Will a dui conviction prevent me from getting a law related job? 58 Answers as of February 22, 2012

I want to either work as a paralegal or legal secretary for a few years then go to law school. Will this still be possible if I have a misdemeanor DUI?

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Oberman & Rice
Oberman & Rice | Steven Oberman
Unfortunately, it is difficult to provide you with an accurate answer due to the number of variables. As an adjunct professor for over a decade at a well known law school, I can tell you that I have had students who were convicted of a DUI before or during law school.

However, the real answer may depend on the facts of your case; the length of time since your arrest; the law school(s) to which you apply; and a number of other factors. My advice to you is to continue building a good track record to establish that the arrest was an anomaly. When you apply to school, be honest about your arrest and the measures you have taken to ensure you will never place yourself in a position to even be suspected of DUI in the future. It may also be advisable to undergo a substance abuse assessment to provide the schools to demonstrate your fitness as a student and as a future lawyer.

That brings us to the next concern - whether you will be admitted to the bar of your state with a DUI conviction. I can answer that by stating that a single DUI conviction will likely not prevent you from being admitted to the bar.
Answer Applies to: Tennessee
Replied: 8/8/2011
Lowenstein Law Office
Lowenstein Law Office | Anthony Lowenstein
It depends on several factors.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/4/2011
Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC
Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC | Jacob Peter Sartz IV
Yes, it is possible and yes, you could ultimately get a law license in the future assuming you take steps to ensure that you don't pick up another conviction. How you handle your life post conviction will be more important; however, do not attempt to hide the conviction. In Michigan, for example traffic offenses stay on a person's record for a very long time. It's better to disclose it than have a prospective reviewer find it.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 7/28/2011
Smith & John
Smith & John | Kenneth Craig Smith, Jr.
It should not prevent such employment.
Answer Applies to: Louisiana
Replied: 7/27/2011
Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
ADUI will not necessarily prevent you from getting a job, but it could be a factor.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 7/26/2011
    Law Office of Thomas A. Medford, Jr., PC
    Law Office of Thomas A. Medford, Jr., PC | Thomas A. Medford, Jr.
    A DUI conviction will not necessarily keep you from getting a law related job especially if there has not been a repeat conviction. You should be prepared to fully explain the circumstances of the arrest and conviction if you apply for law school and the bar.
    Answer Applies to: District of Columbia
    Replied: 7/26/2011
    The Law Firm of David Jolly
    The Law Firm of David Jolly | David Jolly
    A DUI may or may not prevent you from getting a law related job. I depends of the employer. In terms of law school and Bar Admission, you must be honest about the conviction if asked (and you will be asked). The Bar entry should not be a problem (assuming you are honest) but the law school admission depends on the law school, your grades, your LSAT results and how competitive it is.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 7/26/2011
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    Yes a misdemeanor DUI should not cause you problems with your career goals.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 7/25/2011
    Law Office of Thomas F. Mueller
    Law Office of Thomas F. Mueller | Thomas Mueller
    No it won't. The last advice I got from the bar association was that if you admit your mistake and have taken remedial action ( classes ) they will not stand in your way. Now all you need to do is go to law school and pass the bar.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/25/2011
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law | Thomas J. Tomko
    Generally, the answer is no. However, some employers may look at a record and not hire you. It will depend on the employer, and will vary. My guess is that in general, such a conviction will not prevent you from getting a law related job. (However, if the job is with the Court or government related, then it is more likely to prevent your getting hired.) For law school or passing the bar exam, you need to pass the character and fitness review to be licensed. If this is your only offense, then you may be able to pass. If you have concerns, you may contact the State Bar and ask them directly. I hope that this was helpful, but it is only a guess.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 7/25/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    If you have gone to treatment and successfully completed it, you may eventually make it. I suggest that you consult the bar association in your state to obtain the requirements and disqualifications for practicing in your state.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 7/25/2011
    Law Office of Andrew Subin
    Law Office of Andrew Subin | Andrew Subin
    The DUI wil not prevent you from pursuing these careers.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 7/25/2011
    Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
    Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
    This response is general information only and does not establish an attorney client relationship. However, you may still be able to get a law related job since it is not a felony but of course it is up to the potential employer.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 7/25/2011
    Bloom Legal, LLC
    Bloom Legal, LLC | Seth J. Bloom
    Generally this should not preclude you from doing so, but you should probably consider pursuing an expungement to have the conviction removed from your record to better ensure success. This is something my office handles regularly in Louisiana. If you are interested in pursuing an expungement, I invite you to contact my firm at the information on this page for a free case evaluation.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 7/25/2011
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer | Cynthia Henley
