Law School Discussion

Law Students => Current Law Students => Topic started by: opal on May 06, 2015, 08:20:20 PM

Title: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 06, 2015, 08:20:20 PM
I had serious disciplinary issues in law school. I am wondering whether they will impact my C&F determination.

In fall 2013, I had a manic episode and as a result I was placed on University Probation, which lasted for the academic year. In addition, the aggrieved individuals lodged a stay away order against me. Conduct in question was harassing, aggressive, belligerent behavior over the phone, email, and in person.

In May 2014, the probation was lifted. In addition, as of now, the stay away order has been lifted for all but 2 individuals.

In fall 2014, I had another manic episode.  I was charged by my student conduct office with disorderly conduct, creating a community disturbance, failure to comply, and property damage. In addition, while the investigation was ongoing, I was given an interim suspension (not a sanction) and I was banned from campus by the school police. Later, my school gave me the option of doing a medical withdrawal in lieu of going thru the student conduct process and receiving a formal sanction. I am still not allowed on campus without the permission of the Dean.

During the medical withdrawal, I have been treated for bipolar disorder. I am under the care of a psychiatrist (monthly), a psychotherapist (weekly), and a bipolar support group (weekly). In addition, I am volunteering with legal aid in the interim to help show my rehabilitation. I will attempt to reenroll in law school in fall 2015, with the recommendation of my psychiatrist, psychotherapist, psychologist, and support group leader that I am not a danger to myself or others.
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: loki13 on May 07, 2015, 07:10:49 AM
opal,

There's a lot to unpack here. So let me start with the basics- you failed to provide one crucial piece of information. What state? Every state has a different bar. Some states' bars are notorious for the C&F (sometimes called moral character and fitness) determinations, some states are a little more lax. So that would help.

Next, your question is whether this will impact the determination. That's easy- yes, it will. It will impact it. The type of impact it will have is the interesting question.

Then there's the issue of re-enrolling. Here's the thing- when you re-enroll, you have to be 150% honest. Go above and beyond. Disclose everything to the law school. Why? Because what kills people with "issues" isn't just the issue, it's the candor. The bar loves that word. They don't like to screw you on the actual issues (for reasons we will discuss shortly), but they will nail you every time if you haven't been candid. Partly it's because you are required to be candid as an attorney. Partly it's because that's one area where the bar can restrict membership easily, and if you've lied or failed to disclose on a law school admission, they can go after you for that.

Now, you'll have to divide the issues into two areas- the legal issues, and the medical issues. While you present them as intertwined, and they are, they present slightly different issues. The legal issues (the stay order, the campus sanctions) are the type of issues that, but for your illness, you'd have to otherwise explain away. The mental illness issue, properly treated, also would not be enough to deny you admission.

But the mental illness issue is further complicated. IIRC, in the last few years, several state bars have come under fire because denying someone solely based on a mental illness may be considered a violation of the ADA. But this is an evolving area of the law.

Arggh... so what does this all mean?
1. Many states have some type of lawyer assistance for attorneys and/or law students who have struggled with mental illness or substance abuse. See if your state has one and contact them. They may be able to help you.
2. Be candid.
3. Be healthy!!!!!!
4. Talk to someone informally in your state who is a practitioner about your issues; maybe a professor at the law school could point you in the right direction (a PR prof?)? You may want to contact an attorney who specializes in bar admissions issues.

I don't want to write any of this to discourage you. Many attorneys have struggled with substance abuse and mental illness, and have not only been accepted by their state bar, but have successful practices. Just make sure you protect yourself.
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 07, 2015, 08:33:13 AM
I don't know what state I will end up in because I don't have a job lined up.  Possibly PA, but who knows?
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: loki13 on May 07, 2015, 09:01:07 AM
opal,

I am not familiar with Pennsylvania. I will assume that you're planning on practicing in the state where you are re-enrolling in law school. Pennsylvania, I believe, is one of the few states that does not specifically ask about mental illness, but does have a catch-all question. In addition, it will be extremely difficult to explain the recent issues you had in law school and the order against you without full disclosure.

At this point, everything you are doing is correct. If your question is a general, "I screwed up, I have been diagnosed as bipolar, can I pass?" then my answer to you is a qualified yes.  (That's going to be a common answer you can give as a practitioner!). Mental illness, alone, will not disqualify you from any Bar so long as you show evidence that you acknowledge the problem, you are treating it, and it will not impact your ability to practice law while treated (which is a little bit of a higher bar than not a danger to yourself or others!).

However, you should be aware that your illness, *combined with your recent conduct in law school* will raise a red flag, and the bar will be reviewing your application very thoroughly. Make sure you have been candid in the past- including your original law school application (and make sure you amend, if necessary). The exact facts and issues are going to be a little complex, and I don't know that you want to get too detailed on a public forum on the internet, so I will repeat my advice to you- talk to an individual familiar with the process in Pennsylvania, confidentially. Clear the first hurdle (get back in school!) and worry about the Bar after after that. Nothing you've written will automatically disqualify you, so long as you remain candid.
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 07, 2015, 09:07:45 AM
Why do I have to amend my law school application?  All these events happened during law school and the administration is well aware of it.  Not a blemish on my record prior to fall 2013 (no criminal history, no disciplinary action in school, etc.)
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: loki13 on May 07, 2015, 09:27:03 AM
opal,

I stated that you need to make sure you have been candid in the past. If you were, then no problem.

Again, every state is different. If there are no "red flags," then most applications, in most states, tend to sail through. Yours--- won't. You have a *recent* stay order against you, as well as disciplinary action against you in law school. For these reasons, it is incredibly likely that the Bar will go through your past more thoroughly.

I added that note as a caution, as I have experience dealing with attorneys seeking admission in a different jurisdiction that have similar issues. It is rare for someone to have issues with mental illness or substance abuse as serious as yours that have caused no problems at all, and then suddenly cause such serious problems in law school. But it does happen. More often, however, they had sporadic issues prior to that, there was a question on the law school application that could have been answered one of two ways (let's say... completely candidly, or a little less candidly), and they chose less candidly. It's no big deal if they amend prior to the process (assuming it's something small).

If this doesn't apply to you, ignore it. And I will reiterate that mental illness, alone, will not be a reason to deny you the license.
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 07, 2015, 09:45:03 AM
The stay away orders were not done thru a court.  They were done through the school, just to clarify.

What are my chances of getting into a local school as a transfer/exchange student?  I don't want to go back to my original school.  I want to finish my JD at a local law school so I can continue my treatment. 
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: loki13 on May 07, 2015, 10:07:11 AM
opal,

Thank you for the clarification! It's certainly better that it was just a school sanction.

Regarding the transfer- eh.... too many factors to consider. Your timeline makes it look like you started in 2013, and didn't quite finish your first semester of your second year. So it would be a decent option just based on time. But you- 1) have disciplinary issues at your prior school, and 2) I would assume that the same issue you had might have prevented you from being at the top of your class?

You can always try. On the plus side, enrollment numbers are way down, so if you're paying full freight somewhere, you might have more of a shot.
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 07, 2015, 10:31:30 AM
Thanks for all your help, loki.

To clarify, I have already completed two years of law school (58 credits).  So I would like to be a visiting/exchange student at a local school for my third year so I can continue my treatment while completing my degree.  I do not under any circumstances want to return to my original school.  As a visiting student, you get the degree from your original school, and the classes taken at the visitor school are not calculated into your GPA (but you get credit for them).   

Re: grades, I have a 3.006 GPA, though a strong upward trend (~3.5 average for 2L year).  My original school is ~T30 and the schools I want to apply to are TT/TTT.
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: loki13 on May 07, 2015, 10:57:16 AM
opal,

That's great info! Visiting student status is very different than a "pure" transfer. One of my good friends did that back in law school (he did his first two years with me on the East Coast, then went to Loyola-LA law as a visiting student for his third year) and it's definitely doable, but fairly rare. That said, it may be something your current school administration would be amenable to, given both your needs (continued stability, etc.) and, perhaps, their needs.

