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Bar Admissions Blog

Helping Bar Applicants Prove Character and Fitness for Admission to the Bar

A former law professor who has lectured to thousands of bar candidates nationwide, Irwin Kramer has devoted a large part of his career to building the careers of law students, bar applicants and young lawyers. Taking a personal interest in the success of his clients, Irwin regularly assists applicants in responding to challenging items on character questionnaires, crafting key disclosures to avoid future problems, and advocating for their admission before character committees throughout Maryland and the District of Columbia. Full Profile

The Weight of Debt

Q. By questioning an applicant's credit ratings or level of debt, aren't licensing boards creating a "means test" that discriminates against less affluent JDs?

Character Interviews

Q. I'm really nervous. I'm scheduled for an interview before a member of the character committee. Is this common? Should I have a lawyer with me? How should I handle this?

Passing Bars

Q. Before getting into AA, I had several DUIs and related offenses which I was too embarrassed to list on my law school application. But I've been sober for four years now. Will my alcoholism hurt me?

Unrecorded Offenses

Q. On spring break of my freshman year in college, I got caught for underage drinking and was detained by campus police for several hours. Nothing really became of it and I can't find a record of this anywhere. Must I put it on my application?

Technical Plagiarism

Q. Rushing to get a paper done, I failed to attribute a one-sentence passage to its original author or to use quotation marks. Despite this innocent error, my law school reprimanded me for "plagiarism." Will this technicality preclude my admission?

The Character Clock

Q. How far back do bar examiners go to investigate an applicant's character and fitness for admission to the practice of law?

Second Chances

Q. I've made many mistakes in my life, but I've worked hard to overcome the past. How can I prove that I'm not the same person anymore?

Erasing Debt

Q. I've accumulated several debts in the past few years. Must I pay them all off before they'll admit me to the bar?

Cheating Yourself

Q. I got caught cheating on a law school exam, received a failing grade in the course and got reprimanded. How will this affect my admissions efforts?

Investing in Dreams

Q. Released from juvie at 18, I graduated to felonies and 85 months for wire fraud. Turning to the other side of the law, I earned a criminal justice degree while incarcerated and applied to five law schools thereafter. I only got into one. Am I wasting time on a dream that won't materialize?

Domestic Violence

Q. To gain leverage in a contentious custody battle, my ex accused me of hitting him and our kids. Though he threatened to call the police, he didn't do so after settling the case. Must I disclose his frivolous accusations?

Mental Health Disclosures

Q. After a suicide attempt as a college junior, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Thanks to medication and psychotherapy, I finished college, survived law school, and am doing much better. Must I disclose this on my bar application?

Amending Law School Applications

Q. I got a DUI in my first year of college. The judge dismissed this first offense after I finished probation. The charge was later expunged, so I didn't put it on my law school application. Since I got in, should I just keep quiet?

Speeding to the Bar

Q. Just last week, a traffic court judge joked that I've got enough points to win a NASCAR championship. Will my lead foot trip me up?

Disclosing Expunged Charges

Q. After I finished my community service, the judge struck my shoplifting conviction, terminated my probation and expunged my record. Must I disclose it on my bar application?

Arguing Redemption

Q. Is it really possible to overcome a checkered past when judges sit back on their bench, act "holier than thou," and look down on anyone with a questionable background?

Beating the RAP Sheet

Q. I've worked hard to overcome the past. But I amassed an extensive criminal record growing up on the mean streets of Baltimore. Should I even try for a legal career?

Youthful Indiscretions

Q. After a wild frat party in college, I got arrested for disorderly conduct. The charge was ultimately dismissed, so I didn't think I needed to list it on my law school application. Will this be a problem now?

Caught in the Weed

Q. As a freshman, my college placed me on probation for smoking marijuana in my dorm and, after a second offense, suspended me for the fall semester of my sophomore year. I then buckled down, graduated with honors and excelled in law school. Am I fit to admit?

Bad Credit

Q. When my business failed, I fled to law school while leaving unhappy creditors and a mess of unpaid bills behind. Now I owe an extra $60,000 in student loans. Do credit scores count?