    Yes, you can work in the legal community with a DWI. However, I would suggest fighting it if at all possible. There is only one first if you plead guilty. Also, I suggest you talk to some lawyers about the path to being a lawyer. There is no need to waste time by becoming a paralegal. That is not of value really. If you do study law in the future, you will likely be required to appear before the board to answer about the DWI. This will not prevent you from becoming a lawyer but you need to make absolutely sure you disclose the conviction when applying to undergraduate and graduate schools if they ask. The board takes truth telling very seriously.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 7/25/2011
    Law Office of Michael Bialys THE DUI MAN
    Law Office of Michael Bialys THE DUI MAN | Michael Bialys
    You have to inform the state bar but the record is expungable.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/22/2012
    Michael R. Nack, Attorney at Law
    Michael R. Nack, Attorney at Law | Michael R. Nack
    You should not take a conviction. If you hire an attorney, the attorney may be able to defend the case against you or at least negotiate a plea bargain that would avoid the conviction. Many employers will decline hiring someone with an alcohol related conviction. As far as law school goes, law students and lawyers have to apply to the Missouri Supreme Court and the question will be asked on every application required. If the deciding body determines that the crime is one of "moral turpitude" then the application may be denied. I strongly advise you to hire an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 7/25/2011
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
    Your application will be reviewed for acts of moral turpitude and other character issues that could impair your performance as an attorney. One DUI on you record should not affect your chances. Multiple DUI's however could reflect on your mental stability and could well cause concern on the part of the State Bar. Short of having a felony conviction there are no clear rules in this regard. I do not know if paralegal licensing is reviewed in the same manner. Getting a job as a secretary should not be a problem although you might want to consider revealing your issue to your employer as a precaution.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/24/2011
    Correia-Champa & Mailhot
    Correia-Champa & Mailhot | Susan Correia Champa
    It is always up to the individual employer, but a DUI should not prevent you from going to law school or obtaining a law related career.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 7/24/2011
    Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation
    Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation | Paul Wallin
    YES, it will be possible, but of course any law firm will want to explore the details of the DUI and make sure that you do not have a drinking problem. Our law firm has hired lawyers and legal assistants who have had prior DUI's but many law firms may not be willing to do so. You should definitely have the DUI expunged per PC 1203.4.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/24/2011
    The Law Firm of Aaron Bortel Esq.
    The Law Firm of Aaron Bortel Esq. | Aaron Bortel
    You should be able to get this type of job, and go to law school. You will probably need to explain the conviction to potential employers and law schools. Once you are ready to get your law license, you will again probably need to explain the DUI to the state bar. Doing AA meetings and counseling after the DUI will help for the future explaining, especially with the state bar.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/24/2011
    Dearbonn Law Offices
    Dearbonn Law Offices | Ajibola Oluyemisi Oladapo
    Depends on the number of DUI's you have on your record.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 7/24/2011
    A.L.A. Law Group, LLP
    A.L.A. Law Group, LLP | Lauren M. Mayfield
    Yes, you will still be able to become a lawyer in California with a DUI on your record. There is a moral character portion of the application to the State Bar in which it asks about any convictions, however it gives you an opportunity to explain the conviction so as long as you complete everything that was asked of you (classes, probation, fines, etc) and you do not get another offense, this DUI should not prevent you from becoming an attorney in California. As for employment, it will be up to each employer whether they will consider the DUI. One thing you can do to make your record look better is expunge the conviction once you have completed probation.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/24/2011
    Law Offices of Jeffery A. Cojocar, PC
    Law Offices of Jeffery A. Cojocar, PC | Jeffery A. Cojocar
    It is possible, but the conviction will prejudice you against other applicants.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 7/24/2011
    Eric M. Mark, Attorney at Law
    Eric M. Mark, Attorney at Law | Eric Mark
    There are not misdemeanor DUIs in New Jersey. A DWI in New Jersey is a motor vehicle offense. It will not appear on a criminal background check, but would appear on a driver abstract. If you are presently charged with a DUI, call an attorney ASAP. If you were previously convicted, do not lie on your applications.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 7/24/2011
    Law Office of James A Schoenberger
    Law Office of James A Schoenberger | James A Schoenberger
    No problem. I know attorneys with 4 DUIs! You can expunge the DUI three years after completing all conditions of your sentence.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 7/24/2011
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    A misdemeanor DUI should not prevent you from attending law school and sitting for the bar exam.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 7/24/2011
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
    Yes it will be possible. However, when you apply for admission to the bar, you may need to appear before the character and fitness committee to explain your conviction. Criminal convictins are grounds for attorney discipline.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 7/24/2011
    Harrison & Harrison
    Harrison & Harrison | Samuel Harrison
    I can't speak for all attorneys, but a single DUI would not keep me from hiring an otherwise qualified person. It may get you some closer scrutiny when you apply for law school and for admission to the bar, but I do not see a problem if that is the only spot on your record.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 7/24/2011
    Law Offices of Christopher Jackson
    Law Offices of Christopher Jackson | Christopher L. Jackson
    It should not as long as it is the only thing on your record and you prove that there are no alcohol issues to the admissions committee and/or your employer.
