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Author Topic: Is law school a good idea with a General Under Honorable Discharge?  (Read 2967 times)

niederbomb

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I've been accepted to UT with large scholarship and MVP with a smaller one, basically, two top schools. 

However, I received a General Discharge Under Honorable Conditions from the U.S. Army for "misconduct" several years ago. I've requested all the records the government has on me, and nowhere does it mention the specific incident for which I was discharged, so I assume I have the freedom to spin it to employers, and so I won't talk about it here. 

This was an Administrative Discharge, meaning no Article 15 or Court Martial.  I've already talked to the bars in two of the states where I might want to practice law, and they don't think it will pose a problem there (since it's not an OTH).  But what about legal employers?  I'm sure they will care.  How bad will this hurt me at the firms that usually hire at UT and the T14? 

I'm asking because I also have a few "Canada options" to fall back on, too.  How can I find out prior to taking out massive loans if my past will be a significant impediment to legal employment? 

BikePilot

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Re: Is law school a good idea with a General Under Honorable Discharge?
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2011, 09:44:25 AM »
Talk to partners (ideally hiring partners) at firms that might interest you  - find some with military backgrounds, else they might not have a clue what you are on about :)  Hopefully you already know some partners or people who can give you an introduction. 

In general my guess is that as long as you can pass character and fitness with no problems the firm won't care in the least.
HLS 2010

niederbomb

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Re: Is law school a good idea with a General Under Honorable Discharge?
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2011, 09:58:08 AM »
What if I don't know anyone like this and live overseas? 

Is cold calling the firm and asking to talk to the hiring partner an option?  (Probably isn't something I'd want to do with the specific firms I'm interested in). 

MikePing

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Re: Is law school a good idea with a General Under Honorable Discharge?
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2011, 11:57:32 AM »
So long as it won't affect your ability to practice law, most firms won't care.  I wouldnt let it stop you.

Two great law schools and two licensing jurisdictions don't seem concerned.  Most employers will never even realize what the discharge means.  They will probably gloss over it on your resume. 

How long were you in the military? 

Duncanjp

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Re: Is law school a good idea with a General Under Honorable Discharge?
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2012, 04:35:41 PM »
I realize this is an old thread, but it's worth a revival to balance some of the information posted here.

I'm a veteran. When I first enrolled in law school, I had connected with the other vets in my class by the second week. We all quickly learned who the other vets were, what branch everyone served under, and what MOS (job specialty) everyone held. Wherever life takes a vet, he or she knows who the other vets are. If you did not receive an honorable discharge after your tour of duty, you are not only not in the clique, but you're likely to be ostracized by other vets if they find out you were kicked out. But you know that already. My career began with an interview in a field I knew nothing about. The interviewer had also done a tour in the military and we spent a full hour doing nothing but swapping stories about our time in the service. He hired me on the spot. But if my interviewer had learned that I received less than an honorable discharge, he would have stopped talking about the military immediately, and my interview would have ended on the note that several candidates were being considered. I never would have heard from him again.

You have to seriously F up to get kicked out of the military. This is true even if the discharge was for something fairly innocuous like being gay or getting caught with a little weed, for which they had almost no tolerance when I served. If the Army punts you from its ranks for something that didn't involve moral turpitude or a violent crime, then it was your judgment that failed you more than your conduct. To illustrate, soldiers who want to continue being soldiers do not smoke weed on base or have sex in the barracks with each other. It's too risky. That said, those who in the past were given a general discharge for being gay probably have nothing to worry about, other than the homophobia that they might face anywhere. Attitudes have changed. But you'd almost have to walk in the door announcing your sexual preference in order to overcome the blemish of a general discharge. If the discharge was for any other reason except medical, you'll have provide details that are probably very regrettable.

If your interviewer never served, you may be able to conceal your service record. But if your interviewer ever served in any branch, you'll have a difficult hurdle to get over. And given the legal field's interest in an attorney's background, it'll probably be a tough thing to conceal without lying, even if the interviewer never served. Fortunately for you, most people do not serve in the military, so the failure to connect as fellow vets may not matter with every firm that gives you an interview. But a general discharge will matter to some of them, and it will absolutely matter if the firm is run by a veteran. 

cooley3L

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Re: Is law school a good idea with a General Under Honorable Discharge?
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2012, 05:15:23 PM »
What if I don't know anyone like this and live overseas? 

Is cold calling the firm and asking to talk to the hiring partner an option?  (Probably isn't something I'd want to do with the specific firms I'm interested in).
If you live overseas do you plan to keep living overseas? If so, why the plan to attend American law school?

SoCalLawGuy

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Re: Is law school a good idea with a General Under Honorable Discharge?
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2012, 03:03:18 AM »
Two great law schools and two licensing jurisdictions don't seem concerned.  Most employers will never even realize what the discharge means. 
Exactly what I thought. If two top schools are willing letting it go why would you worry about your future employer? If no one can tell you what the problem was back then it means it's not that important. I'm sure it won't affect your future job.

avarist

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Re: Is law school a good idea with a General Under Honorable Discharge?
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2012, 12:42:54 PM »
Two great law schools and two licensing jurisdictions don't seem concerned.  Most employers will never even realize what the discharge means. 
Exactly what I thought. If two top schools are willing letting it go why would you worry about your future employer? If no one can tell you what the problem was back then it means it's not that important. I'm sure it won't affect your future job.
I know that you want to reply to an and all posts (for whatever reason) but honestly whats up with the dead threads? (not to even mention you are giving advice as a 0L that has no grounds behind it to give. If  someone wanted a random guess they'd just shake a magic 8 ball)