U.S.: Marijuana Conviction On Your Record? Criminals Wanted For Scholarship
By Steve Elliott
You might think that criminal record of yours limits your opportunities. But now there's a $1,000 law school scholarship available where applicants must prove they've already been in trouble with the law.
The Appelman Law Firm, LLC, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, says the idea is designed to reward those who've made better choices after a conviction -- "those who have managed to turn their lives around and intend to pursue a career in criminal defense."
"There's a real need for passionate attorneys in criminal defense," said Avery Appelman, the firm's founder. "Nothing instills a great passion for justice quite like having suffered through the process yourself."
That's where the Appelman Law Firm Criminal Defense Scholarship comes in, and Appelman isn't alone in thinking a criminal record shouldn't be a barrier to making a better life.
"There are just too many ways to run afoul of the law for anyoen to think they are immune," Appelman said. "A mistake can easily lead to an arrest or jail."
Attempts to determine just how many criminal statutes exist have failed, because there are so many. An estimate from the government in the 1980s put it at about 3,000 in the federal system alone. Shortly afterward, another study from the American Bar Association said that was too low a figure, but couldn't come up with a better number.
Adding in state crimes only makes the situation worse. For many, avoiding a criminal record has become more a matter of luck than of being a good citizen.
By offering a scholarship to those adversely affected, the criminal defense lawyers at Appelman Law hope to help those most in need and bring awareness to the problem.
"When a simple marijuana possession charge can ban someone from federal aid, there's something wrong with the system," said Appelman. "As a society, we need to rethink what it means when we slap on the label of criminal, how it adversely affects someone's life."
To apply for the scholarship, applicants must write a short essay about their experience with the law and submit proof of a police record.
Applicants must meet the following criteria:
• Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
• Have a criminal record (this information will be held in confidence)
• Be enrolled or accepted to an accredited law school within the United States
• Have a cumulative GPA of 3.50 or higher
The following documents must be provided for consideration:
• A completed application
• An official copy of a current academic transcript
• Copy of a police report regarding your criminal record (this information will be held in confidence)
• An essay of not more than three pages describing your crime, punishment, and how you have changed or overcame your past and what you intend to do in the future as an attorney
The award recipient shall provide the following documentation to obtain the scholarship:
• Proof of Legal Residency in U.S. (i.e. birth certificate, passport, permanent resident card, etc.)
• The Appelman Law Firm Criminal Defense Law scholarship is to be used exclusively for college tuition and related expenses. A check for $1000 will be made payable to the award recipient’s school to cover these expenses and he or she is expected to submit receipts in accordance with IRS regulations
One applicant is awarded a $1000 scholarship each year. The Appelman Law Firm Criminal Defense Scholarship award recipient will be notified of the selection on or before August 1, 2015.
Completed applications must be postmarked no later than May 31, 2015. Application materials should be emailed to the attention of Ryan McGinty at Ryan@aacriminallaw.com or mailed to:
Appelman Law Firm
4501 Minnetonka Boulevard Suite 100
St. Louis Park, MN 55126
Photo of Avery Appelman: Appelman Law Firm, LLC