Law Students/Bar Applicants

WVLAP is a confidential, free service.  Any law student may seek services or participate in events and conferences.

WVLAP can help law students in a myriad of fashions.  Some law students only need information from WVLAP, while others may seek short term counseling, crisis stabilization, referrals to third party healthcare resources, stress management support or just a safe place to vent and process issues related to the pressures of law school, including the natural anxiety that arises from filling out the bar application, taking the bar and anticipating the results.

WVLAP and Law Schools

WVLAP representatives present regularly at WVU Law School and sometimes exhibit at orientations and mental health awareness events.  Law students are strongly encouraged to utilize WVLAP services for any issue that may be currently affecting their studies.  In addition, it is in any student’s best interest to contact WVLAP as soon as possible if they have any past or present issues that may raise a red flag during his or her bar application/admissions process. It is better to be proactive!

Occasionally a student is referred to WVLAP by a dean or law school staff.  Sometimes participation in WVLAP is required if the student is to remain in school or be readmitted. Law schools want their graduates to be of the utmost integrity, but also understand that mental/emotional health, substance abuse and stress related issues may arise and sometimes result in unintended consequences.

WVLAP and the Board of Law Examiners

Are you fit to be a lawyer?

Law is a challenging profession that involves the ability to analyze, reason, and communicate.  The study and practice of law is rigorous and often stressful; however, a law degree can open many doors to a rewarding career in business, practice, government, lobbying, teaching and public service.

Complete and honest disclosure on your law school and/or bar admissions application is imperative and a potential character & fitness issue. From a public safety standpoint, lawyers deal daily with the businesses, lives, families, finances and freedoms of the client public.

Law schools require applicants to be completely forthcoming about their backgrounds and to disclose past and present  behaviors and consequences that may have a bearing on their qualification to study law and their character and fitness to become a member of the legal profession.  Failure to disclose information on a law school admission application may have serious consequences including discipline, suspension, expulsion, reporting to the Board of Law Examiners and denial of admission to the Bar.  Bar Examiners may conduct background searches, as well as an applicant’s law school admission application when applying for admission to the Bar.

Full disclosure is also required when applying for admission to the Bar. Failure to candidly disclose information is taken seriously and may result in denial of admission, even if the undisclosed conduct would not necessarily have resulted in denial of admission. A reason for denying admission to the Bar is evidence of a pattern of nondisclosure or dishonesty.

When you apply for admission to the bar, you must show that you are fit to practice law and have the necessary character to justify the trust and confidence that clients, the public and the legal system will place in you. An applicant’s prior conduct is assessed in light of the following factors:

  • Applicant’s age at the time of the conduct
  • Reliability of the information concerning the conduct
  • Seriousness of the conduct
  • Cumulative effects of the conduct or information
  • Evidence of rehabilitation
  • Positive social contributions since the conduct
  • Candor in the admissions process
  • Material nature of omissions or misrepresentations

Conduct that may be cause for concern

The Board of Law Examiners typically considers the following conduct as cause for further inquiry:

  • Unlawful conduct (even conduct you consider minor, such as speeding, underage offenses, alcohol consumption or drug offenses, disorderly conduct, etc)
  • Academic or employment related misconduct
  • Acts involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation
  • Neglect of financial responsibilities or professional obligations
  • Violation of a court order (child support, restraining orders or other disobedience of a court directive)
  • Conduct evidencing mental or emotional instability
  • Conduct evidencing drug or alcohol abuse or addiction (open container, public intoxication, DUI, underage drinking, etc)

These are grounds for further inquiry but do not mean that your application for admission will necessarily be denied.  If you have engaged in any conduct of concern, you should seek more information on the character and fitness requirements or contact WVLAP.

Alcohol, drug abuse and mental health issues

The Board of Law Examiners inquiry is on conduct and fitness and whether chemical abuse, addiction or a mental health condition may impair the applicant’s ability to practice law. The Board of Law Examiners looks more favorably on applicants who have sought treatment than those who have not.  The Board of Law Examiners encourages law students who have mental/emotional health or substance use issues to contact WVLAP as soon as possible, regardless of when the student plans to sit for the Bar.

Being dishonest in the bar application process is one of the biggest mistakes an applicant can make.  Serious acts of past misconduct can be resolved through full open and honest disclosure and a sincere showing of rehabilitation.

Conditional Admission

An applicant whose previous conduct or behavior would or might result in a denial of admission may be conditionally admitted to the practice of law upon a showing of sufficient rehabilitation and for mitigating circumstances. The Board of Law Examiners shall recommend relevant conditions relative to the conduct or the cause of such conduct with which the applicant must comply during the period of conditional admission.