I think you will need to start with a conversation with your current school's administration (some type of Dean of Student, etc., whoever you feel comfortable talking to). It is my general understanding that you would need to be "enrolled" at your current institution (cleared) before you can visit another for your third year. Remember, though, that the administration, despite whatever disagreements you might have had with them, has an interest in your success as well, if for no other reasons than to keep their numbers up.

Good luck!
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 07, 2015, 11:35:11 AM
Yes, you're right--I need to be readmitted back into my original school before I can apply as a visiting student to the local schools. 

In July, I will have my psychiatrist. psychologist, psychotherapist, and support group director submit evaluations to my original school saying that under treatment I am doing stable and do not present a danger to myself or others.  I will also submit a letter of support from a law professor I have good rapport with, a letter of recommendation from my internship supervisor and my MPRE score report (passed with a 128) as further evidence that I am doing well and can successfully resume my legal education.  My parents are willing to personally speak with the school administration about the visiting situation and the fact that I need to stay local in order to continue my treatment for bipolar disorder.   

I'm just worried that given my lengthy rap sheet with the school, they won't take me back despite positive evaluations from my treatment providers and other evidence of my stability.  Do I have any legal recourse if they reject my petition for readmission?  (i.e. discrimination under the ADA)
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: loki13 on May 07, 2015, 11:54:49 AM
opal,

At this point, I know you're looking for specificity, but I have to be general. You need to look at the terms of your medical leave of absence/medical withdrawal/whatever it was called. Did you have specific terms written down? Was it pursuant to an official policy? Were there verbal terms offered by a decision maker that you know of and can reference? Or was it a general understanding? Make sure you understand that, and comply (to the best of your ability) with any terms. Include references to said terms in your petition for readmission to show your compliance.

At this point, just make sure you're taking care of yourself, and documenting. It doesn't pay to think "three chess moves ahead." Legal options should be a last resort.* Again, if there is someone at the school that you can speak candidly with, and informally with, regarding your desire to re-enroll so that you can visit at another school, that might be a good thing. I am somewhat concerned that you'd look to have your parents have that conversation; while I know that these past experiences have been exceptionally difficult for you, the school's administration would probably feel better seeing that you can discuss these issues. 

Good luck.

*Remember that filing a lawsuit means depositions, discovery, litigation costs, etc. Not to mention time and stress. My advice as an attorney, when talking to friends, is always to avoid litigation whenever possible. It's a fun job, but a terrible life, if you know what I mean.
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 07, 2015, 12:21:23 PM
Yes, there were specific terms written down for the medical withdrawal.  The terms included:

-that I stay off campus
-that I seek mental health treatment
-that the treatment providers should submit their evaluations to University Counseling Services for the purposes of my readmission
-that I sign a release allowing University Counseling Services to speak with my treatment providers

My parents are going to send an email to the Director of University Counseling Services and the Dean of Students in June to set up a face-to-face meeting in July re: visiting away logistics at one of the local schools.  I think, given my history, that it's best that I have as little contact as possible with the administration.  They clearly don't respect me (for obvious reasons), but they will respect my parents (mom is a psychiatrist).   
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 08, 2015, 05:47:18 AM
Another ?, if you don't mind...

I have consulted with various attorneys in my state who specialize in representing bar applicants in C&F.  One firm offered a flat fee of $3,500 to represent me before C&F.  Is this a reasonable fee or should I keep shopping around?  Other firms offered $1,000 retainers with hourly rates of up to $400.  I'm guessing my case would take more than 10 hours to prepare, but that's just a hunch. 
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: loki13 on May 14, 2015, 01:34:29 PM
Been away for a while.

As a general rule (and I do mean general), the better attorneys will charge by the hour (with a retainer). An attorney who charges a flat fee (for something other than the absolutely most mundane issue, like a simple will or other transaction) will be looking to minimize their work.

But the most important thing is fit. People often discount how they feel when the talk to their attorney. Yes, some will put on the charm offensive for the first meeting and then disregard you. But this is supposed to be a relationship. Would you feel comfortable having this person represent you? Did they explain the issues? Etc.
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 14, 2015, 04:53:41 PM
Yes, I would feel comfortable having this firm rep me.  I had a free consult with one of the attorneys.  He explained the C&F process in general and I felt like I developed a good rapport with him.  I hesitate to hire the hourly fee attorneys.   I just feel that my case, given how messy it is, will take a lot more than 10 hours to prepare and I don't think I could stomach paying more than $3,500. 

Thanks for all of your input.  I hope my school buys my redemption crusade. I just don't know what I'd do if I lose out on my dream.  :( 
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on May 15, 2015, 05:13:35 PM
Nice to have the site up and running again.

Hi Opal. Loki has done a very good job of addressing the major issues, but I just wanted to mention a few things.

First, I'm not familiar with PA's C&F process, but I imagine it's not too different from CA (my home state). The key to C&F issues is full, unequivocal disclosure. The Bar is often quite forgiving of many issues, but NOT of a lack of candor. I was always told that if in doubt, fully disclose.

Your situation IS going to attract the attention of the bar. You will have to disclose the disciplinary actions, and they will likely investigate. Admission to the bar will likely rest on two major factors: 1) your honesty, candor, and willingness to cooperate, and 2) your ability to demonstrate recovery. At least here in CA, it is up to the applicant to demonstrate that they presently possess good moral character. In other words, the burden is on you.

Part of the Bar's job is to protect the public. Thus, they are probably going to want to see that this problem is behind you rather than ongoing. You're going to have to establish that, probably by showing a clean track record for a decent period of time accompanied by affidavits from doctors attesting to your progress. BTW, don't take my word as anything more than my non-professional opinion. This is just based on what I remember from law school.

I would think that at this point any talk of an ADA lawsuit is premature, to say the least. Even if the Bar did turn you down, I'm not sure how successful that route would be as opposed to waiting a couple years, showing continued progress, and reapplying. Typically, people who are denied the C&F are not permanently denied. They can reapply and show changed circumstances. Again, just my opinion, but I wouldn't want to get into an adversarial relationship with the Bar if I could avoid it. It often doesn't turn out well.

As far as getting into another school to finish out your JD, I don't know. I mean, honestly, having a disciplinary action on your record is not a small issue. My guess is that most schools would want to see changed circumstances before admitting you.

Loki gave great advice regarding retaining an attorney. If you decide to go this route, pay attention to the "chemistry". It really does help when you have a natural, positive relationship with someone who you're going to have to spill your guts to.
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 16, 2015, 07:49:51 AM
By "legal recourse" I didn't mean sue the C&F folks for denying me.  I meant to ask what should I do if my law school doesn't readmit me.
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on May 16, 2015, 12:40:11 PM
Yes, my mistake.

As far as readmission/ADA "reasonable accommodations", I don't know. The school will be balancing your rights against their obligation to provide safety for other students. Perhaps finishing at another school renders the point moot?

I strongly believe that the key is to get healthy FIRST. Not only will you be in a better position to demonstrate changed circumstances, but you will probably do better on a personal level, too. I wish all the luck in the world with your continued recovery. People with such issues DO finish law school, pass the bar, and get admitted. Take care of your most immediate needs first, and everything else will follow (even if it takes a little longer than anticipated).

One last point: if I were an administrator at your law school, I would be wary of speaking to your parents without you being present. I would want to see that you were at least capable of handling a conference on your own before I'd consider readmission. I would expect that from any adult. This may be something to discuss with your lawyer.

 
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 17, 2015, 05:50:16 AM
I would like my parents/treatment providers to do most of the communicating because the school has respect for those individuals (parents are physicians, mom is a psychiatrist).  I won't hold any clout on my own.  They f-ing despise me and want nothing more than to throw me under the bus. 
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: loki13 on May 18, 2015, 06:47:45 AM
opal,

I think that both maintain and I have made the same point regarding meeting with the school's administration, but this is something to discuss further with your people you trust (not on the internet).

