Explaining Character and Fitness Issues in Law School Applications

Law School Expert Blog

It can be intimidating to apply to law school when there are things you need to report in your applications that you’re not particularly proud of. Law schools ask about criminal history and academic dishonesty; being candid in your responses is essential. It’s incredibly common for applicants to stress over something as minor as a “Minor in Possession Charge” (and yes, it is minor in every sense of the word), or a DUI or plagiarism incident. A single incident, explained away by time and maturity and demonstration that it is not indicative of the person you are today, is unlikely to negatively impact an admission decision. But a history of substance abuse, violence or dishonesty – especially if the

incidents are recent or (!!!) ongoing – is going to make it harder to get into law school.

Here’s a little video explanation:

2 Responses

  1. Hi Ann,

    This post was very helpful. I am applying to law school this coming fall and will need to complete a character and fitness addendum. My freshman year I was accused of plagiarism on a group project and given an academic sanction. The dean at the time informed me that even though the incident was unintentional it still constitutes a violation of academic integrity. The incident is not on my transcript but nonetheless I will disclose all the necessary facts to each law school. I have taken full responsibility for what happened and this was a one time occurrence.

    As a nervous applicant, I can’t help but go down a Reddit rabbit hole and find information that indicates that I shouldn’t even apply as plagiarism is the nail in the coffin for a potential law school applicant. My question is whether you have seen people get into law school under similar circumstances and whether or not I should still apply?

    1. David, avoid Reddit on this. It’s going to be just fine – this will not keep you out of law school. I had a client a few years back with a freshman year plagiarism incident and she got into Harvard Law.

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