Character & Fitness

As you complete your law school application, you will notice there is a section with questions regarding your character and fitness.  Below are some friendly tips to make completing this section a breeze!

 Words of Advice

  • Big First Step – Answering these questions thoroughly and honestly is a big first step towards becoming a licensed attorney.  Pause and take a moment to consider your academic, disciplinary and/or criminal history, I promise this will save you a headache later! 
  • Board of Law Examiners (BLE) Your law school application will be submitted to the state bar association to which you apply.  The BLE performs background checks to ensure that you properly disclosed any character and fitness incidents on your law school application. 
  • Disciplinary Hearing – Nobody wants a disciplinary hearing.  If you do not disclose during the application process we will find out later from the BLE, and there will be a disciplinary hearing and possible sanctions.  Trust me, it is easier to disclose in writing than have to discuss your past transgressions with law schools administrators and faculty face-to-face. 
  • Don’t Be Intimidated – While all this may sound a bit intimidating, the typical incidents that applicants must disclose do not prevent admission. 

 Common Mistakes

  • Deferred Adjudication v. Expunctions – Sometimes applicants have agreed to deferred adjudication and think the incident has been expunged and “not on the record.”  Deferred adjudication may include probation, community service, or some other diversion program, in exchange for dismissal of the case.  However, the incident remains on the record.  To have an incident expunged you must go through a separate court process.  If you are not going to disclose an incident, ensure that you have completed this expunction process and have written documentation stating the incident was expunged. 
  • Failure to Appear Small traffic violations, which normally do not need to be disclosed, can turn into a failure to appear.  For instance, you obtain a speeding ticket and fail to pay the fines or forget to attend your court hearing.  Now in addition to the traffic violation you also have a failure to appear.  You must now disclose both incidents due to the failure to appear.
  • Dorm Violations Any dorm violations you received while in college must be disclosed.  The most common violations include noise violations and alcohol or drug possession.
  • Kids Count – Things that happened when you were “a kid” do count.  Some of the incidents from your past may be very old, but they do need to be disclosed.

The character and fitness questions are very broad and the exceptions are very narrow.  These are just a few examples and not intended as an exhaustive list. 

If you are in doubt as to whether you should include an incident in your application, please always err on the side of full disclosure.  If you have any questions, please contact our office.  You may remain anonymous when you call. 

For more information and a list of FAQs, please visit: http://www.law.uh.edu/admissions/apply-now-character-and-fitness.asp

First Semester Reflections

I took my last final for the fall semester on December 17th and I couldn’t be happier!  I had two final exams, one in Property and the other in Civil Procedure. Both exams required over three hours of plodding through a dense jungle of multiple choice questions followed by madly typing away at essay questions. I was well prepared with earplugs and coffee, but even these couldn’t ward off all of the stress before and during the test.

Most of my jitters came from not knowing what subject matter to expect. The sheer coverage of material in both classes this semester meant there were a number of possibilities, all of which needed to be reviewed. It didn’t help calm my nerves knowing that one exam was my chance to prove what I learned in the course and that my performance determined my grade for the entire semester. Running a marathon or retaking an undergraduate exam is probably more fun than a law school exam!

Studying for exams in a place where everyone is anxious creates a stressful environment and typing for four hours about everything you’ve learned in the past semester is exhausting. All of this may seem insurmountable; however there is a light at the end of the tunnel: it can be done, and finishing will give you a big sense of accomplishment. Not to mention, you have three weeks to celebrate after!

Once I finished my last exam I felt like a big weight had been lifted off of my chest. It feels great knowing that I’m done and knowing that I don’t have any exams again anytime soon.

Happy New Year!

(sung to the tune of “Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer”)
You know Houston offers Careers and Low Cost of Living
And Professions and Wages,
Homes and Jobs
And Futures and Opportunities
But do you know
The most fun of all?

Yes, Virginia, Houston has a lot to offer the aspiring attorney.  A great job market combined with an incredible cost of living make the 4th largest city and the 5th largest legal market an appealing destination for future barristers.  But what does Houston offer beyond the obvious?  Considering the season, let’s talk Holiday Cheer in Houston, Texas!

Starting mid to late November and wrapping up in the first week of the New Year, the Houston Zoo hosts “Zoolights.”  Zoolights is a must for the discerning/procrastinating law student in the midst of finals but also handy for the law student with family in town and/or family coming to town for the holiday break!

The incredible light displays incorporated into the many animal habitats and enclosures help to capture the imagination and hold attention as one meanders through the zoo in the afterhours setting.  If the millions of Christmas lights aren’t enough to brighten your evening, s’mores, hot cocoa, hot cocoa with spirits, beer, and wine are available!

Tickets for the evening of enlightened enchantment are $12.00 (or $10.00 online) and well worth the funds to take a student’s mind off of the drudgery of future finals or the drudgery of finals past.

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www.houstonzoo.org/zoolights/