It has been my experience that the following statements are true:
1) No law school administration would be keen to re-enroll a student without meeting with them first to make sure they pass the eye test. If you aren't able to even meet with them, that's not a good sign, no matter how many affidavits and declarations you give them.
2) If, as you keep saying, the student believes the administration "despise(s)*" them and wants to "throw [them] under the bus," then that is unlikely to be a sign that the student is in a good place to re-enroll. It is entirely possible that the administration did not deal with your illness correctly or in a timely fashion; but you should probably look at your own actions as well. Not only for this (getting back into school) but for the bar, and for your general well being. It sounds like you had some serious issues, and you were unable to continue school. While your school might not have handled it optimally, it doesn't pay to blame them. Also- an administration (a school) doesn't "despise" or have feelings or want anything. There are people (decision makers) who are risk averse who will make decisions. It would help to remember that these people will want you to end up graduating (if possible- because it's good for their numbers, etc.) while not risking any issues with the safety of the student body (since now they're on notice of these issues). I would hope that in your two prior years at that school you built a relationship with a professor or a member of the administration that you could speak about these issues with.
3)  There is a general belief among an older generation that "today's kids" are coddled by their parents (the helicopter parent thing). I think that, for the most part, this meme is overblown. Nevertheless, remember that you are an adult, and while your parents certainly can assist you, the school (and, later, the bar) is going to want to see *you* acting, not them. You taking responsibility for your treatment, your progress, you illness, and so on.

*Editing note- bracket s is strikethrough!
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on May 18, 2015, 10:11:44 AM
The admin may not even be able to discuss your situation with your parents due to privacy requirements. (A waiver may be required). There may also be privacy issues involving the other students. Just remember that not everything the school does is to "punish" you, so to speak. They are also concerned with protecting other students who may feel threatened. These kinds of issues are taken VERY seriously nowadays.

You seem to harbor significant animosity for the admin. Maybe it's totally justified, I don't know. Do you feel that you're ready to return to law school?
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 18, 2015, 12:59:50 PM
I don't want anything to do with my original school.  I just want to quietly finish my degree elsewhere. I want to visit away at a local school for my 3L year so that I could complete my degree while complying with my treatment.  I do feel that I am mentally ready to return, and that is what matters most. 

I think it best that I not contact the admin people because they might feel harassed if I do so (as opposed to my parents, treatment providers, etc).  I don't want to heckle them any further.  I'm walking on thin ice at the moment. 

It's entirely different if the school ASKS to meet with me in person.  I am willing to do that if requested.  But when it comes to unsolicited contact, it's best to leave that to parents/treatment providers, or else I will be accused of harassment again. 
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on May 18, 2015, 05:58:57 PM
I can understand that.

So, if I understand correctly, you would have to be readmitted to your old law school then you can apply to do your last year as a visiting student somewhere else.

If that's the case, I wonder if you could let them know right off the bat that you're planning on finishing somewhere else. That might make the admin a little less skittish. Maybe that was the idea your parents were going to talk to them about?

On the other hand, the admin may be concerned that if they readmit you and you don't get into another school, then they'll have to take you back. I wonder if you could somehow negotiate a conditional admission, solely for the purposes of trying to get visiting student status at another school?

Also, (I'm not trying to be negative here, but this is a major issue) are you sure that you can actually get into another school as a visiting student with the disciplinary action on your record? You might want to look into that before starting the whole readmission process.
 
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 19, 2015, 07:03:46 AM
I have to be readmitted to my old school before I can apply as a visiting student at the local schools.  I first have to be cleared by University Counseling Services, then by the Academic Standards Committee.

My dad is going to email the school psychologist and the dean in the first week of June requesting that I be readmitted in mid-July (so I can meet the August 1 deadline for the local schools)
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: Citylaw on May 19, 2015, 10:27:49 AM
I really wouldn't have your Dad handle this.

In all honesty, if you want to be an attorney it is a big responsibility and a lot of b.s. that isn't even your fault will be placed on you. Your dad should not be handling your affairs if you are a year or so away from being an attorney. Having a license to practice law is a big responsibility and when shi* is not going your way in a case etc you can't have your Dad call.

For some reading your story it honestly sounds like you have some growing up to do. It may be the illness that is causing the problem, but as a licensed attorney you can't make excuses. If you fail to perform competent legal services due to illness, etc you can be sued for malpractice and or suspended/disbarred. Law school is not a master's in religious studies it is a gateway to some real sh**.

Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 19, 2015, 11:08:23 AM
I really wouldn't have your Dad handle this.

In all honesty, if you want to be an attorney it is a big responsibility and a lot of b.s. that isn't even your fault will be placed on you. Your dad should not be handling your affairs if you are a year or so away from being an attorney. Having a license to practice law is a big responsibility and when shi* is not going your way in a case etc you can't have your Dad call.

For some reading your story it honestly sounds like you have some growing up to do. It may be the illness that is causing the problem, but as a licensed attorney you can't make excuses. If you fail to perform competent legal services due to illness, etc you can be sued for malpractice and or suspended/disbarred. Law school is not a master's in religious studies it is a gateway to some real sh**.

If I contact the school, I will be slapped with harassment charges, and possibly get arrested.  Do you think that a criminal record is a better outcome than having my parents/treatment providers do most of the communicating with the school administration regarding my readmission?  I'm walking on thin ice right now.  Contacting the school on my own is a very, very bad idea.   I don't know why this isn't obvious to you. 
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: loki13 on May 19, 2015, 11:26:40 AM
"If I contact the school, I will be slapped with harassment charges, and possibly get arrested."

Um..... huh? If you send a professional letter stating that you have complied with their terms, and are seeking re-admission, then nothing bad will happen. I don't know why this is hard for you to understand. Yes, it sounds (from your very brief early description) like you did some bad things, and burned a lot of bridges. But remember- you are applying for readmission so that you can go back to law school, by showing that you are able to handle things. Not your parents.

If you are unable or unwilling to do the bare minimum necessary to get re-admitted, and would rather have your parents do those things for you, that's a choice. And you're welcome to make it. You've now heard from three practicing attorneys who have said, in various degrees of bluntness, that it would be preferable for you to take these actions- both for your own immediate chances of readmission, as well as your future prospects (vis-a-vis the bar and practicing as an attorney). If you think you would be unable to professionally communicate with the administration of your school, then perhaps you might need more than a semester off. And that's fine!

Regardless of the choice you make, I hope it works out well for you.
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 19, 2015, 12:00:26 PM
If I contact them, even politely, they will accuse me of harassment and file criminal charges against me.  Believe me, it's that serious.  I am walking on thin ice.  I can't afford to have any more blemishes on my C&F record.  Therefore, best to have a third party (treatment provider, parent) intervene on my behalf. 
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: loki13 on May 19, 2015, 12:18:12 PM
opal,

I will try and explain this to you nicely. There is no monolithic "they." I have worked with my law school's administration. It is made up of people. Not "they." Real people.

So, building from that, either you have an actual, court-imposed injunction against you (which you claim you didn't), or you don't. If you don't, then you can contact the administration, which you would have to be able to do anyway in order to get re-admitted. You noted that you aren't allowed back on campus pursuant to an agreement- that's what letters are for. There's also phone calls and emails- but you might prefer the letter option first, since you can write everything out and have someone look at it.

If you can't trust yourself to be civil and professional, it's too soon. But there is no such thing as "harassment and ... criminal charges" for someone contacting the school to apply for re-admission. Unless there's a whole heck of a lot that you didn't say (but then ... that would also impact all the question you were asking, so why bother?).

If you don't want to do this yourself, don't. But don't think that this doesn't reflect badly on you, and that decision makers won't consider it, you're fooling yourself. I will point out, one last time, that you asked for advice, and three different people (attorneys) noted this. Again, if you have your own attorney IRL, ask them! Maximize your chance for success.

