Importance of Disclosing One’s Background on a Law School Application

Honesty in any occupation is important. This is especially true of those who are entering the area of law. Dishonesty and lack of character can ruin the reputation and career of a lawyer. The importance of disclosing truthfully one’s background on a law school application is critical not only to your law school career, but to your future career as a lawyer. Being honest when disclosing your background on a law school application also helps set you up for future success in your legal career.

The Application Questions

It is essential to know the parts of the law application when you fill out the application. The relevant parts of a law school application are those concerned with your moral character. The moral character part of the application is to assess if you are a trustworthy person to be a lawyer. The main questions asked on the application regarding moral character are:

  1. Have you ever withdrawn or been forced to withdraw from a college or university after accusations of violating conduct or honor codes? Acceptance into law school requires that other academic organizations have found you trustworthy enough to continue with your college or university work.
  2. Are there any disciplinary charges or actions expected to be taken against you? Being accepted into law school requires that you have not done something wrong in your academic or professional career. For example, a prospective law student who was reprimanded or fired for acting badly toward others at a summer job is an unlikely candidate to be in good standing in law school.
  3. Have you ever been arrested, taken into custody, or accused of breaking laws? Are criminal charges pending or expected to be brought against you? These questions can include driving when intoxicated, substance abuse such as marijuana use, juvenile offenses, traffic violations, and expunged records. Expunged records are criminal records that have been erased from your history. You should still include these on your application for transparency.
  4. Do you have credit or other financial problems? Your credit history will sometimes be part of your character and fitness application. The reason behind this is that, as a lawyer, you may be entrusted with your client’s money. While paying some bills such as tuition bills can be difficult, include this information on your application.
  5. Do you have a history of mental or substance abuse problems? This is a difficult and personal question to be asked. However, it’s not a “gotcha” question where you will be considered less worthy of admission. Similar to the financial information, this is a question where you can demonstrate that you are pursuing help for your problems and showing the responsibility necessary to have a career as a lawyer.

Consequences

The consequences of being dishonest on your law school application can be life-changing. If a bar admission office or another investigates your law school application and finds that you have been deceitful, the law school can remove you as a student. You can consequently be prevented from applying to and attending other law schools. If the investigation before or after you have passed the bar occurs, you can be prevented from taking the bar or disbarred from being a lawyer. This means you will not be licensed as a lawyer or can lose the privilege of your law license. Honesty, even if the truth is painful, is essential to gaining or retaining the privilege of practicing law.