Law Students Beware: Make All Proper Disclosures

InsideHigherEd and the ABA Journal recently reported that a Northwestern Law School student was expelled for not disclosing his felon status to the law school prior to admittance.

From InsideHigherEd:
Northwestern University's law school this spring expelled a student -- months from graduation -- who is a felon who has been convicted for falsely impersonating a lawyer, The Chicago Tribune reported. The student who was kicked out then sued the university, although a settlement appears to have been reached. Northwestern faulted the student for failing to disclose his past, and said that he was an "undesirable" candidate to become a lawyer. The would-be lawyer disputes the charges from his past, but he also argues that Northwestern never asked him about his criminal history.

From the ABA Journal:
The student was convicted of of operating a law firm without a license. In 2012, he applied to and was accepted at Northwestern Law School’s master of laws program geared toward international lawyers. But when Northwestern discovered Celis’ criminal history in March, just a few months before graduation, the school booted him out.

Celis sued, arguing the school never asked about criminal convictions. Northwestern’s response to Celis’ suit didn’t dispute that it failed to ask about criminal convictions for the LL.M. program. The school’s lawyers said Celis should have known the criminal history was relevant. The school does ask about criminal history in applicants for its J.D. program, according to evidence presented in the case.

The moral of the story is to disclose all criminal convictions regardless of whether the law schools asks. I am sure that Northwestern Law School learned its lesson during litigation, and it will not ask LL.M. students to disclose criminal convictions.


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