De Jong’s criminal conduct began in 1999 when she was approximately 15 years old and continued until 2007. However the ruling considered “De Jong’s honesty and openness with others in disclosing her criminal past; her academic achievement and volunteer work, demonstrating a substantially altered attitude towards the law; and the significant support and trust expressed in her from those who had worked with the Applicant, and who were familiar with the demands of being a lawyer” The panel further stressed
"that rehabilitation from a criminal past such as this is not only possible, but is to be encouraged. It is in the public interest to admit lawyers from diverse backgrounds with a view to meeting the legal needs of all sectors of society"
De Jong also confirmed “that there is no longer anything enticing to her about her prior life. She testified that she has worked too hard to abandon her achievements or to disappoint her family again. Her evidence in this respect, like the rest of her testimony, was credible and convincing”.
This is an interesting case as it highlights the need to admit lawyers from diverse backgrounds that fits the legal needs of our society. It also gives hope to many people with past records that they are capable of changing their life by taking necessary steps. If you are someone who is struggling because of your past conviction, remember that there is always hope.
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