Taking the Alabama Bar? Bad credit can prevent you from sitting for the Bar!
If you are a law student or lawyer, and you are planning on taking the Alabama State Bar to practice law in Alabama, then understand that having bad credit can prevent you from being qualified to take the bar exam.
This article is based on our experience helping both law students and attorneys from other states who want to take the bar exam in Alabama.
This information can change and you certainly need to follow whatever letters and deadlines you receive from the Alabama State Bar.
- How this can prevent you from taking the bar exam
- Why it is a big deal
- What the bar is looking for
- How to fix the problem
- Deadlines to have problems fixed
- What to do right now
Let’s look at each one of these in depth.
How this can prevent you from taking the bar exam
To sit for the bar exam you must meet certain requirements. Graduate from a law school. And meet the “character and fitness” requirements.
Basically this means that you must show you have good character to have the privilege to be a lawyer.
So the bar will look at things like traffic tickets, all your places of employment, criminal charges, etc. They are looking to see what has happened in your life and if you will be honest about it.
For example, if you lie about being fired for alleged theft, that could prevent you from passing the character portion of the requirements.
They also look at your credit report. Do you have defaulted loans? Charge offs? Collection accounts?
If you do . . . .
Why it is a big deal
Then the bar may tell you that you do NOT qualify to sit for the bar. If you can’t take the bar exam, then you can’t pass the bar. If you can’t pass the bar, you can’t be a licensed lawyer in Alabama.
Please note: I have had lawyers and law students tell me this is unfair. It is stupid. It makes no sense.
They have told me that no one mentioned this to them while they were struggling financially to get through school.
I get all of that. But none of it matters.
What matters is the reality of dealing with this right now. If you don’t solve this problem, then (fair or unfair) you won’t be able to get licensed in Alabama.
What the bar is looking for
Here are the basic things bar is looking for:
- Collection accounts
- Past due accounts
- Charge off accounts
- Problems with student loans
How to fix the problems
If you have bogus accounts on there, get those removed.
If the accounts are legitimate, you can pay off the debts or bring them current.
Or enter into a payment arrangement plan with the creditor or collector.
Basically the bar is not looking to prevent you from getting licensed just because you have had financial difficulties. But the bar does want to see that you are solving these issues.
So you can show them the debts are now paid off. Or that you have a letter from the collector/creditor agreeing to a payment plan. Then you can show the bar that you are making the payments.
If you have more time, you can do some of the longer term options such as disputing the accounts but if you are pressed for time you may have to pay if you want to sit for the bar exam.
Typically the bar wants the issues resolved by about January 1 for the February exam. Or about June 1 for the July exam. Again check your letter from the bar to get the exact dates.
What to do right now
Check your credit reports for free. Know what is out there on you.
If you see you have some potential problems, make those right.
You can talk to the bar if you have questions or you are welcome to contact us. Call us at 205-879-2447 or fill out the contact form and let us know your situation. We will be glad to help you come up with an action plan to fix this on your own or we can help you fix it.
Best wishes on your journey to taking the bar in Alabama!