For many, the law is a calling, as well as a profession. Those with a deep sense of justice often dream about becoming a lawyer from a young age. Others get inspired to take up the profession through a personal encounter with the criminal or legal system.

Whatever drew you to the law, you may be worried about the response to your Moral Character Statement if you have ever had an encounter with the law that resulted in a conviction or even experienced severe disciplinary action in your college career.

There are steps you can take to show rehabilitation on your application—and, hopefully, you are already in the process.

The success of your application will depend on a several factors, including your age at the time of the offensive action, what you’ve done to make amends, your current activities and more.

Here are some recommendations to improve your chances of admission to the bar:

  • If an individual or organization was wronged in the course of your actions, make amends.
  • Seek a pardon or expungement of a previous conviction, if it is possible.
  • Complete your parole with an exemplary record.
  • Graduate from a professional treatment program—as for substance abuse—to demonstrate rehabilitation from something like a DUI conviction or drug conviction.
  • Pay all fines and finish all community service requirements.
  • Serve your community or church consistently as a sign of your good character and intentions. Note that pro bono work is expected of lawyers and will not necessarily count as rehabilitation.
  • Get statements from not only friends and family but also a former parole officer, police officer or school official. It’s best if the individuals have witnessed your growth as a person and can speak to your rehabilitation.

Ultimately, things like the amount of time that has passed and the nature of the crime in question weigh heavily on your ability to defend a moral character application. The most important thing is to be honest in your statement. Part of moral character is truthfulness. If the board finds that you lied about your past, the consequence will likely be an indefensible statement.

Your past is not something you can change. Making wise decisions now can help you move forward into the future you want.

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