Character and Fitness Overview

As part of the process of seeking a certificate for admission to the bar from the Board of Law Examiners, an applicant must complete an application and provide background information for the purpose of enabling the board staff to conduct a character and fitness investigation and determination.

The board staff reviews the application and investigates the applicant’s fitness and qualifications. For a bar exam application, the board staff makes a determination on character and fitness after the applicant passes the bar exam. The character and fitness review process can take from a few weeks to more than one year depending on the nature of the investigation, the issues involved, response to requests for additional information, cooperation from outside sources, and other factors.

The following are examples of conduct that if disclosed to or discovered by the Board will cause the Board to investigate further before it makes any determinations about recommending admission:

  1. unlawful conduct
  2. academic misconduct
  3. employment misconduct
  4. making false statement(s), including the omission of relevant facts
  5. acts involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation
  6. abuse of legal process
  7. neglect of financial responsibilities, especially failure to repay student loans
  8. neglect of professional obligations
  9. violation of an order of a court
  10. evidence of mental or emotional instability, as it relates to the ability to practice law
  11. evidence of current or recent dependency on a substance such as alcohol, a narcotic, an illicit drug, or a mood altering substance, or evidence of current or recent abuse of such a substance or a prescription drug
  12. denial of admission to the bar in another jurisdiction on character and fitness grounds
  13. disciplinary action by a lawyer disciplinary agency or other professional disciplinary agency of any jurisdiction

The Board will use the following factors in assigning weight and significance regarding prior conduct:

  1. applicant's age at the time of the conduct
  2. recentness of the conduct
  3. reliability of the information concerning the conduct
  4. seriousness of the conduct
  5. factors underlying the conduct
  6. cumulative effect of conduct or information
  7. evidence of rehabilitation
  8. applicant's positive social contributions since the conduct
  9. applicant's candor in the admissions process
  10. materiality of any omissions or misrepresentations

Where there has been past misconduct demonstrating a lack of the character and fitness necessary to be admitted to practice law, the Board will consider evidence of an applicant’s rehabilitation in evaluating the applicant’s current fitness to practice law.