Law Student Admissions and Ethics − Rethinking Character and Fitness Inquiries

Susan Saab Fortney

Hofstra University School of Law

October 14, 2004

South Texas Law Review, Vol. 45, No. 4, 2004

This article expands on the use and recommended methods of including criminal background inquiries on law school applications. Part I of this article begins with an introduction to the ethics issues arising in connection with the admission of law students. Part II focuses on different purposes served by criminal background questions on the law school admission application, including screening applicants’ fitness to practice law. Part III considers the various ways law schools handle applicants’ nondisclosure and expands on the benefits of a modified amnesty program. Part IV explores how criminal background inquiries differ in depth, spanning from questions asking about criminal convictions to questions covering criminal charges, and how these inquiries may reflect a socio-economic bias. Part V details the advantages lawyers can provide applicants regarding disclosure. The article concludes by recommending measures law schools can take to effectively employ criminal background inquiries while simultaneously limiting any socio-economic bias.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 14

Keywords: law school admissions, criminal background checks

JEL Classification: K19

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Date posted: August 14, 2009 ; Last revised: December 13, 2012

Suggested Citation

Fortney, Susan Saab, Law Student Admissions and Ethics − Rethinking Character and Fitness Inquiries (October 14, 2004). South Texas Law Review, Vol. 45, No. 4, 2004. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1454830

Contact Information

Susan Saab Fortney (Contact Author)
Hofstra University School of Law ( email )
121 Hofstra University
Hempstead, NY 11549
United States
516-463-4744 (Phone)

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