J.D. Admissions

 

CHARACTER AND FITNESS

Applications for 2015 JD admission will be available October 4, 2014.

 

The below links take you to LSAC’s log in page and,  from here, you can complete the on line application for applying to the UHLC.

Please make sure to review the application instructions and admissions process for important information.

The character and fitness section of your application is a very important first step towards becoming a licensed attorney.  While most applicants complete these questions carefully and honestly, it is our experience that some applicants do not.  Students who attend law school in Texas and plan to take the Texas bar exam begin the licensure process early in the fall of the first-year of law school.  Part of that application process involves submitting to the Texas Board of Law Examiners a copy of the law school application so that the BLE can make sure that applicants answered our character and fitness questions accurately.  (Other states have similar processes.)  Each year a portion of our incoming first-year students must come forward after the start of classes to amend their applications because they did not accurately complete these questions.  These students must go through a process to gather their records, amend their applications, and often meet with the Application Disclosure Subcommittee for a hearing, which often leads to a disciplinary sanction. This process can be time consuming and stressful, and it is not the way that any student wants to begin law school.

The typical incidents that applicants must disclose do not prevent admission, and applicants who fully disclose during the application process can rest easy knowing that their obligations have been fulfilled.  I know applicants are sometimes embarrassed by incidents from their past, but it is much better to accurately disclose these matters in your application than to have to meet with members of the admissions committee face-to-face to explain not only the incidents themselves, but also why you failed to disclose them truthfully in the first place.  Failure to disclose is itself considered as a character issue, and accurate disclosure is a demonstration of good character.

If you have any questions, please contact our office, and when in doubt, always err on the side of full disclosure
Thank you for your attention to this important issue.
Sincerely,
Jamie West Dillon, J.D.
Assistant Dean for Admissions
713-743-2280
jdillon@central.uh.edu

 

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

The failure to disclose an act or event such as the ones described below is often more significant and leads to more serious consequences than the act or event itself.  Failure to provide truthful answers or failure to promptly inform the Office of Admissions of any changes to your answers due to an incident that occurs after you submit your application may result in revocation of admission, disciplinary action by the UH Law Center, or denial of permission to practice law by the state in which you seek admission.  Please note, the character and fitness questions in our application (reprinted below in red) are very broad, and any exceptions should be construed very narrowly.  When in doubt you should always err on the side of FULL DISCLOSURE.

Have you ever been disciplined in any way for any matter by any college, university, law school, or other institution of higher learning, or by any professor, administrator, employee or entity representing any college, university, law school, or other institution of higher learning, or have you been allowed to withdraw from such an institution to avoid such discipline, whether or not the record of such action was retained in your file? (Discipline includes, without limitation, a letter or other written notice of reprimand or warning, suspension, expulsion, adjustment of grade, assignment of community service, any form of probation, or any other adverse action.) (Entity includes, without limitation, residential facilities or other facilities owned or managed by a college, university, law school, or other institution of higher learning.)

Q: What types if incidents are required to be disclosed?
A: You must disclose ANY disciplinary action of any kind. This is a very broad question without limitation or exception.

Q: What if something like this happened, but I received a private sanction so there’s nothing in my school's record about it?
A: You must disclose all disciplinary actions imposed by a college or university, regardless of whether the school has maintained such records.

Q: Do I have to disclose incidents like this that happened while I was a juvenile?
A: Any disciplinary action imposed by a college or university must be disclosed, regardless of your age at the time of the incident. Disciplinary action imposed by an elementary or secondary school need not be disclosed.

Have you ever been convicted of an offense, placed on probation, or granted deferred adjudication or any type of pretrial diversion? You must report any such offenses involving alcohol or drugs. You must report any failure to appear conviction resulting from any offense. You may exclude only Class C misdemeanor traffic violations.

Q: Do I need to disclose an offense for which I pled guilty or nolo contendere (no contest)?

A: Yes. You must answer "yes" if you have ever been subject to any of the conditions described above, unless the underlying offense was a Class C misdemeanor traffic violation such as a speeding ticket.  Citations given for violations that show a disregard for the law or for one’s financial responsibilities, such as failure to provide proof of insurance or driving on a suspended license, MUST be disclosed.  In addition, a warrant issued for failure to appear must be reported, even if the underlying offense was a Class C misdemeanor traffic violation.  Please note that the exception for Class C misdemeanor traffic violations is very limited in scope, and most offenses do not fall within the exception.

Q: Do I have to answer yes even though all that happened was that I was placed on probation or granted deferred adjudication?
A : Yes. You must disclose any incident for which you received probation or deferred adjudication, except when the underlying offense was a Class C misdemeanor traffic violation.

Q: What if something like this happened and I pled or was found guilty, but I really wasn't?
A: You must answer yes. In your explanation, you may discuss the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Q: What if I received a pardon after my conviction?
A: A pardon is treated the same as an order of expunction, and need not be disclosed.


Have you, within the last ten (10) years, been arrested, cited or ticketed for, or charged with any violation of the law? You must report any offenses involving alcohol or drugs. You must report any failure to appear charge or warrant resulting from any such offense. You may exclude only Class C misdemeanor traffic violations.

