Admissions Question: December 9
December 09, 2018
Q: I received an MIP a few years ago, but my record was expunged. Do I still need to reveal that in my application?
A: Lewis & Clark does not ask you to reveal expunged records, but some schools may, so the short answer is yes.
Here’s the long answer: All law schools have a question on their applications that deals with your “criminal” history. It is important that you reveal this in your application fully and truthfully. Even if a record has been cleared, erased, dismissed, whatever the term, it is best to reveal more, rather than less, information. In most cases, the criminal history will not be severe enough to impact a decision on a file, especially if it’s been expunged. The real concern is that you are being honest about your background. When you register to take a state bar exam after law school, the bar examiners will do very thorough background checks. If they find discrepancies between your background and your application, it can be a big problem. Dishonesty is not a good start to a legal career.
When submitting an addendum to explain academic sanctions or criminal history, admissions committees are expecting you to provide the dates, circumstances, and outcomes of the situation. They are also expecting that you address what you learned from the experience. Many people list just the facts and don’t take the time to reflect on the situation; this is a mistake to avoid.
If you have questions as to how the state’s bar examiners will react to your application, contact the bar admission agency, prior to matriculating, in any state in which you intend to practice. Personnel at that agency are in the best position to give you guidance on the likelihood of your passing that state’s character and fitness requirements. The National Conference of Bar Examiners web site lists all the state bar licensing agencies with contact information http://www.ncbex.org/publications/bar-admissions-guide/.