legality of a prisoner becoming a lawyer??

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by 63dot, Jul 8, 2007.

  1. 63dot macrumors 603

    63dot

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2006
    Location:
    norcal
    #1
    so i am in a class group where one member is a social worker for prisons and jails and another is a former law student who was a cal bar member...the former says she counseled a student who was incarcerated but he took correspondence law classes (which is allowed in california and some other states) towards a law degree

    the other member of my group said there is no way a felon could be allowed to practice law (but for how long they would be barred from practice, if ever, is not known to her)

    my alma mater, a business and law school only, had a pilot program with educating rehabilitating drug addicts so they could get their education

    so my question is: "can a felon or prisoner, in california, ever be allowed to practice law?"

    or if they could, is there a seven year waiting period, after the date of the crime they got incarcerated for, before they can hang their shingle up and practice in california?
     
  2. WildCowboy Administrator/Editor

    WildCowboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2005
    #2
    The answer isn't really clear. In most states, there is a requirement that the applicant to the bar must be of a "good character." A felony conviction is typically not regarded as an automatic disqualification under this requirement. It generally depends heavily on the what the conviction was for, how long ago it was, and other factors. It's generally extremely difficult, but not impossible, for convicted felons to be admitted to a state bar.

    Edit: Here is a good summary of California's requirement. The whole article is a pretty god read on the topic, but here is one section that summarizes things pretty well:

     
  3. Maui macrumors 6502a

    Maui

    Joined:
    May 18, 2007
    #3
    Google "James Hamm" -- convicted of a double murder, was denied admission to the bar by the Arizona Supreme Court.
     
  4. Vuzie macrumors regular

    Vuzie

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    Location:
    Maryland
    #4
    Depends on the State's Bar Association and the severity of the crime (a felony for writing bad checks vs. murder or pedophilia). Heck, in California, you actually don't need to go to law school to be sit for the bar and be licensed to practice law. There is a wierd provision that says if someone in good standing with the bar association teaches/mentors you for X months you can take the bar exam. One of the judges appointed by Ronald Regan got his start as an attorney this way. And if you can pass the California bar exam.. kudos to you.... it's one of the toughest in the nation.
     
  5. 63dot thread starter macrumors 603

    63dot

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2006
    Location:
    norcal
    #5
    actually, not really a weird provision, per se

    for much of the history of the common law world, including the usa, which is statutory in nature, but still a common law derivitive, the practice has been becoming a lawyer through appreticeship

    when there was actually a degree awarded to a person who was to sit for the bar in many circumstances, it was an undergraduate degree of bachelors of law, bachelors of civil law, or bachelors of law with an informal designation bachelors of legal letters, which was, in the end, translated to bachelors of law, etc..he he...well, anyway it was called the LL.B but was finally done away with as the main standard only the the 1970s...today, as it has been barely called by all the major law schools, is the JD, or juris doctorate...i know, go figure since the next degree in line is the master's, or LL.M

    the california exam, whether reached thru law school, correspondence study, apprenticeship under a judge or commissioner, or a combination of the above, and/or combined, but not necessarily with individual study, makes a person eligible to sit for the california bar exam...i think the rule falls somewhere way down the page online in the cal bar guidelines

    but this does not, in fact, make the test any easier and i have heard that it's the toughest, along with new york state, to pass on the first try

    while aba schools post an impressive percentage of passers on the first, second or third trys, with multiple attempts, and cal bar schools also get to a decent 70 percent passage rate in the end, the numbers don't tell the story that the california bar is given within a range of 13-14 subject areas, besides the multistate bar portion, in a very inadequate amount of time

    the alabama bar is longer in minutes, but not given on consecutive days, allowing one to regroup a tremendous amount of material to be answered on three partial days of testing

    the california bar, unfortunately, is typically held in three consecutive days and the time restraint is what throws people, not the knowledge or lack thereof of the material on the subjects of law

    but the lsat is set up that way, too

    ...the princeton review lsat guide does assert that the test could be passed with a good score by just about any high school graduate, but what is the killer is that the sections are timed and hard to answer perfectly in that small period of time

    for anybody curious, try a timed practice lsat test...it's virtually impossible to reach one's potential on the first or second try...it's certainly not an iq test...the lsat requires a lot of practice and hard work to achieve one's potential

    ...and the "ungraded" written portion of the lsat exam, given after the quick fire multiple choice sections, is set up so few can finish it to full potential in time...and in reality, it does count...my written portion was terrible :)

    anyway, the concept of doing a lot of answering in a short period of time, is something that makes most of us fall on our face, and the california bar exam tests for the fittest, but not the smartest, so many a person with brains who has always achieved their goals thru so-called "smarts", are designed to fail the bar exam on their first try

    ...and that should scare the "smart" and everybody else who is not willing to work hard for the bar

    now when i finish law school, if i do, or if i even finish year one, i should be able to explain all of what i did, without leaving anything out, in half the words i used on this post
     
  6. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2005
    #6
    And it has only gotten tougher because as I understand it, there are too many lawyers in CA. I have friends who have taken it 2 times already and still can't pass.
     
  7. Vuzie macrumors regular

    Vuzie

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    Location:
    Maryland
    #7
    And they are re-working the test this year. One can only expect it to get worse....

    Ironically, DC which has a very large number of lawyers is one of the easier bars to pass. If you passed the bar in another state, and want to practice in DC, you only need a "barred" DC sponsor. Thankfully the exams for Maryland and Virginia are more difficult...
     
  8. 63dot thread starter macrumors 603

    63dot

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2006
    Location:
    norcal
    #8
    actually, the large number is how many people actually apply to california law schools

    a much smaller number is how many get accepted and finally finish and pass the california bar

    and a much smaller number yet is how many stay in the job just 12 months after getting licensed

    ...there are really only 156,000, or so, practicing lawyers in a state of thirty or so million (really impossible to say how many live and work here, but that's a topic for the political section on macrumors ;) , so while the number is high, the percentage is not high per capita
     
  9. 63dot thread starter macrumors 603

    63dot

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2006
    Location:
    norcal
    #9
    many thanks, now i can go tell my study group on this letter of the law

    when in doubt, the prof says "it depends" is usually the answer in a matter of law
     

Share This Page