Robert Bowman Redux, Times Two, But Ohio’s Nicer Than New York

For several years I chronicled the frustrating travails of aspiring lawyer Robert Bowman. He was the New York law student repeatedly turned down for membership in the bar by  a panel of New York judges, who determined that he did not have the requisite good character to be admitted to the practice of law in New York because he owed nearly a half-million dollars in student loans. Not paying back financial commitments is one of the specific components of “moral turpitude,” which will block anyone from becoming a lawyer, though it will seldom get one kicked out of the profession after one becomes a lawyer. Go figure. The panel kept rejecting Bowman  because they felt his debt was per se proof of  irresponsible and negligent financial management, making him an unacceptable risk for any client.

A New York bar association subcommittee investigated, and  concluded that far from being of dubious character, Bowman was an individual of “exceptional character,” with unusual perseverance, humility and tenacity. It strongly recommended him for admission to the New York Bar, despite the outstanding debts. Ireaclize now that I never told Ethics Alarms readers “the rest of the story”: Bowman is a New York lawyer now. He finally won his appeal, though the news media, which chronicled his failures, decided that his ultimate success wasn’t newsworthy.

How do I know this? Bowman contacted me himself to tell me. He said he was grateful to all the people who had supported his quest, and was telling each of them, individually, in person.

Now comes the story, also with a possible happy ending, of another frustrated lawyer-to-be with similar issues, this time in Ohio, although I must say that her circumstances seem a bit more difficult to excuse. Cynthia Marie Rodgers (above) is a Capital University School of Law graduate whose Ohio character and fitness application was rejected because she has nearly twice as much school loan debt as Bowman, almost $900,000. Continue reading

Ethical Lawyers? There’s an App For That!

At least in New York.

The New York bar has launched a Mobile Ethics App that allows judges, lawyers and law students to access legal ethics advice from their smartphones.

The State Bar has made its catalog of more than 900 legal ethics opinions,available on an app for iPhones, Android phones and BlackBerrys, as well as iPads, through their respective app marketplaces. “Ethics questions can arise in many different contexts. The NYSBA Mobile Ethics App will allow judges, lawyers and others to access the opinions of the Association’s Professional Ethics Committee on the spot from the convenience of their mobile devices,” said Association President Vincent E. Doyle III of Buffalo (Connors & Vilardo). “The State Bar is pleased to provide this service to its members and the legal community.”

This is a terrific idea, and it is to be hoped that other bar associations follow suit.

Now if someone will  develop an app for government ethics…

[Thanks to Robert Ambrogi for the news]

UPDATE: Shortly after this was posted, I learned that another bar association has an app for ethics: the Alabama Bar, which launched the first organized code of professional responsibility that was adopted by the American Bar Association in 1908.

Robert Bowman: Aspiring Lawyer, Ethics Martyr

Robert Bowman, according to a panel of New York judges, does not have the requisite good character to be admitted to the practice of law in New York. The reason for the panel’s finding is superficially logical: he owes nearly a half-million dollars in student loans. This is, says the panel, per se proof of irresponsible and negligent financial management, making him an unacceptable risk for any client.  The panel is almost certainly wrong. Continue reading