Law School Discussion

employer requesting release of bar application, anyone heard of this?

I have a job offer that is contingent on my background check.  I don't have anything that I am worried about in a standard background check, however my bar application has one expunged misdemeanor.  I got a letter recently requesting that I release my bar application.  First of all, I am going to call the bar Monday and ask if they would even release it.  I have a suspicion that this might just be a test on the part of the employer to see whether you actually would release it.

Has anyone heard of this?  How common is it?

Personally, if I call on Monday and they say they do release the applications I am not going to sign the waiver.  I think it is bull, just on principle.  There is a chance I might still be cleared even if they do find out about it, but this really annoys me.  They can do a standard background check and find out about any convictions, they can do a drivers license check and find out about any traffic tickets, and they can do a credit check.  This is just overboard about the bar application; they simply do not need to know about every parking ticket I have ever had and every charge that went away.  The reason it annoys me the most is that I could have easily, easily, easily beaten this misdemeanor that is expunged.  There is no way there ever would have been a conviction.  But I did this expungment program thinking I could just make it go away forever.  Come to find out years later, I have to disclose it on a few law school applications.  Come to find out a year after that, I have to disclose it on my bar application.  Come to find out two years after that, my employer wants to know about it???  I might as well have a conviction on my record if I have to explain this damn thing all the time!!!

Re: employer requesting release of bar application, anyone heard of this?
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2007, 02:03:25 PM »
I'm a first-year student, so I've never applied for a legal position before.  However, I am a 30-something part-time evening student who has been out in the workforce in business consulting for a little over 10 years.  I've never had a job where I wasn't required to submit to an extensive background check of my criminal record, finances, sometimes drug testing.  The more money the job pays, and/or the more upscale the clientele being served, the more incentive employers have to cover their ass.

Your situation depends on what the misdemeanor was.  If you had a DUI/DWI, or something along those lines, then hell... just admit it.  If the Bar didn't find that it was a matter of moral turpitude that should bar you from practicing, then 99.99% of employers wouldn't have a problem with it either.  If it's something more serious to a professional environment, such as embezzling funds from a previous employer, then yeah... probably best that you feign moral outrage and look for a job offer from someone who does less due dilligence.

It all depends on what the alleged crime was, and how you got it expunged.  If it was truly a false arrest, or something along those lines, then why try to cover it up?  People will find out eventually, and that kind of thing will only hurt you if it looks like you're hiding something.  If it was something you really were guilty of, but got it expunged as part of a court agreement (rehab, counseling, etc), such that your good name was restored in the eyes of the law, then don't be so ashamed about that either.  However, if it's apparent that the misdemeanor was expunged solely because you had a well-connected lawyer, or you turned 18, or something like that... then it's hard to draw too much sympathy.  Catching a lucky break doesn't mean that you've completely dodged a bullet altogether, or even that you should.

Re: employer requesting release of bar application, anyone heard of this?
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2007, 03:12:36 PM »
I am not worried about an extensive background check, driving record check, drug test, credit check, polygraph, or psychoanalysis.  I just think its ridiculous that they want my bar application.  A bar application has every place I've ever lived, every period of unemployment, bankruptcy, divorce, parking tickets, expunged crimes, arrests that were never prosecuted, every bounced check, child support information, welfare information, traffic violations, school records, etc.  I just think its excessive, and that it could lead to a very uncomfortable working environment.  I mean, what if you had a divorce because your wife was cheating on you, and thats in your bar application?  Does your employer really need to know that?  What if when you had your first child you were a student and you were on welfare for 6 months?  That is freaking embarrassing.  Does your employer really need to know that?  These aren't relevant in my circumstance, but I'm just throwing them out there.

What I am really getting at is whether people have heard of this.  Do a lot of employers require you to release your bar app? 

Re: employer requesting release of bar application, anyone heard of this?
« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2007, 03:24:16 PM »
Stupid question:  have you called your Career Office and asked them about this?

They're probably better suited to give you sound advice on this subject.

Re: employer requesting release of bar application, anyone heard of this?
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2007, 03:39:55 PM »
1. Yeah talk to career services.

2. It doesn't sound that out-of-line to me as a matter of policy, to ask for your bar app. That's probably just their matter of principle. (And I don't think they're testing you --- well not yet at least  ;) )

The ACLU might object to this - but for most ppl in the business world, it's probably a hard sell to convice them businesses are violating ppl's privacy in these types of episodes, etc...