Sunday, March 10, 2024

A Jab at the Bar

Abraham Lincoln was a self-taught lawyer. How ironic, that The Maine Supreme Judicial Court - if Lincoln was alive today - would not allow him to practice law in Maine. States that do allow students to practice law, who've graduate from non-ABA-accredited schools, limit the cases they can litigate. An article at the Cleveland State University, tells what some of the pros and cons are:  

The short-term benefits of attending unaccredited law schools are outweighed by the realities of the legal profession. The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBEX) found that 23 states and territories required completion of ABA-accredited law degrees for bar exam eligibility. Graduates of non-ABA accredited law schools limit where they can practice law from the start.

It's not like an individual is going to behave in a more ethical manner if he graduates from an ABA-accredited school than one who hasn't.

I was reading some of the decisions by The Maine Board of Bar Examiners today. One applicant, who wanted to practice law in Maine, had fraudulently married a man in 2010 so that he could stay in the United States: immigration fraud. She divorced him in 2013 so she could marry her boyfriend. I had to laugh when I read the following in the Board's decision on May 23, 2023 decision denying certification: 

When asked at hearing whether it was accurate to describe herself as being fully cooperative with police in light of her removal of the handcuffs, Ms. McGonagle testified that it would have been uncooperative if police had specifically told her not to remove the handcuffs. 

Now that's the kind of response I'd expect from a lawyer, and I might even hire her... and fire the police officer who didn't properly apply the handcuffs. 

The Board is sympathetic to those who have remorse and who have changed their ways. Apparently, the reason the Board denied McGonagle's application for a Certificate of Qualification on May 12, 2023:  

At every turn since 2010, Ms. McGonagle chose deception over candor. 

Despite her past, she'd been hired to work as a law clerk in Superior Court of York County, for two justices. When interviewed for the position in 2020 she wasn't asked about her past evidently. And in the summer of 2021 Allison took the Bar exam and passed it. 

Being of good moral character a supposed necessity to practice law in Maine, Allison appealed the Board's decision; she did that within days of getting their decision. Efficiency is a good skill for an attorney to have.

On August 31 a hearing was held, and on September 25, 2023 Justice Joseph Jabar remanded the case to the Board for issuance of a Certificate of Qualification! Surely having the two justices she clerked for, Mulhern and Douglas, testify on her behalf influenced the decision by the Maine Supreme Court justice.