Anyway, I'll sign off here. Good luck.
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on May 19, 2015, 12:36:02 PM
If I contact them, even politely, they will accuse me of harassment and file criminal charges against me.  Believe me, it's that serious.  I am walking on thin ice.  I can't afford to have any more blemishes on my C&F record.  Therefore, best to have a third party (treatment provider, parent) intervene on my behalf.

I can understand your concerns. If things were left on such a bad note that ANY contact is likely to be interpreted as threatening, then having a third party mediator is not a bad idea. 

Typically it would be difficult for a school to claim harassment simply because someone is seeking to access an approved path to readmission after complying with the terms of their medical leave. (Assuming the communications were cordial and appropriate). I think this is sort of what Loki was referencing. If there was a TRO, RO, no contact order, etc, then that's a different story.

If your situation is so tense that even cordial contact for the purposes of readmission is going to result in someone calling the police, then I think you have an uphill battle regardless.

I really do wish you the best of luck. It may be that your school simply wants more time to pass without incident since the last episode was only a year ago.
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 19, 2015, 12:50:39 PM
opal,

I will try and explain this to you nicely. There is no monolithic "they." I have worked with my law school's administration. It is made up of people. Not "they." Real people.

So, building from that, either you have an actual, court-imposed injunction against you (which you claim you didn't), or you don't. If you don't, then you can contact the administration, which you would have to be able to do anyway in order to get re-admitted. You noted that you aren't allowed back on campus pursuant to an agreement- that's what letters are for. There's also phone calls and emails- but you might prefer the letter option first, since you can write everything out and have someone look at it.

If you can't trust yourself to be civil and professional, it's too soon. But there is no such thing as "harassment and ... criminal charges" for someone contacting the school to apply for re-admission. Unless there's a whole heck of a lot that you didn't say (but then ... that would also impact all the question you were asking, so why bother?).

If you don't want to do this yourself, don't. But don't think that this doesn't reflect badly on you, and that decision makers won't consider it, you're fooling yourself. I will point out, one last time, that you asked for advice, and three different people (attorneys) noted this. Again, if you have your own attorney IRL, ask them! Maximize your chance for success.

Anyway, I'll sign off here. Good luck.

I trust myself to be civil and professional.  I don't trust the school administration to be likewise, however.  I know their power and I am f-ing terrified of them.  They have the power to destroy my career in an instant.  They will perceive ANY contact from me, no matter how polite and meek, as threatening and harassing.  I can't afford any more C&F blemishes at this point.   
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: Citylaw on May 19, 2015, 01:25:30 PM
Blaming everyone else is not the best course of action.

They don't actually have the power to press charges I suppose they could seek a TRO, but I find it very unlikely they would do that and even if they did a school being contacted by a student would probably not be successful.

A law school is not a D.A's office it cannot impose a criminal charge on you.

If you want to say the school is out to get you and blame them for everything that is your choice. If they have really done horrible things to you and handled everything terribly then you could hire your own attorney, but I imagine you had issues. Things went bad maybe the school could have handled the situation better, but at the end of the day an attorney is accountable for their own actions.

I have had numerous assistant and secretaries make mistake and not handle things correctly, but as an attorney it's my job to take responsibility for their actions.

Clients lie to you and opposing counsel will try to put you in a bad situation. This is not a profession for someone that wants to say my shortcomings are X's person or entities fault.

When your in the actual practice of law you are accountable for everything. When you represent a client it is not the Judge's fault, opposing counsel, your secretary blah blah. Bad sh*t some of it out of your control and no fault of your own will happen, but it is on you to deal with it.

Again, if your up to that then pursue a masters in religious studies or something. This is not a profession for passing the buck.

I am trying to be honest with to save you time, money and frustration.  If personal accountability even when it isn't your fault  is something you can't handle find another profession. If it is something you can handle then I wish you the best of luck.


Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 19, 2015, 02:35:05 PM
Blaming everyone else is not the best course of action.

They don't actually have the power to press charges I suppose they could seek a TRO, but I find it very unlikely they would do that and even if they did a school being contacted by a student would probably not be successful.

A law school is not a D.A's office it cannot impose a criminal charge on you.

If you want to say the school is out to get you and blame them for everything that is your choice. If they have really done horrible things to you and handled everything terribly then you could hire your own attorney, but I imagine you had issues. Things went bad maybe the school could have handled the situation better, but at the end of the day an attorney is accountable for their own actions.

I have had numerous assistant and secretaries make mistake and not handle things correctly, but as an attorney it's my job to take responsibility for their actions.

Clients lie to you and opposing counsel will try to put you in a bad situation. This is not a profession for someone that wants to say my shortcomings are X's person or entities fault.

When your in the actual practice of law you are accountable for everything. When you represent a client it is not the Judge's fault, opposing counsel, your secretary blah blah. Bad sh*t some of it out of your control and no fault of your own will happen, but it is on you to deal with it.

Again, if your up to that then pursue a masters in religious studies or something. This is not a profession for passing the buck.

I am trying to be honest with to save you time, money and frustration.  If personal accountability even when it isn't your fault  is something you can't handle find another profession. If it is something you can handle then I wish you the best of luck.

Do you really think I should email the school administration and risk having a criminal record as a result?  What drugs are you on? No matter how polite and cordial I'll be, they will construe contact of ANY kind to = harassment.  I know the school admin better than you do. That's why it's best to leave the communicating to third parties--treatment providers, parents, etc.   

What makes you think that I am not taking responsibility for my actions? Although my past disruptive behaviors directly stem from my then-untreated bipolar disorder, I accept 100% responsibility for my actions and harbor no malice and ill will toward those who disclosed the misconduct or initiated proceedings against me.  I wholly deserved what I got.  My bipolar disorder does not in any way excuse my misconduct.  I feel a great deal of remorse and shame for my abhorrent, intemperate behavior.  Not a day goes by that I don’t regret my past transgressions—at times I can hardly look at myself in the mirror.  As mentioned earlier, I am currently under aggressive treatment by a psychiatrist, psychotherapist, and support group, all of whom are assisting me in coping successfully with bipolar disorder and addressing the underlying causes of the behavior that led to the disciplinary sanctions at law school.  In addition, to further rehabilitate myself, I have made productive use of my time for the benefit of society through volunteering at legal aid agencies serving indigent clients. 
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 19, 2015, 02:50:27 PM
Any feedback would be greatly appreciated on this C&F addendum. Addendum is for applying as a visiting student for my third year of law school.

_____________________________ _____________________________ ___

Before I begin, I would like for you to know that I formally requested disciplinary records from [Law School] in order to aid me in fully and accurately writing this disclosure to you. [Name of Dean], the Associate Dean for Student Conduct, however, has outright refused to send me the documentation that I required. Therefore, this account is solely based on my memory of the events as they transpired. Any mentions of dates are mere approximations, as my recollection what occurred is somewhat hazy given the fact that I was under the influence of untreated mental illness at the time. As follows is an account of my regrettable disciplinary history at [Law School].

In fall 2013, I suffered a manic episode. As a result of the disruptive behaviors I exhibited during my episode, I was placed on University Probation. In addition, the aggrieved individuals lodged a University Stay Away Order against me. The University Probation was lifted sometime in May 2014. The University Stay Away Order has since been lifted for all but two individuals.

In fall 2014, I suffered another manic episode. As a result of the disruptive behaviors I exhibited during my episode, [Law School] charged me with disorderly conduct, community disturbance, failure to comply, and property damage. In addition, while the investigation was pending, I was placed on Interim Suspension. Subsequently, I was given the option of withdrawing voluntarily for medical reasons in lieu of going through the student conduct process and receiving a sanction. I chose to withdraw.

