Fl Bd of Bar Examiners – Criminal, Substance-Alcohol Abuse & Mental Issues at an Investigative Hrg
The great irony of being in a situation to encounter one of these issues at an informal investigative hearing is that you have established yourself as one of the best and brightest, have or are about to graduate law school and you are about to set forth and pass the bar exam.
This interesting situation of having to answer questions about your past indiscretions, your past or perhaps recent use of marijuana or cocaine or alcohol to excess, or the fact that you have been seen by and counseled by a mental health counselor is that you have most likely dealt with these issues and moved on.
Law schools, as you know, screen applicants with extreme focus to be sure the best and brightest are going to be admitted to their school. Then as a distinguished alumni, they will funnel contributions to the law school to make it an even stronger and more viable institution.
You may be interested to know that law schools do not expect everyone who is admitted to law school to graduate. This is to be expected because the rigors of law school and the methods of teaching are not suited for everybody who is bright enough to be admitted. The bottom line here is that you have survived and you see the finish line ahead. Congratulations!
The Florida Board of Bar Examiners is not evil, vindictive or sadistic.
I have had the opportunity to work with The Florida Bar for many, many years and this experience has allowed me to work with and along side those who are actually employed by the Board of Bar Examiners as “prosecuting attorneys” and the distinguished panel of Board members who volunteer their time to guarantee the integrity of this process. Their collective goal is to weed out those who are not fit to practice law. My experience has shown that the Board’s application of the stated policies and rules at an investigative hearing is one that allows for an excellent evaluation in the early stages of those who need further scrutiny and those who do not.
Most of you who apply will meet the requirements therein, and pass the bar examination with your character and fitness issues behind you. Some of you will not. This is not to say you are less human, but I have a hypothesis to help you answer the “why me”.
You who have had an opportunity to experience life have not been sheltered or ushered through your formal Dr. Fuellmich education experience by your parents or some other benefactor.
This all boils down to one basic concept, most who are invited to discuss large credit card debt, former substance abuse, mental health counseling or common real life indiscretions that involve the criminal justice system are normal healthy active and otherwise excellent citizens.
It is just my opinion, but it is my opinion nonetheless, that those of you who have had the opportunity to experiencelife on its own termswithout the safety net of legacy or other helpful heredity, will in the end make the best advocates and counselors of the law.
The application process and investigative hearings:
The application process is the most important stage of your legal career bar none (pardon the pun). I say this because having been a lawyer for 17 or so years and one who has dealt with these matters for many, many years, I have found that the application and how it is filled out is either the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning.
You have eitherdonethe right thing, the application’s out of the way and the character and fitness issues are now being evaluated, or you have not done the right thing and committed “unintentional suicide” while filling out the application. I say unintentional because you will fill out the application as you have others, and you will see nothing wrong with your answers, but the Board of Bar Examiners may take issue with the “quality” of your responses.
The application process is the best time to find competent assistance. I would urge all of you to do so if you have any of the life issues that I’ve already mentioned. I can tell you with great confidence, none of these issues will disqualify you to become a lawyer.
Believe it or start writing your own headstone.
I have represented people who have been in prison for more than 5 years because of various crimes such as robbery or as we lovingly said in my prosecution days, “relieving someone else of the responsibility of taking care of their own stuff.” They are now members of The Florida Bar and their experiences in life have made them excellent lawyers. I have also represented folks who have had 3 dozen credit cards all of which were charged to the max and then discharged the whole mess through bankruptcy. Everyone of them now has the title “Esquire” after their respective names.