Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Indiana Bar Application - What They Don't Tell You

When I was filling out my Indiana Bar Application, I had a lot of questions. Instead of posting a FAQ list on their website, the Board of Law Examiners would apparently rather field the same questions from dozens, if not hundreds, of candidates. I tried to get my alma mater, Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis to put together a "helpful hints" document to distribute to the student body, but although everyone in the administration seemed to think it was a good idea, predictably, no one wanted to take responsibility. So I'm posting here the things I learned, just in case I can help someone else through this sucky process with minimal wheel reinvention.
  1. Law School Application Discrepancies - make sure the disclosures on your Bar Application match those on your Law School Application. If you're like me, you didn't realize that every parking or speeding ticket needed to be described in detail on your Law School Application. Go to the registrar's office and request to see your student file. This should have your Law School Application. If you notice discrepancies, email the Dean of Admissions, explaining that you need to amend your application. Copy the registrar.
  2. List of Employers - if, in your ridiculously long list of every employer you've had since you were 18, you find that Google can't locate one of them, list the best address you can and note that the company is no longer in business. This will be sufficient.
  3. Photo Identification Card - you only need to submit one of the identification cards that is, in the words of one friend, "like a kindergarten project." This is an exception to the submit everything "IN DUPLICATE" rule. This card will be in an envelope you pick up at registration on the first morning of the Bar, and will sit in front of you as you take the test.
  4. Fingerprints - although the Bar Examiners' website suggests otherwise, it is not true that you can be fingerprinted at any law enforcement facility or state police post. I suggest that if you're in Indianapolis, go to either Government Center South, which will inter-office mail them to Anita Rice, who processes them; or the City County Building at 200 E. Washington Street, Indianapolis. I went to the City County Building: fingerprinting is on the first floor.
  5. Driving Records - check to see if your employer has an AccessIndiana subscription you may use. If so, you can obtain a certified print-out of your Indiana Driving Record through the website for $9.00. Much easier than waiting for the BMV to process it via regular mail or waiting in line at a branch.
  6. Traffic Violations - you will need to contact the County Clerk's office of the county in which you were ticketed to obtain a copy of your traffic violation. You will probably be asked for the Case Number, but if you don't know it, they'll be able to look it up via other methods. If you were ticketed in a different state, it might not be possible to obtain a copy of your ticket. Tennessee, for example, only keeps these records for three years. If you are unable, after due diligence, to obtain a copy of your ticket, note the efforts you made and explain that a copy is unavailable. The Board of Law Examiners isn't entirely unreasonable - they'll understand.
  7. Character & Fitness Interview - most people I know have had a wide variety of experiences during their interviews. Some attorneys are casual, and want to know more about your background and future goals than about your commitment to the Rules of Professional Responsibility. Others will make you cry, or quiz you about the Indiana Constitution. I looked over the Rules before my interview, which was with a judge, but it wasn't necessary. He mostly wanted to make sure I understood that as an attorney I would be held to a high standard of conduct. The bottom line - it's difficult to prepare when the interviewers take such widely different approaches to the process. But chances are you'll be okay, even if you don't know Article 1, Clause 7 of the Constitution. Just be respectful, and dress professionally.

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