During the intervening period, I have received intensive treatment for my recently diagnosed bipolar disorder. Until December 2014, I received regular individual psychotherapy from Julie P., LPC. In February 2015, I received individual psychotherapy from Ann P., LCSW MSW. From March 2015 to the present I have received individual psychotherapy from Ruth D., MGPGP, whom I see on a weekly basis for sessions of up to two hours. Furthermore, until January 2015 I was under the care of a psychiatrist, Dr. Ketankumar P., MD. He prescribed me 40 milligrams of Latuda, an atypical antipsychotic and a mood-stabilizer, to treat my bipolar disorder. From February 2015 to the present I have been under the care of another psychiatrist, Dr. Stephan M., MD, whom I see once a month. He increased my dose of Latuda from 40 milligrams to 80 milligrams to fully ensure that no further manic episodes would disrupt my life and daily functioning. In addition to the individual psychotherapy and the psychiatric care, I also am an active participant in [Support Group] for people diagnosed with bipolar disorder, depression, and their loved ones. I attend [Support Group] meetings on a weekly basis and have taken on a leadership role in the organization, planning initiatives and events for the group that help empower individuals with mood disorders to lead productive lives. I am now doing very stably with a combination of daily medication and weekly individual/group psychotherapy, and my treatment providers wholeheartedly can attest to that.

Although my past disruptive behaviors directly stem from my then-untreated bipolar disorder, I accept 100% responsibility for my actions and harbor no malice and ill will toward those who disclosed the misconduct or initiated proceedings against me. I wholly deserved what I got. My bipolar disorder does not in any way excuse my misconduct. I feel a great deal of remorse and shame for my abhorrent, intemperate behavior. Not a day goes by that I don’t regret my past transgressions—at times I can hardly look at myself in the mirror. As mentioned earlier, I am currently under aggressive treatment by a psychiatrist, psychotherapist, and support group, all of whom are assisting me in coping successfully with bipolar disorder and addressing the underlying causes of the behavior that led to the disciplinary sanctions at [Law School]. In addition, to further rehabilitate myself, I have made productive use of my time for the benefit of society through volunteering at legal aid agencies serving indigent clients in [State]. In spring 2015, I volunteered for the [Organization], a non-profit affiliated with [School]. The [Organization] works to secure exonerations for wrongfully convicted inmates. As a Stage 2 case screener, I was responsible for determining whether inmates’ cases involved plausible claims of innocence and gauging whether there may be avenues for obtaining new exculpatory evidence through examining inmates’ questionnaires, docket sheets and appellate records. In addition, I wrote evaluative memoranda assessing whether inmates’ cases presented plausible claims of factual innocence. Starting June 1, 2015, I will be volunteering full-time at [Organization], a non-profit public interest organization dedicated to meeting the legal and advocacy needs of homeless individuals and families in [City]. As a volunteer, I will assist [Organization's] staff attorneys in conducting legal clinics in shelters and soup kitchens throughout the city of [City]. If I were accepted to a [City]-area school as a visiting student for my final year of law school, I hope to continue serving [Organization] on a part-time basis while taking classes. As you can tell from my other personal statements, I passionately desire to work in a career in the public interest. Many of the indigent clients served by {City's] legal aid agencies have suffered from debilitating mental illness—who better to represent them than a future lawyer who overcame her own mental health issues to became a success?
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: Citylaw on May 19, 2015, 03:00:48 PM
From your prior statements that you trust yourself to be civil etc, but not the school. However, if you can take personal accountability then great.

I hope you succeed and if you take responsibility for whatever happened then good things will likely occur.  However, it does sound like you are working on quite a few issues and perhaps taking a year off or so from school to get all your ducks in a row might be worth it.

The bar exam makes plenty of people that are not pretty disposed for psychological issues snap. Law school is not going anywhere and if you are in aggressive psychology treatment why not finish that first? Just my two cents as an anonymous internet poster.

Again, I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors, but this is not a great profession for individuals with major mental health disorders. I sincerely, hope you prove me wrong, pass the bar and have an awesome career in public service.

However, just be careful these incidents sound very, very serious and if I was you, which I am not I might consider taking a year or two off from school.
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 19, 2015, 03:22:39 PM
From your prior statements that you trust yourself to be civil etc, but not the school. However, if you can take personal accountability then great.

I hope you succeed and if you take responsibility for whatever happened then good things will likely occur.  However, it does sound like you are working on quite a few issues and perhaps taking a year off or so from school to get all your ducks in a row might be worth it.

The bar exam makes plenty of people that are not pretty disposed for psychological issues snap. Law school is not going anywhere and if you are in aggressive psychology treatment why not finish that first? Just my two cents as an anonymous internet poster.

Again, I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors, but this is not a great profession for individuals with major mental health disorders. I sincerely, hope you prove me wrong, pass the bar and have an awesome career in public service.

However, just be careful these incidents sound very, very serious and if I was you, which I am not I might consider taking a year or two off from school.

I am already taking an entire year off from law school.  (2014-2015)  I can't take any more time off because ABA rules require you to finish your JD in a set # of years. 

You don't "complete" mental health treatment.  Treatment is ongoing. Ergo, I can't wait until I "complete" my treatment, because that is a lifelong thing.

How was the addendum?  Too long perhaps?
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: loki13 on May 19, 2015, 04:00:42 PM
Opal-

First, you have six years to complete your JD. That means that you can take up to three years off. So (no offense, but) that's a dodge. Also? Starting a year (the fall) and not being able to complete is not the same as taking an entire year off.

I would be somewhat concerned given your statement. From what I see, you have one physician giving you 40mg of Latuda, then another, no earlier than February of this year, increasing it to 80mg- not exactly a hallmark of stability and time given your history. As a total aside, I help with, well, some mental health things in my jurisdiction, and I am a little shocked that they are giving you Latuda (alone) for the mania. They usually prescribe it in conjunction with another medication (or medications) and many people, over a period of time, find that it triggers mania or hypomania. But everyone is different, and if it's working for you, that's what matters.

Regarding your statement, it is way too defensive. The first paragraph (I can feel the hostility!) and the beginning of the fourth (the part with the mirror). Dude- just lay out the facts - and you realize you don't really lay them out, right? Accept responsibility, state your remedial action (taking care of your illness), and move forward.

Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 19, 2015, 04:15:42 PM
Opal-

First, you have six years to complete your JD. That means that you can take up to three years off. So (no offense, but) that's a dodge. Also? Starting a year (the fall) and not being able to complete is not the same as taking an entire year off.

I would be somewhat concerned given your statement. From what I see, you have one physician giving you 40mg of Latuda, then another, no earlier than February of this year, increasing it to 80mg- not exactly a hallmark of stability and time given your history. As a total aside, I help with, well, some mental health things in my jurisdiction, and I am a little shocked that they are giving you Latuda (alone) for the mania. They usually prescribe it in conjunction with another medication (or medications) and many people, over a period of time, find that it triggers mania or hypomania. But everyone is different, and if it's working for you, that's what matters.

Regarding your statement, it is way too defensive. The first paragraph (I can feel the hostility!) and the beginning of the fourth (the part with the mirror). Dude- just lay out the facts - and you realize you don't really lay them out, right? Accept responsibility, state your remedial action (taking care of your illness), and move forward.

How is my essay hostile?  I fully accept responsibility and state my remedial action in great detail (psychiatrist, psychotherapist, support group, volunteering, etc.)

I can't take more time off because then I'll have an unacceptably large gap on my resume that employers will look askance at.  I really want to finish my JD as quickly as possible and move on with my life.  Taking extra time off and deferring my career goals will just cause my mental health to deteriorate. It is in the best interest of my mental health to not be idle anymore.   
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: Citylaw on May 19, 2015, 05:20:06 PM
I also think you might want to sum up your statement.

Really the facts are that due to mental health issues a series of unfortunate events occurred that you take full responsibility for. You are currently under psychiatric care from several mental health professionals and doing much better. Due to the incidents that occurred at X school you believe it is best that you and X school part ways. However, you want to pursue your dream of becoming an attorney and would like the appropriate paperwork/etc from X school to assist with a transfer. You apologize for the situation and wish things could have turned out differently, but your mental health issues created an unfortunate situation, but now that you have it under your control you would like the school's assistance with transferring.

