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Author Topic: General discharge from Army (misconduct)  (Read 3307 times)

niederbomb

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General discharge from Army (misconduct)
« on: September 06, 2010, 09:30:45 AM »
Last year, I received a general "under honorable conditions" discharge from the U.S. Army for breaking a unit regulation prohibiting soldiers from certain activities at "hostess" bars in Korea. My DD214 just says "reason for discharge: serious misconduct." However, I have no criminal record, and otherwise, my work and school records are good (I'm currently working at a nonprofit organization somewhere in China)

I want to go to law school, and with a LSDAS gpa (3.93) and LSAT score (172), what are my chances at the top schools? Most US law schools ask about military service and type of discharge received.

My other thought is to go to the University of Toronto JD program and maybe even immigrate to Canada. I didn't see any questions about "US military" service, and both my GPA and LSAT score trump their median.

Overreaction?

I'm afraid that even if I did go to a top U.S. school, graduate, get placed in a top firm, they would find out about my past and fire me when I disclose this information to the state Bar Association for the Character and Fitness exam.

Maybe my options are just better in Canada, given how easy it is to move there nowadays.

What about calling U.S. law firms and asking if this would be an issue?

haus

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Re: General discharge from Army (misconduct)
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2010, 10:36:39 AM »
niederbomb,

While I do not have experience in law school admissions, but in the government contracts that I have worked on all make a point of looking into military experience as part of the background checks (I am former enlisted USMC). Although my discharge was honorable, I have had more then a few co-workers who have reported having general discharges. It seems that very few people seem to get worked up on background checks until the discharge is specifically dishonorable.

As such I would anticipate that this bump in the road should not become an insurmountable obstacle in getting into a law school or passing scrutiny under Character and Fitness. I suspect that you will be asked about it during the application process, and if you are simply tell them the situation that you are dealing with, it is unlikely that you were actually convicted of anything or your discharge would be dishonorable, and it is so very easy for the military to get convections, so it is seems that whatever the allege against you was not well supported. The key is to avoid coming off as you are attempting to hide this information, if is asked about on an application, provide the requested information. If you are asked a follow up question, respond clearly and succinctly, do what you can to clearly answer questions without going into information that you have not been asked about. In many background type questioning, the big item that they are looking for is something in your past that you are embarrassed / bothered enough about that you would do stupid things in attempt to hide.

Happy Hunting,

niederbomb

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Re: General discharge from Army (misconduct)
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2010, 01:19:35 AM »
How's this for an addendum?

Resigned from the Armed Forces after receiving a letter of reprimand for fraternizing with employees of an off-limits Korean hostess bar while off duty. Although I was not convicted of breaking any laws, I resigned knowing that a letter of reprimand for breaking an Army security regulation would hinder the advancement of my career in the Service. I left "under honorable conditions" because my duty performance was excellent, and I received neither a court martial nor an Article 15.

I realize that even though I did not break the law, I made an imprudent mistake. I learned two invaluable lessons. First, if I ever again sign a contract to work for an employer which regulates the off-duty lives of its employees, I should be prepared to abide by those rules. Second, I should be more careful about my reputation to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. I have applied these two lessons in my current job, and I intend to apply them in my future career in law.

Or how about?

"Resigned from the service and departed 'under honorable conditions'" and leave it at that.

Hamilton

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Re: General discharge from Army (misconduct)
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2010, 09:30:16 AM »
Your stats should get you in a decent school.

Before you leave the country, I think it would be worth (1) talking to the state bar about it, (2) talking to the law school about it, and (3) MAYBE some lawyers you know.  This should only be an issue getting into LS and passing the bar.  I dont know how deep an employer will probe into the particulars of your discharge, so perhaps an opinion or 2 there would be useful.  They may say that they do not even look at that or might say that unless the reason was fraud or criminal activity, they do not care about some rule infraction that was not criminal... I do not know.  Also, 3 years of law school, exemplary performance, and perhaps some community service would go a long way toward erasing the stain and showing growth beyond the incident along the lines of your explanation of the incident.

Morten Lund

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Re: General discharge from Army (misconduct)
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2010, 07:32:00 PM »
I have a difficult time getting excited about your shameful past.  Everyone else on these boards seems to be a convicted felon with three DUIs and a history of plagiarism.

Seriously - as these things go, this is no big deal.  Sure, some stiff-backed vets might give you crap, but most people in hiring positions just won't care.  Your first addendum comes across as defensive, and still gives the impression that you are hiding something bad.  I would go with this one:

"Resigned from the service and departed 'under honorable conditions'" and leave it at that.

Then you can tell the Korean hostess story over drinks, where it will score you points instead of costing them.

Hamilton

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Re: General discharge from Army (misconduct)
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2010, 11:00:22 PM »
While I agree with this assessment that it is NBFD, there are very explicit questions on the bar app and maybe LS app that will require explanation.  Who knows how the sanctimonious hypocrites at the LS or bar will view the explanation.

I have a difficult time getting excited about your shameful past.  Everyone else on these boards seems to be a convicted felon with three DUIs and a history of plagiarism.

Seriously - as these things go, this is no big deal.  Sure, some stiff-backed vets might give you crap, but most people in hiring positions just won't care.  Your first addendum comes across as defensive, and still gives the impression that you are hiding something bad.  I would go with this one:

"Resigned from the service and departed 'under honorable conditions'" and leave it at that.

Then you can tell the Korean hostess story over drinks, where it will score you points instead of costing them.