Every question on your official application must be answered honestly and completely. You are responsible for the accuracy and thoroughness of all information provided. Full candor is a prerequisite to admission. Failure to disclose, concealment of information or failure to fully disclose may result in denial of admission, revocation of admission, suspension or dismissal after matriculation, withdrawal of certification of graduation, or revocation of the degree.
Your State Bar Will Check Your Law School Application Answers For Accuracy Through An Intensive Background Check
Full candor in the law school application process is required not only by Cooley, but also by the State Bar you will apply for your license to practice law. Your law school application answers will be scrutinized and your entire history checked by Bar authorities when you apply for admission to the Bar, which you must do in order to practice law. Just because a matter no longer appears on your public criminal record does not mean there is no private record of it, and the Bar will check on everything you report.
All applicants to the Bar must establish, by clear and convincing evidence, that they possess the good moral character required for admission, or admission will be denied. Your candor in your application to law school is a crucial indicator of your character and fitness for admission to the practice of law. The Bar will compare your disclosures on your law school application to criminal records and other information about you and if they determine that you have not been forthright, they may deny your admission.
The American Bar Association Standard 504(a) states: "A law school shall advise each applicant that there are character, fitness, and other qualifications for admission to the bar," therefore, applicants are encouraged to contact the jurisdiction in which they intend to practice to learn about that jurisdiction's requirements for admission to the Bar prior to matriculation.
Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements
Ask For Clarification From The Law School, Not Outside Third Parties
It is imperative that you accurately complete your application and that full disclosure is made in every category of questions. You may have concerns about the meaning of certain words and what exactly you have to disclose. If you are confused or have any question or doubt about what you are required to disclose, contact Cooley's Admissions Office for clarification and direction to ensure that your answers are complete.
Do not accept the advice or opinion of third persons unrelated to the law school with regard to these issues, including judges and lawyers, especially if they have not read what this application asks of you. That advice could be in error. For example, a lawyer or judge might tell you that if your criminal conviction was dismissed, sealed or expunged, disclosure is not required. This is not true.
Sealed judgments, dismissals after plea, and acknowledgement of wrongdoing, as well as expunged convictions, must be disclosed even if they were juvenile matters. Pending matters must also be disclosed.
Acknowledging Past Mistakes Does Not Necessarily Mean You Will Not Be Admitted
An applicant might fear that disclosure of negative information such as criminal history or academic disciplinary action, will result in denial of admission to the law school. This is not necessarily so. Where the offenses at issue are remote in time, occurred early in life, are minor in nature, or are isolated incidents, and where an applicant can demonstrate positive growth and change since the conduct in question, admission may still be granted.
Evidence of positive character development is always demonstrated through full and complete disclosure of transgressions and mistakes. Where the conduct at issue is so serious that admission is denied, applicants are still frequently invited to reapply to the law school at a future time after further positive growth and development.
Juvenile, Sealed, Expunged, And Pending Matters, Along With Matters That Are Dismissed After Admitting Responsibility, Must Be Disclosed Whether They Appear On Your Record Or Not
We are asking about your criminal history, not your criminal record. In other words, we want to know about any offenses you may have committed or admitted responsibility to. Just because a matter no longer appears on your public criminal record does not mean there is no private record of it. Do not accept the advice or opinion of third persons unrelated to the law school with regard to these issues, including judges and lawyers, especially if they have not read what this application asks of you. That advice could be in error.
For example, a lawyer or judge might tell you that if your criminal conviction was dismissed, sealed, or expunged, disclosure is not required. This is not true. Sealed judgments, dismissals after plea or acknowledgment of wrongdoing, expunged convictions, and even juvenile offenses, must be disclosed. Pending matters must also be disclosed. An applicant might fear that disclosure of negative information such as criminal history or academic disciplinary action, will result in denial of admission to the law school. This is not necessarily so.
You Have A Duty To Keep Your Application Updated After You Submit It, But Before You Are Admitted
Your signature on the application certifies that the answers provided are honest, full, and complete. Your signature also stands as your understanding and agreement to update your application should any of the information provided in the different categories of disclosure change. For example, should you be arrested or charged with a crime after you submit your application, or should anything else occur that would have had to be disclosed had it happened prior to completing the application, you must immediately update your application with this information.
Updates to your application prior to admission to the law school should be made in writing to the Admissions Office.
You Have A Duty To Supplement Your Application After Admission And Throughout Your Enrollment
If you are admitted to the law school, the duty to supplement your application continues through graduation. This means that any conduct that would have required disclosure in your original application had it occurred prior to that time, must be immediately disclosed as an "update to application" when it occurs.
For example, an arrest or charge must be reported at the time it occurs. A student cannot await the outcome of a criminal case before disclosing the matter to the school.
Severe Penalties Will Be Imposed For Failing To Fully Disclose
Applicants are responsible for the accuracy and thoroughness of all information provided. Failure to disclose, concealment of information, or failure to fully disclose may result in denial of admission, revocation of admission, suspension, or dismissal after matriculation, withdrawal of certification of graduation, or revocation of the degree. If you fail to promptly update your application with any new information, you could be subject to dismissal from the school, suspension, or placement on administrative probation.
Further, your non-disclosure or late disclosure will be considered by State Bar authorities in assessing your fitness for admission to the practice of law. After matriculation, updates to your application should be made in writing to the Dean of Students and Professionalism.