Pennsylvania Character & Fitness Lawyers
The mantra drilled into every law school student’s head is that disclosure to the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners of potential character and fitness issues is required. Pennsylvania character and fitness determinations revolve around the centerpiece of disclosure, disclosure, disclosure.
We agree with the author of The Law School Labyrinth who wrote the following passage referring generally to character and fitness determinations:
Beyond the sentiments expressed above, failure to disclose will be an offense hanging over your head for your entire career. Living with such a painful burden is far worse than dealing with the consequences up front. You are in a far better position if you take early preparatory steps. At this point in your career, you should be aware if a defect may cause an issue. This is your profession and is not to be taken lightly.
Prior To Formal Action
Step 1: Identification
There are several stages in which your issues can arise:
- Before law school.
- During law school.
- After graduation of law school and before application to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
- In a combination thereof.
Step 2: Evaluation
The Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners have published a FAQ regarding many questions applicants may have. We have condensed it into a concise document at the bottom of this page. Unfortunately, by the nature of what these FAQ’s can address, they often speak in generalities and are rather vague. Practically, this means that you may not be precisely clear if you need to disclose your issue or if it is possible to cure.
If you are unsure, our assessment and contextualization of your unique issue can give you an opinion that affords the ability to make a well-reasoned decision – one that you must live with for the rest of your career.
Step 3: Quick Resolution
Often, an applicant may have issues that can be resolved long before they present a potential character and fitness issue. For example, your credit score will most likely be pulled by the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners. If you have several collections agencies appearing on your report, we can help by negotiating their removal – even if you can’t fully pay them off.
Step 4: Rehabilitation
Assuming that the issue(s) were not fully resolved, we provide specific methods that you can undertake to ameliorate your character and fitness issue.
Step 5: Identification
If we recommend disclosure, the next issue is to whom and when the disclosure is required. Must you inform the law school or your current jurisdiction? Navigating this question incorrectly could have severe ramifications.
Step 6: Gathering Documentation
Understanding how to properly gather your documentation is key to your proper disclosure. You should gather only materials which the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners will find persuasive in your situation. This part may be most daunting.
Step 7: Preparing Documentation
Once the documentation is gathered, we spend time preparing your documents so they most accurately reflect your situation.
Step 8: Disclosing Documentation
The organization and presentation is crucial. This is highly reflective of the time, energy, and seriousness that you put into disclosing this matter. Further, the proper order and style can convey your issue in the best light possible. This crucial step is often overlooked, but is very important.
Formal Action by the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners
The most common formal action is a letter requesting additional information on a topic the Board uncovered and found problematic or one that you have disclosed. Alternatively, you could simply be denied your recommendation to practice in Pennsylvania. At this stage there is no simple and clear path that we can use to prepare your issue. It will depend highly on the circumstances and without a doubt necessitates contacting a Pennsylvania character and fitness attorney.
This is not the time for the student to meekly wait to receive a punishment as the consequences will be dire. You need help, you need a proactive approach, you need the right attorney, right away. At KM&A, we understand the nuances. We can help.
If you have been contacted by the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners or if you have any other questions, contact KM&A. Questions and inquiries are kept strictly confidential.
Kraemer, Manes & Associates LLC “KM&A” is a law firm serving all of Pennsylvania with our principal offices in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Call KM&A in western Pennsylvania at 412-626-5626 or in eastern Pennsylvania at 215-618-9185. KM&A can be reached by email at email@example.com.