    Answer Applies to: Kentucky
    Replied: 7/24/2011
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    It is difficult to get a job with a DWI conviction as you will be a financial liability to the employer and he could get sued for millions if you injure or kill someone. You can still get hired if you have the experience and personality. You can be a lawyer with a DWI if it is not a felony.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 7/24/2011
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    It is possible but you will have to show that you have learned from the incident and overcome any underlying problem.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 7/24/2011
    Apple Law Firm PLLC
    Apple Law Firm PLLC | David Goldman
    Yes it is possible. It will have to be disclosed and explained.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 7/24/2011
    Connell-Savela
    Connell-Savela | Jason Savela
    A conviction will always show up on your criminal record, but one should not prevent you from getting into law school. As for employment, it is up to the employer. In my experience, this should not prevent you from getting most jobs.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 7/24/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    A misdemeanor DWI maybe a speed bump on the road to Bar admission, but it is not something that is likely to prevent it in the end. Good luck with your career.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 7/24/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    Yes. I believe that it will be possible. You just may have to do some apologizing. Keep the rest of your record clean.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 7/24/2011
    The Law Office of Lewis R. Rosenblum
    The Law Office of Lewis R. Rosenblum | Lewis Rosenblum
    Chances are it won't, as long as no one was injured and it is not a felony offense. Usually only felonies and crimes involving moral turpitude are a problem, but if you want to check the internet under the licensing requirements for the State Bar you may get additional information or you can check with your admissions office at your local law school.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/24/2011
    Atlanta Trial Lawyers Group
    Atlanta Trial Lawyers Group | James R. Haug
    You should try to get this reduced to a reckless driving. It will prevent you taking the bar if you had it within five years of applying for the bar exam.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 7/24/2011
    Frances R. Johnson
    Frances R. Johnson | Frances R. Johnson
    The best way to be certain is to look at an application for the school you want to apply to - each school has different admission standards. You can also speak to someone in admissions. In terms of the job, it will simply depend upon exactly where you apply, how competitive the field is, how skilled and valuable you are to the potential employer, etc. There's no way to accurately predict what may happen.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 7/24/2011
    Advanced Litigation Services
    Advanced Litigation Services | Joseph Iarussi
    Yes, but you will need to disclose the arrest/conviction on your application to law school.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 7/24/2011
    Attorney at Law
    Attorney at Law | Michael J. Kennedy
    Yes; no problem.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/23/2011
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
    No problem at all. Read State Board of Bar Examiners v. Hallinan (who is theformer district attorney of SF). He had half a dozen felony convictions and still got admitted to the Bar.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/23/2011
    Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law
    Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law | Jules Fiani
    A DUI conviction will not prevent you from receiving a law related job.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 7/23/2011
    Nichols Law Firm
    Nichols Law Firm | Michael J. Nichols
    it is possible but it may take you some extra steps to go through your state bar's character and fitness process. The important point is to make sure to disclose your conviction.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 7/23/2011
    Law Offices of James A Bates
    Law Offices of James A Bates | James A Bates
    It really depends on the law firm that is considering you. It is not the end of the world. I know a deputy district attorney who had a dui some years ago.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/23/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    Fortunately, you are eligible for expungement once you have successfully completed probation.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/23/2011
    Osterman Law LLC
    Osterman Law LLC | Mark D. Osterman
    DUI is not by itself, an obstacle. It gets sticky if someone asks if you committed a crime on an application and you conveniently forget. DUI is a crime.Admit and take a chance to explain. Good Luck
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 7/23/2011
    Law Offices of Martina A. Vigil, PC
    Law Offices of Martina A. Vigil, PC | Martina A. Vigil
    It depends on your employer. To take the bar exam, you must pass the moral character application which requires disclosure of past convictions. A one-time conviction for DUI with no prior conviction will likely not prevent you from becoming an attorney but it may slow the process down a bit. If you start your moral character application soon enough; you'll be fine.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/23/2011
