Irregularities and misconduct

Applications require you to report incidents of cheating, academic fraud, plagiarism, suspensions, arrests, convictions, etc. You must answer any questions concerning your academic and judicial record truthfully and be prepared to write a brief essay to explain those circumstances. When writing the “explanation” essay, be sure to state facts and circumstances clearly and briefly; make the distinction between what was within and beyond your control if applicable; but especially focus on the lesson learned, the final outcome or the current impact of the incident.  The LSAC and the law school admission committees will look at your explanation of the events as well as when they occurred, patterns of behavior, evidence of reform, etc.

In general terms, it is usually best to err on the side of disclosure. Prior offenses are not fatal to your application, but lying is. While the rules for admission to the bar vary from state to state, minor offenses should not be a barrier to your admission anywhere. For example, many law school applicants will have some sort of alcohol or traffic violation on their records. As long as these were isolated incidents (vs. a chain of repeated occurrences), they won’t jeopardize your overall application. Even past criminal offenses do not automatically disqualify someone from entering law school. What is a near-automatic barrier to admission is to lie on the bar application or a law school application by failing to disclose a prior offense. In many states, the applications will require you to disclose even those offenses that have been cleared or expunged or even permanently sealed. Failure to do so is considered perjury and will most likely preclude your admission in that state and every other state as well. Each bar organization will have its own requirements and restrictions regarding past criminal offenses of applicants. It is advisable to inquire about these restrictions from each state where you plan on practicing to see if you will have any problems gaining membership to the bar in that state.