It really doesn't need to be four paragraphs long.

Bad things occurred and mistakes were made. Ask for what you want, which is the ability to transfer schools and be over apologetic to the school. Even if you don't mean it and the school screwed everything up, just get what you need from them move on do well in the legal profession.

Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 19, 2015, 08:03:45 PM
I also think you might want to sum up your statement.

Really the facts are that due to mental health issues a series of unfortunate events occurred that you take full responsibility for. You are currently under psychiatric care from several mental health professionals and doing much better. Due to the incidents that occurred at X school you believe it is best that you and X school part ways. However, you want to pursue your dream of becoming an attorney and would like the appropriate paperwork/etc from X school to assist with a transfer. You apologize for the situation and wish things could have turned out differently, but your mental health issues created an unfortunate situation, but now that you have it under your control you would like the school's assistance with transferring.

It really doesn't need to be four paragraphs long.

Bad things occurred and mistakes were made. Ask for what you want, which is the ability to transfer schools and be over apologetic to the school. Even if you don't mean it and the school screwed everything up, just get what you need from them move on do well in the legal profession.

Thanks. Should I submit a letter of recommendation to the local schools from my psychotherapist?
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on May 20, 2015, 09:48:07 AM
Some notes on the addendum:

Paragraph 1:
I'd delete it. Loki is correct, it sounds hostile. I know that you disagree, but as an outsider looking in it sounds hostile. It sounds like there is an ongoing argument with your old school, and that's not what you want to lead with.

Paragraphs 2 & 3:
These are OK. They may ask for specific details.

Paragraph 4:
Way too long. This needs to be more concise. The info about support groups etc is repeated in P5, so I would shorten this by focusing on medical treatment.

Paragraph 5:
Too long, but you're on the right track with summing it all up and focusing on the positive steps you've taken.

Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 20, 2015, 09:53:33 AM
I need the first para in order to express why the second para is so general/vague.  If I had the educational records the account would be more detailed, but I don't because the dean refused to send them to me. 

The support group is part of the medical treatment, so I have to include it in the paragraph about treatment. 
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on May 20, 2015, 11:44:40 AM
Ok. It's your application, do as you please.

Keep this in mind throughout the readmission/application process:
You are asking for a favor. In fact, you're asking for a pretty damn big favor that no one is obligated to provide. Your language and actions should always reflect that you are aware of this.

The admissions people at the new law school are going to be skeptical of any application involving disciplinary issues. Given the unusual circumstances of your case, any indication of hostility or ongoing problems is likely to seem amplified. Trust me, they don't want to hear you blame your old school for anything.

I'm not sure that you understand that some of verbage you use comes off as defensive, even though it may be unintended. You've asked for and received objective feedback by non-interested parties. If you want to take it to heart, great. If not, that's cool too. 
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 20, 2015, 11:59:56 AM
What in my essay comes across as defensive?  I clearly express remorse and shame over my past misconduct. 
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: Citylaw on May 20, 2015, 12:55:14 PM
Before I begin, I would like for you to know that I formally requested disciplinary records from [Law School] in order to aid me in fully and accurately writing this disclosure to you. [Name of Dean], the Associate Dean for Student Conduct, however, has outright refused to send me the documentation that I required. Therefore, this account is solely based on my memory of the events as they transpired. Any mentions of dates are mere approximations, as my recollection what occurred is somewhat hazy given the fact that I was under the influence of untreated mental illness at the time. As follows is an account of my regrettable disciplinary history at [Law School].

The first two sentences bolded and underlined are extremely defensive and hostile.  You are saying they didn't do things for you, but you were the one that caused the issues. Considering your mental health is already in question it is very possible you may not even requested the documents. As Maintain says you are asking for a favor attacking someone that you are asking for a favor from is generally not a good idea.
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 20, 2015, 01:50:49 PM
I'm not "attacking" anyone.  I'm just saying the facts:  I formally requested educational records, and the request was denied.  How else am I going to express that?
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: Citylaw on May 20, 2015, 02:47:59 PM
There all kinds of facts that could be brought up, but there is a difference between bringing up relevant facts and irrelevant and keeping your ultimate goal in mind.

All you want of this whole interaction is their blessing to transfer schools and the appropriate paperwork. Focus on getting that done. What they did or didn't do doesn't matter.

You want to keep this as simple as possible not make it complicated. Why do they need to know every fact, detail etc?

Basically all you need to do is say due to my mental health issues, which I am receiving treatment for a series of unfortunate events occurred. As a result of these instances I understand continuing my education at X school is not possible. However, now that I am on a road to recovery I want to pursue my dream of becoming an attorney at a different school. I would appreciate the support of the school to provide any paperwork necessary to assist in my transfer.

Thanks for your time and I look forward to putting these issues behind me.

A four paragraph dissertation about every detail won't help anything. Try to keep it as simple as possible and keep your goal in mind.

All you want is to transfer schools and you need your current school's help. Do not get into any fact disputes etc just get your paperwork.

This is a good quote to live by, "Any fool can complicate things, but it takes a genius to simplify them."

Be smart and keep this request as simple as possible.



Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 20, 2015, 02:56:20 PM
Thanks, I am trying to strike a balance between brevity and full disclosure. 

Re: transferring, I have too many credits to transfer.  What I am trying to do is become a visiting student at a local law school.  Visiting means that you take classes at another school but get your degree from your original school. 
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: Citylaw on May 20, 2015, 05:49:49 PM
Ok explain that in detail. When drafting these letters be sure to explain what it is you want.

You have had a bunch of statements about medications, records, etc, but I was unclear that was your ultimate goal. Getting your ultimate goal across is the number #1 priority.

You may also see if it is possible to transfer without graduating from your school. It is a step backwards, but it that is another way to get you to your ultimate goal of a J.D.

Don't get lost in the muck your goal is to graduate from law school end of story. There are three ways to accomplish that. (1) Restart at your current school and graduate, but this seems highly unlikely; (2) Be a visiting student at X school and graduate from your current school; (3) Transfer to a new school and lose credits.

Figure out the best way to get one of those three paths and leave the other stuff out of it. Your current dosage, your school not turning over records you requested, the names of your therapists, the details of the events that led to your suspension are not relevant to achieving your ultimate goal so don't bring them up.
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 21, 2015, 08:27:17 AM
Ok explain that in detail. When drafting these letters be sure to explain what it is you want.

You have had a bunch of statements about medications, records, etc, but I was unclear that was your ultimate goal. Getting your ultimate goal across is the number #1 priority.

You may also see if it is possible to transfer without graduating from your school. It is a step backwards, but it that is another way to get you to your ultimate goal of a J.D.

Don't get lost in the muck your goal is to graduate from law school end of story. There are three ways to accomplish that. (1) Restart at your current school and graduate, but this seems highly unlikely; (2) Be a visiting student at X school and graduate from your current school; (3) Transfer to a new school and lose credits.

Figure out the best way to get one of those three paths and leave the other stuff out of it. Your current dosage, your school not turning over records you requested, the names of your therapists, the details of the events that led to your suspension are not relevant to achieving your ultimate goal so don't bring them up.

I have to disclose the details of the events that led to my interim suspension.  The question on the application states: 
"Were you ever dropped, suspended, expelled, warned, placed on probation, or subject to any disciplinary action or charges at
any educational institution you attended? If the answer is yes, please detail the exact nature of the action and the dates on a
separate page or electronic attachment and enclose with your application."
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: Citylaw on May 21, 2015, 10:10:30 AM
Then ask for those dates in a separate letter and be as calm as possible.

Just simply say I would like to request my full student file so I can have the dates for my attempt to transfer as a visiting student. You don't need to say much more than that. If you go into accusatory language etc things don't go well.