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    That is up to the prospective employers and the State Bar. Many normal employers will reject applicants with criminal convictions, so your job is to persuade them you are worth hiring. For legal jobs, you could be under greater scrutiny. All criminal convictions must be fully disclosed at the time you apply for law school, and again if you graduate and apply to take the Bar Exam. Then the State Bar will decide IF you can be admitted. Talk to the admissions counselor at any law school you seek to apply at, and listen to their advice at the time. If a DUI is your only record, you probably will not be disqualified from admission, although another conviction after admission could get you disbarred. Separate from that discussion, you can consider getting the conviction expunged; which would help in obtaining and keeping employment. Many convictions can be 'expunged' from criminal records by proper application and Petition to the court, but only if there was no felony prison time sentenced whether served or not, and if it was not for certain listed Sexual and Domestic Violence crimes, and if all terms of sentencing and at least one year of probation are completed, and if there are no new charges pending. If successful, the conviction would be retroactively reduced to a misdemeanor, if necessary, and then withdrawn and the charges dismissed. Expungement does not clear, 'remove' or erase the conviction, but merely changes the record to show 'conviction reversed and dismissed by expungement'. When applying for a job in the private sector, you generally do not have to disclose a conviction if it was expunged. However, the conviction is still a 'prior' or 'strike' for purposes of repeat offense, and must be disclosed on any application for government and professional employment and licensing, bonding, security clearance, etc. The licensing agency and employer then can decide whether you are barred from licensing or employment because of the conviction.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/23/2011
    Lawrence Lewis
    Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
    Yes, you can work as a paralegal and/or legal secretary with a DUI conviciton. The question is more: Will any attorney take a chance on you if he can hire someone without a DUI conviction. Yes, you can go to law school with a DUI conviction. The problem will come when you are ready to be licensed as an attorney. The state bar that issues licenses will probably not issue you a license to practice law if you have any type of conviction. That will not stop you from becoming a law professor, a legislature, political pundit or a lobbyist, but NOT a practicing attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 7/23/2011
    Law Offices of John J. Connors, Esq.
    Law Offices of John J. Connors, Esq. | John J. Connors, Esq.
    Only a good trial lawyer can answer this. In Massachusetts they have a disposition where a person admits to the fact and can receive a continued without a finding disposition. There is still a loss of license and still a program which must be attended. It ends with a dismissal, however. Most employers do not receive any notice that a dismissal has been given. They only receive convictions. The registry still considers this a first offense for their purposes, however. A misdemeanor would not prevent you from continuing your education or working in a law office. It is still on your record for some purposes, however. If you applied for a job as a teacher, for instance, the school would receive this information. You need to first talk to a trial lawyer who can look at your case and help you make a determination as to whether you might be able to defeat the charge at trial. There are many ways to attack a DUI charge. It is never a sure thing.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 7/23/2011
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    You would have to get past character and fitness of the state bar. You would need an attorney to assist you in this.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 7/23/2011
    Michael Maltby, Attorney at Law
    Michael Maltby, Attorney at Law | Michael Maltby
    No. Many people have had DUI convictions and have still gone to law school and became members of the bar.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 7/23/2011
    Law Office of Michael Morgan, l.L.C.
    Law Office of Michael Morgan, l.L.C. | Michael Morgan
    Some employers might not hire you but as long as you disclose the conviction it should not cause serious problems getting into law school, taking the bar exam, etc.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 7/23/2011
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    Potential employers and schools are free to use whatever criteria they see fit in accepting or rejecting applicants. However, misdemeanor convictions don't usually keep people from obtaining such positions unless it absolutely relates to the job, such as a truck driver or any job that requires a CDL. There are literally convicted murderers that are members of the bar. The bar, and most employers are concerned about rehabilitation. The longer time separates you from the incident, the easier it is to show. Just make sure you don't get in anymore trouble in the meantime. Also, as long as you have no other convictions of any kind on your record, you can apply to have it expunged after five years which will shield it from your public record.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 7/23/2011
    Fitzpatrick, Mariano, & Santos, PC
    Fitzpatrick, Mariano, & Santos, PC | Raymond J. Savoy
    A dui will not prohibit you from becoming a lawyer or paralegal. However an employer may not hire you due to a criminal record.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 7/23/2011
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