

Summary: Law students that have things in their application that may be a problem in being admitted to a state bar need to address those red flags now.

Preparing for the bar exam and the character and fitness evaluation part of the process can never start too soon. A candidate that is serious about being a lawyer will start the process to improve their application before beginning law school. Even though the bar exam is not for several years, potential law students should start fixing any problems in their application that may be a red flag to investigators. U.S. News discusses the character and fitness evaluation portion of the bar exam and how students should prepare themselves now.

  
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Here are five steps to fix those red flags now:

  1. Full disclosure

In the disclosure part of the law school application, it is best to err on the side of over-disclosure than to not disclose everything as that will look like you are hiding something. Even if the criminal history is for unpaid parking tickets or an eviction notice, provide all the details of the legal action you have experienced. Remember that secrets always come out, so it is best to make sure they are discovered on your terms and not during the character and fitness investigation, which could end up preventing you from being admitted to the bar. You want to appear honest in all parts of your law school application, including your resume.

  1. Show steps to rehabilitation

If you have a criminal history, once you have fully disclosed that past history, detail the steps you have taken to correct the troubles. This should show your commitment to personal improvement through positive social contributions like volunteer work. You want the reader of your application to understand that you have taken deliberate steps to change your course for the better and distance yourself from misconduct.

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  1. Receive treatment

When your criminal history warrants treatment for substance abuse or mental illness, obtain that treatment. You will be asked during the character and fitness investigation for the bar exam in most states about any mental illness or substance abuse. While some bar applicants may be tempted to hide these matters, hiding it and then having the investigators uncover the truth on their own will be worse. However, taking responsibility for any mental illness or substance abuse problems shows more strength of character. Failing to get help may jeopardize your bar admission as well as your ability to effectively practice law.

  1. Financial responsibility

You may not be aware of this fact, but bar investigators will look into your income tax returns, credit reports, and records into any lawsuits or financial obligations to ensure you are financially responsible. Financial responsibility is part of the bar admission process. Take steps before law school to make any corrections to your financial mistakes and keep living a financially responsible life by checking your credit history and correcting any inaccuracies that pop up. If there are overdue debts or bankruptcies in your past, including failure to pay child support, bounced checks, and failure to file or pay taxes, correct those debts now. Have a payment plan set up to show you are taking responsibility for your debts, giving evidence to show you are living frugally to get those debts paid off quickly. In the end, the worst thing you can do is nothing.



  1. Social media

Your social media presence needs to be a positive and professional experience. It is assumed that by this point in the law school application process that you have already cleaned up your profiles, but if not, do it now. Imagine how you portray yourself through social media. You want to be projecting a proper image to those viewing your profile. Do not let your behavior on social media raise any concerns about your character, integrity, or professionalism as a representative of the legal profession. Remove any questionable images or comments.

Do you think professionals, like attorneys, should refrain from personal social media use? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about attorneys who have gotten in trouble because of inappropriate comments, read these articles:

Source: U.S. News

Photo: commons.wikimedia.org



 

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