So step 1 is get those dates and your student file. All that needs to happen is a simple request for your entire student file. You don't even need to go into specifics about what it is for. Keep it simple.
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 21, 2015, 10:21:41 AM
I already politely requested all my educational records, and the school outright refused to release them to me.  So my account is just based on my hazy recollection of what transpired. 
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: Citylaw on May 21, 2015, 10:28:37 AM
Ask again politely.

In the real legal world plenty of people forget things and gentle reminder never hurts.
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 21, 2015, 10:57:23 AM
A gentle reminder will hurt.  If I ask the school again I'll be slapped with criminal charges for harassment and possibly arrested.  Don't want to risk that and further reduce my chances of passing C&F. 

I know that under FERPA I am entitled to my educational records, but if I fight the school on this, I will infuriate them and not get readmitted. 
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: Citylaw on May 21, 2015, 11:28:56 AM
Ok. You will not be slapped with criminal charges as it is not a D.A's office, but if you want to make excuses that is your prerogative.

They will not press charges if you send an e-mail asking for your student file that you paid tuition for. 

If you want to write a pissed-off letter to the school, because your pissed off it is your life. If your ultimate goal is to actually continue your legal education then keep it simple and send an e-mail or call asking for your records.

Then work on an application to transfer or become a visiting student.

 

Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 21, 2015, 11:46:27 AM
I'm not making excuses.  I emailed and called the Dean's office politely numerous times back in February 2015 and the Dean outright refused to send me the records that I am entitled to and furthermore told me not to contact his office again.  No use in continuing to heckle the school I want to ask favors from.

Yes, the school is not a D.A.'s office, but what's stopping them from calling to police to come arrest me for harassment? My criminal record is currently clean as a whistle and I would like to keep it that way.  I don't want to risk any more harm to my C&F record, which is why I am communicating to them thru my parents/treatment providers.  I'm walking on very thin ice at the moment.  I don't think you fully grasp that.   
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on May 21, 2015, 11:50:41 AM
I already politely requested all my educational records, and the school outright refused to release them to me.

Is that the whole story? You sent a polite request for you records, and in flagrant violation of federal law the school refused to comply based on personal animosity? What did their response actually say?

Do you owe unpaid tuition?

Is there a restraining order in effect which requires third party contacts?

I get the feeling that there are some missing pieces here. If indeed the school refused to turn over your records based on nothing more than bad feelings, then you need to talk to a lawyer.

BTW, the school can't have you charged or arrested based on nothing more than a letter that says "I would like to request my transcripts." That's not harassment. They can call the police, who will determine whether or not a threat/harassment occurred. If the communication is nothing more than a letter requesting transcripts, I don't see how that could be reasonably interpreted as harassment UNLESS there is a restraining order in place or the police have already advised you not to contact the school. Is that the case?

At this point, I think you should talk to a lawyer. Perhaps they can make the request on your behalf.

 
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on May 21, 2015, 11:56:52 AM
I emailed and called the Dean's office politely numerous times back in February 2015 and the Dean outright refused to send me the records that I am entitled to and furthermore told me not to contact his office again.

"Numerous times."

The first time you requested your records, what did the Dean actually say? What reason did the Dean provide? I seriously doubt if no reason at all was provided. If the Dean provided a legitimate reason, then numerous subsequent contacts may have been considered harassing.
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: Citylaw on May 21, 2015, 12:04:52 PM
I also find it very unlikely a restraining order on e-mail was issued and if that is the case. You can certainly ask the court to request your records from the school.  That seems like a very easy request.

Believe it or not the school has bigger things to worry about and it is possible a request was made and they forgot to get to it, which is a mistake on their part. I buy that happening, but this entire institution set on denying you some paperwork for yourself? Unlikely, if that is the case then hire a lawyer.
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 21, 2015, 12:11:21 PM
No, there is no restraining order in place or unpaid tuition.  I made the requests via email and phone in February 2015 to several deans/administrators (since I wasn't sure who exactly was responsible for maintaining the records) and the Associate Dean of Student Conduct angrily emailed me back saying that he won't release the pertinent documentation to me.  He did not give a reason why, but told me not to contact his office again.  So in the interest of not rocking the boat, I have not been in touch with him since February 2015. 

I will need the records to submit to the state bar when I apply for C&F.  No pressing need for them right now.  My attorney (the firm that's charging me a $3,500 flat fee) will help me obtain the disciplinary records that the school is withholding from me in flagrant violation of federal law.

On an unrelated note, should I have my psychotherapist submit a letter of recommendation to the local law schools?  Perhaps an assurance from her will assuage their fears about admitting someone with a "dangerous" history.     
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on May 21, 2015, 12:16:54 PM
Ok, it's good that you have a lawyer. Be completely honest with your lawyer and let them handle it.
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: Citylaw on May 21, 2015, 01:02:42 PM
Have your lawyer contact the school and get the records.

From your story and mental health issues at the time you may not have articulated your position as clearly as you think.

If your attorney makes a formal request for the documents and it is denied then you probably have a nice lawsuit on your hands, but I imagine they will just hand it over.
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 21, 2015, 01:31:17 PM
My parents advised me not to bring a lawyer into the picture at this juncture, although I initially wanted to.  It will make me look adversarial/hostile towards the school, which is not good if I am asking for favors from the school.  If I threaten them with lawsuits, they are definitely not taking me back!  To get what I want (i.e. finish my degree), I have to act as meek as possible and not rock the boat.   

When applying for C&F, I will definitely have my attorney help me obtain the necessary educational records that I am entitled to under FERPA.   Right now is not the right time, esp. since the Dean explicitly told me not to contact him or anyone in his office. 
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on May 21, 2015, 02:53:54 PM
Don't you need the records in order to apply as a visiting student to another school?
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: Citylaw on May 21, 2015, 03:04:01 PM
If you want to be a lawyer I don't think your parents should be involved in the decision making process.

It seems like you have an excuse for every step.

You are saying these records are necessary to get to a new school.

The school however, is not giving you these records, because you are such a burden to them that they will not comply with the law.

You have an attorney that could get the records, but you don't want to use him/her.  Having a lawyer does not mean your going to sue they simply be your point of contact and record keeper.

This whole situation is very easy to resolve if you actually want it to be resolved.

However, you have to take an action not say why every proposed action won't work.

If you want to sit on the internet and say it is not fair it is your life, but if you actually want this to happen it is up to you to make it happen.

Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 21, 2015, 03:25:51 PM
Don't you need the records in order to apply as a visiting student to another school?

I don't need the records to apply as a visiting student to another school.  I need them for when I apply for the bar, which won't be for almost a year.  That's why I said it's premature to lawyer up. 

Yes, the school is violating my rights by denying me my records, but if I threaten them with a lawsuit, they will never let me back in.  Now is the time to play nice and meek, not adversarial. 
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: Citylaw on May 21, 2015, 04:18:13 PM
Hiring a lawyer does not automatically mean a lawsuit.

If you don't need the records to be a visiting student then why are you even discussing this.

Also, why not just get the records now?

I get the sense this is just a flame, but it is entertaining.
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 21, 2015, 04:25:24 PM
I don't need to get the records now.  My C&F attorney will help me get the records when it's time to apply for the Bar.  If I ask for the records now (on my own), I will be slapped with harassment charges and get arrested. 
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on May 21, 2015, 05:08:07 PM
Yeah, I call bull.
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 21, 2015, 05:35:41 PM
I assure you, I am a real person and this situation is actually happening to me, as outlandish as it is. 

Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: Citylaw on May 22, 2015, 11:47:10 AM
Well there are people two kinds of people in this world. The ones that make things complicated and the ones that don't.

This whole scenario sounds easily resolvable if it is in fact real, but you will not be the first law or the last law student/lawyer to overthink a simple matter.

