By: J. T. Lawrence
Law School admissions officials are often asked “can you become a lawyer if you have a DUI?” The fact is, there is a small barrier to law school with a DUI.
The reason the question comes up in regard to law school and not other graduate programs is that law students will presumably apply for admission to the bar of at least one state. And, the board of legal examiners requires a certificate of good moral standing for licensure.
As part of their background check, the state bar association will do a thorough background check. This will include pulling your criminal record, credit record, and more. You’ll even have to list every address at which you have lived any time in your life.
The bar will be looking specifically for indications of “moral turpitude.” In an attempt to protect the profession, they will exclude anyone who might steel client’s money or otherwise reflect badly on the profession.
Because law schools know that you will eventually have to go through this scrutiny, they try to see if you’ll be disqualified before they accept you. They don’t want to invest their time and your money in an education that you can’t use.
The law school will ask you whether you have ever been arrested for any crime. You’ll need to list all arrests and convictions, even if they happened when you were a juvenile, and even if they were expunged.
Having said all of that, will a DUI disqualify you from going to law school? Not in and of itself. If your record shows that you are an otherwise upstanding person of moral character, you can still be admitted to law school. However, multiple arrests or a single arrest with great bodily harm may put your application into doubt.
Be upfront with the law schools you apply to about your record. Don’t assume you can hide anything. Even if the law school does not find out about your DUI, the bar will. And, they will also find out that you lied to the law school which further puts your moral character in doubt.
You can go to law school after a DUI, but you will need to go the extra mile to show that you have the character it takes to be admitted to the bar.