Hope After a Conviction; Connecticut Bar Approves Reginald Betts, Yale Graduate and Felon to Practice Law

Reginald Dewayne Betts Image Via Yale Law School

Reginald Betts knows all too well:  criminal records follow people for the rest of their lives. Felons face collateral consequences. However, a felony conviction does not necessarily preclude admission to the state bar or obtaining a license to practice law. In fact, Betts who is a convicted felon, an award-winning author, and a Yale Law School graduate defied the odds.

Despite a carjacking conviction at the age of 16; Reginald Betts turned his life around. After serving eight years in prison, he graduated from the University of Maryland. Betts accepted a fellowship from Harvard University before earning a Yale law degree.

However, after passing the bar exam and applying for a license to practice in Connecticut, his application was flagged. You could only imagine the emotions he felt. Because of three felony convictions for carjacking which he committed as a teen; Betts faced the possibility of not being able to practice law.

Per the Associated Press, Normally, “such an applicant must prove clear and convincing evidence, of good moral character and/or fitness to practice law.”

In essence, Betts’ story is remarkable. “The Connecticut Bar Examining Committee recommended Reginald Dwayne Betts, 36, for admission to the state bar, a move that cleared him to become an attorney pending a swearing-in ceremony.”

Along the way, he wrote two poetry books which include a poem titled, For you: anthopilous, lover of flowers. Additionally, a third book, a memoir about his plight titled, “A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age” earned him a 2010 NAACP Image Award.

Information: How to Become an Attorney After a Felony Conviction

Generally, before granting admission to its bar, each state will evaluate an applicant’s character and fitness to practice law, according to Lisa Kramer.

  1. Consult the Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements to find out specific rules for admission to the state bar.
  2. Apply to Law School: Disclose all criminal records.
  3. Be sure to attend an accredited law school and earn a juris doctor degree.
  4. Apply for admission to state bar association; be sure to fill out a character and fitness application and provide background information. Be truthful!
  5. If possible provide evidence of pardon.
  6. Provide the bar with evidence that proves that you are of good moral character and have been rehabilitated. Include support letters and all accomplishments.
  7. Wait for approval.
  8. Register for bar exam and pass the bar exam with flying colors!

In case you are wondering, Betts’ future is bright. He plans to become a law professor and is currently working on his doctorate degree.


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