If you are real I wish you the best of luck and hopefully you can find a way to simplify instead of complicate this matter. 
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 22, 2015, 01:33:02 PM
How am I complicating matters by waiting until the fall to get the educational records (with the help of my C&F attorney)?  If I try obtaining the records now by myself,  I will end up with a criminal record, no matter how polite and meek my request is.  As I said before, I'm better off letting third parties handle my readmission matter (parents, psychotherapist, psychiatrist, etc.)  Believe me, given my sordid history, the school will interpret ANY conduct as threatening/harassment. I don't trust them to be reasonable.   
Title: Re: Disciplinary Action in Law School--C&F?
Post by: opal on May 24, 2015, 06:16:03 PM
Final version, I think. Thanks for the feedback. I fleshed out the misconduct para and broke the narrative into multiple paras for easier reading

_____________________________ _____________________________ _____________________________ ________________________
Before I begin, I would like for you to know that I formally requested official disciplinary records from [School] in order to aid me in fully and accurately writing this disclosure to you. Mr. [Dean], the Associate Dean for Student Conduct, however, has outright refused to mail me the documentation that I required. Therefore, this account is solely based on my imperfect memory of the events as they transpired. Any mentions of dates are mere approximations, as my recollection of what occurred is quite hazy given the fact that I was under the influence of untreated mental illness at the time. As follows is a general account of my regrettable, sordid, and ignominious disciplinary history at [School].

In fall 2013, I suffered a manic episode. In my manic state, I harassed various community members through transmitting repeated aggressive, hostile, belligerent, and verbally abusive communications. As a result of the disruptive behaviors I exhibited during my manic episode, I was placed on University Probation. In addition, the aggrieved individuals lodged a University Stay Away Order against me. The University Probation was lifted sometime in spring 2014. The University Stay Away Order has since been lifted for all but two individuals. In fall 2014, I suffered another manic episode. In my manic state, I committed acts of vandalism and harassed various members of the community through transmitting repeated aggressive, hostile, belligerent, and verbally abusive communications. As a result of the disruptive behaviors I exhibited during my manic episode, [School] charged me with disorderly conduct, community disturbance, failure to comply, and property damage. Furthermore, the [School] Police trespassed me from campus. In addition, while the investigation was pending, I was placed on Interim Suspension. Subsequently, I was given the option of withdrawing voluntarily for medical reasons in lieu of going through the student conduct process and receiving a sanction. I chose to withdraw. I was given the option of reapplying for the fall 2015 semester under the condition that I undergo mental health treatment to address the underlying causes of my obvious poor impulse control. Although my misconduct was heinous, [School] had mercy on me and as a result I thankfully did not incur a criminal record.

During the intervening period, I have received intensive outpatient treatment for my recently diagnosed bipolar disorder. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “ipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out daily tasks. Symptoms of bipolar disorder can be severe. They are different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through from time to time. Bipolar disorder symptoms can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. But bipolar disorder can be treated, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives.” Until December 2014, I received frequent individual psychotherapy from Julie P., LPC at [Practice] in [City, State], who especially worked with me on anger management techniques that I have implemented into my daily life. Julie P., LPC retired at the end of 2014. In February 2015, I received weekly individual psychotherapy from Ann P, LCSW MSW at [Practice] in [City, State], who assisted me with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). From March 2015 to the present I have received individual psychotherapy from Ruth D., MGPGP, whom I see on a weekly basis at her private practice in [City, State] for sessions of up to two hours each. Ruth D., MGPGP, who herself suffered from bipolar disorder for 20 years, has provided me invaluable insight into the underlying causes behind the disruptive behaviors I exhibited while at [School]. Furthermore, until January 2015 I was under the regular care of a psychiatrist, Dr. Ketankumar P., M.D. at [Practice] in [City, State]. He prescribed me 40 milligrams of Latuda (lurasidone HCl), an atypical antipsychotic and a mood-stabilizer, to treat my bipolar disorder. In the beginning of 2015, Dr. Ketankumar P., M.D. went on a medical leave of absence. Accordingly, from February 2015 to the present I have been under the care of another psychiatrist, Dr. Stephan M., M.D., whom I see once a month at [Practice] in [City, State]. He increased my dose of Latuda from 40 milligrams to 80 milligrams to fully ensure that no further manic episodes would derail my life and daily functioning. In addition to the individual psychotherapy and the psychiatric care, I also am an active participant in [Support Group] for people diagnosed with bipolar disorder, depression, and their loved ones. I attend [Support Group] meetings on a weekly basis and have volunteered to take on a leadership role in the organization, planning initiatives and events for the group that help empower individuals with mood disorders to lead productive lives. For instance, I organized hikes, excursions, a yoga class, and a Zumba session for members of [Support Group]. I am now doing very stably thanks to a robust combination of daily medication, weekly individual/group psychotherapy, and monthly psychiatric visits. My treatment providers can wholeheartedly attest to that. Over the past year, I have been so single-mindedly dedicated to my mental health treatment that I declined to go on a family vacation to India, a family vacation to Florida, a family vacation to Ohio, and a friend’s wedding in California because I did not want to miss a single session of individual or group psychotherapy. Given my intensive outpatient mental health treatment, my past manic episodes are far behind me and highly unlikely to manifest themselves again. I am proud to say that I am firmly on the road to recovery. During my hiatus from law school, I took the March 2015 administration of the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) and received a 128, which is a passing score by a wide margin in every jurisdiction. This is further evidence that I am able to function at a high level despite my disability.

Although my past disruptive behaviors directly and proximately stemmed from my then-untreated bipolar disorder, I accept 100% responsibility for my actions and harbor no malice and ill will toward those who disclosed the misconduct or initiated proceedings against me. I wholly deserved what I got. My bipolar disorder does not in any way excuse my past misconduct. I feel a great deal of remorse for my abhorrent, intemperate behavior and apologize deeply to those that I have offended. Not a day goes by that I don’t regret my past transgressions—at times I am so ashamed that I can hardly look at myself in the mirror. As mentioned earlier, I am currently under aggressive treatment by a psychiatrist, psychotherapist, and support group, all of whom are assisting me in coping successfully with bipolar disorder and addressing the underlying causes of the disruptive behaviors that led to the disciplinary sanctions at [School].

In addition, to further rehabilitate myself, I have made productive use of my time for the benefit of society through volunteering at legal aid agencies serving indigent clients in [State]. In spring 2015, I volunteered for the [Organization 1], a non-profit affiliated with [School]. The [Organization 1] works to secure exonerations for wrongfully convicted inmates. As a Stage 2 case screener, I was responsible for determining whether inmates’ cases involved plausible claims of innocence and gauging whether there may be avenues for obtaining new exculpatory evidence through examining inmates’ questionnaires, docket sheets and appellate records. In addition, I wrote evaluative memoranda assessing whether inmates’ cases presented plausible claims of factual innocence. Starting June 1, 2015, I will be volunteering full-time at [Organization 2], a non-profit public interest organization dedicated to meeting the legal and advocacy needs of homeless individuals and families in [City]. As a volunteer, I will assist [Organization 2's] staff attorneys in conducting legal clinics in shelters and soup kitchens throughout the city of [City]. If I were admitted to a [City]-area school as a visiting student for my final year of law school, I hope to continue serving [Organization 2] on a part-time basis while taking classes and seamlessly continuing my treatment with the same mental health providers.

I would like to visit away at a [City]-area law school for the third year of my Juris Doctor program principally for medical reasons. I am unable to return to [School] because all of my treatment providers are located in the greater [City] region. If I were not accepted as a visiting student at a [City]-area law school, I would have no choice but to be forced to abandon my Juris Doctor program. I would be absolutely heartbroken if I lost out on my dream of becoming an attorney and zealously advocating for people with mental health disabilities. As you can tell from my other personal statements, I passionately desire to work in a career in the public interest. Many of the indigent clients served by [City's] legal aid agencies have suffered from debilitating mental illness—who better to represent them than a future lawyer who overcame her own mental health issues to became a success? As I have done everything I possibly can to atone for my past misconduct, I would appreciate it from the bottom of my heart if you would give me another chance. I deserve to be happy and successful despite my disability.