Q: What if something like this happened, but the police were so out of line they didn't even bother to file formal charges?
A: You must disclose the arrest, citation, or ticket. However, in your addendum, you may discuss the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Q: What if something like this happened but the charges were dismissed in court?
A: You must disclose the arrest or charge. However, you may include that the charges were dismissed in your explanation of the circumstances.

Q: What if something like this happened, but I was acquitted?
A: You must disclose the arrest or charge. However, you may include that you were acquitted in your explanation of the circumstances.

Q: What if something like this happened and I pled or was found guilty, but I really wasn't?
A: Disclose, both here and to the question above. Of course, you also can explain the circumstances surrounding the actual incident.

Q: What if something like this happened, but I was granted probation or deferred adjudication and told by my lawyer or by the court that I would never have to disclose it?
A: Disclose, both here and in your answer to the question above.

 

Have you ever been confined by any governmental authority because you were found to be dangerous to yourself or others?
Q: What if I voluntarily committed myself to a hospital for treatment. Do I have to answer this question "yes"?
A: No. If there was no court order or other action by a governmental authority, you do not need to disclose.

Q: Is that true even if I believed at the time that I was a "danger to myself or others"?
A: That's correct.

Q: What if I was involuntarily committed for something like this, but it was by a family member. Do I still have to disclose it?
A: You must disclose if the commitment required a court order or action by some other governmental authority to effectuate.

Q: What if I was involuntarily committed by a governmental authority for something like this, but it happened while I was a juvenile. Do I still have to disclose it?
A: Yes, you must disclose any such confinement by a governmental authority, even if you were a juvenile at the time.

General Questions that apply to all Character and Fitness Questions
Q: What if I have an incident that I need to disclose, but I can't remember much about it, I don't have any records, and the application deadline is here?
A: You must disclose in your application the details you do recall. You should follow this with a diligent search for additional information and supplement your application once you have obtained information from the court or jurisdiction.

Q: What if something like this happened while I was a juvenile?
A: For arrests/charges/citations, if it occurred within the last 10 years (from when you submit your application), you must disclose no matter how old you were when the incident occurred.  For incidents that fall under the question relating to convictions, you must disclose no matter when the incident occurred.

Q: Even if juvenile records are sealed under the laws of the state where the incidents happened?
A: Yes.

Q: What if my lawyer or the court told me something different at the time? What if my lawyer is telling me something different now?
A: You must fully disclose. Failure to disclose may result in disciplinary action by the UHLC and by the BLE; that you followed the advice of an attorney will not excuse the failure to disclose.  If you have questions you should speak with the Office of Admissions.

Q: What if something like this happened, but it's been expunged from my record?
A: Expunged or sealed offenses, arrests, tickets, or citations need not be disclosed. However, it is your responsibility to ensure that the offense has, in fact, been expunged. We recommend that you obtain a copy of the Court Order expunging or sealing the record in question.
Failure to reveal an offense that is not in fact expunged or sealed, raises questions related to truthfulness in addition to questions regarding the offense itself. If there is any doubt about the expungement, it is your obligation to confirm that the matter was, indeed, expunged. Misrepresentations or failures to expunge may be considered as material omissions. Please note that orders of non-disclosure (pursuant to Govt. Code §411.081) are not orders of expunction.

Q: What kinds of offenses fall within the exception for Class C misdemeanors?
A: Class C misdemeanor traffic violations include such offenses as speeding, running a stop sign, or changing lanes improperly. Citations given for violations that show a disregard for the law or for one’s financial responsibilities, such as failure to provide proof of insurance or driving on a suspended license, MUST be disclosed.  In addition, a warrant issued for failure to appear must be reported, even if the underlying offense was a Class C misdemeanor traffic violation.  Please note that the exception for Class C misdemeanor traffic violations is very limited in scope and should not be cited to excuse non-disclosure of offenses outside of the few listed above.  If you have any questions about whether a particular offense should be disclosed, please contact the Office of Admissions at 713-743-2280.

Q: What if I was involved in a Class C misdemeanor traffic offense, but I failed to appear as well and was convicted of both the traffic offense and the failure to appear. Do I have to report the whole incident?
A: Yes. A failure to appear is a separate offense and must be disclosed.

Q: When the incident occurred I was really disorganized, and I was under a great deal of stress. Does this excuse my failure to disclose?
A: No. Being well-organized is an essential part of a law practice. Being disorganized may define the reason why you got in trouble, but it does not relieve you of a duty to disclose.

Q: In the past I have bounced several checks.  Do those need to be disclosed?
A: If there was legal action, such as a conviction for failure to pay, it must be disclosed.

Q: I was delinquent in paying taxes; does that count?

A: If there was legal action, such as a conviction for failure to pay, it must be disclosed.

Q: I am afraid that if I disclose, the committee or State Bar will not let me practice.
A: Choosing not to disclose something within the scope of the questions is unacceptable; and once the failure to disclose surfaces, this choice could result in sanctions up to and including degree revocation and disbarment from practice. When in doubt, disclose and explain the circumstances. It is better to do so than to explain later why you did not disclose. Even minor matters, when combined with deceit, can become serious.

Q: What if an incident occurs after I send in my application, but before I enroll?
A: You have a continuing duty to notify the UHLC Office of Admissions of any matters that are required to be disclosed, even after you submit your application and even after you begin school. This obligation exists until you graduate from the Law Center. If your answers change after you submit your application, you should contact the Office of Admissions to amend your answer.

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