Law School Discussion

In Need of Serious Help!

In Need of Serious Help!
« on: February 25, 2015, 02:12:35 PM »
Hey guys,

I am new to this site but really need some anonymous advice.  Here is my dilemma: I am a non-traditional law student in my 3rd year of law school.  When I was 18 years old, I went to my local community college for one semester but dropped out.  About a year later, I joined the military and did 4 years. When enlisting in the military, I didn't even put that college down when doing the paperwork.  From that point on, there was nothing to even suggest that I went to school there, and no paper trail whatsoever.  The only people who know I went there are the school and my parents.  To be completely honest, I only omitted that school when signing up for the military because I didn't want to deal with the hassle of getting the transcripts.  Fast forward to 4+ years later, and I had all but forgotten my 2 month experience in community college.  Once I got out of the military, I went to two different colleges and didn't even think to tell either of them about the community college.  I then completed my B.S. Sociology, applied to law school, listed the two schools I attended after the military, got accepted, and here I am in my third year of law school.  So, I just happened to be hanging out with a few of my law school buddies and we were talking about the bar exam.  They mentioned that if you were dishonest about anything on your law school application then its your ass.  Naturally, this got me paranoid so I started going back through my application to see if there was anything that I did wrong.  My stomach dropped when it hit me that the school I attended almost 13 years ago wasn't on my application.  I have not told anyone due to my paranoia, not even my friends (which is why I am on here).  I do not know what to do and am petrified that if I do come clean about my mistake, then I could even have my undergrad degree put into question.  I just would like to know what you guys would do in my situation.  My knee jerk reaction was to come clean, but I also realize that nobody but the school I attended 13 years ago knows I was there. Sorry about the long post, and thanks in advance. 

Re: In Need of Serious Help!
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2015, 08:30:32 AM »
This is not the worst thing it is understandable that a two month stint at a Junior College before the military could be forgotten.

I think your best bet is to speak with the admissions officer at your school and explain your situation. You may also need to inform your local state bar either now or when you apply for your moral character application.

I have seen worse stories and I remember freaking out about a similar situation and I think most law students and people for that matter forget various things about their lives and then when the state bar comes around asking every detail it is scary, but I do not think you are the first nor will you be the last two drop out of their local J.C.

When in doubt disclose and you should be fine. Good luck.

Re: In Need of Serious Help!
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2015, 09:00:22 AM »
As long as you weren't on academic probation or expelled or anything like that, you'll probably be fine. The bar is mostly concerned with people attempting to hide disciplinary actions or bad grades. A mistake like this will probably require an explanation and may slow down the moral character process, but you should probably be ok.

As Citylaw said, when in doubt disclose. It is imperative that you be 100% honest with the bar and your law school. If there is a discrepancy in your records, the bar will likely find it. It's much better that they hear it from you first. In these situations, an attempt to cover up is often worse than the infraction itself.   

Re: In Need of Serious Help!
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2015, 09:22:28 AM »
Perfect follow-up. If bar finds the discrepancy then the investigator will have to ask if you lied/covered up that what else are you covering up, but if you tell them what happened and it is a reasonable explanation then it should be fine.

If on the other hand you were arrested and in jail for a month, which then resulted in you having to drop out that seems like something you would remember, but if you were an 18 year old kid that was flaky at their local community college joined the military then forgot about 2 months when you were 18 it seems reasonable.


Re: In Need of Serious Help!
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2015, 11:56:15 PM »
I can't believe that your community college didn't keep transcripts.
Trust me, they are there.

Re: In Need of Serious Help!
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2015, 05:10:59 PM »
I would just add something to the prior responses.  The FIRST thing you should do, in my opinion and based upon my experience as a bar admission attorney in New York, is to notify your law school of the inadvertent omission from your application.  Do this in writing (in case you need the record later), but consider first making an in-person visit to your school's registrar or dean to break the news.  Tell them what happened -- be honest, be frank, and be CONTRITE ("I'm so sorry for my carelessness ...") -- and ask what you can do to make it right.  Ask about filing an amended application or a supplement to your existing application to disclose the community college information.  You will likely be asked to submit something in writing.  When preparing this writing (probably a letter to the registrar's office), keep in mind that this letter will be the single most important proof to any future character and fitness committee of your honesty, contrition, and good character.  Your letter should:  (1) memorialize that you have RECENTLY discovered an inadvertent omission from your law school application; (2) provide the relevant details of the community college, including any transcripts you are able to obtain -- and YES, by all means do your best to get every piece of paper the community college has with your name on it (best to know what is out there); (3) APOLOGIZE and THANK the law school for amending your application.  Express your contrition and remorse for your carelessness.  Take responsibility and don't attempt to minimize.  DO NOT call it a "MISTAKE."  Call it an "inadvertent omission" and a "regrettable error."

Assuming there was nothing nefarious underlying your failure to disclose (as discussed in the prior responses), chances are nobody at your law school will raise a stink about amending/correcting/supplementing your application.   

Once the correction/amendment/supplement is part of your law school application, you won't have anything to worry about in terms of your bar admission character and fitness review.  Disclose the community college as required on the application questionnaire form.  If the state you are applying to obtains a copy of your law school application, then the letter you sent should be part of the application package your law school provides.  More likely than not, nobody will raise an eyebrow.  If they do, just explain again what you already explained in your letter.  If for some reason they receive the law school application but not the letter, and they inquire, simply provide them with the letter (or call your law school and request that they send a copy of the letter to the character and fitness committee).

I hope this is helpful.  Good luck!