Why is evidence of rehabilitation so important?

Evidence of rehabilitation is the most critical factor the Board uses to determine whether past problems should lead to denial of admission.

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. The extent of rehabilitation evidence that is required to demonstrate the current fitness to practice law will vary with the seriousness of the past misconduct. When there has been more serious misconduct, the Board will require a stronger showing of rehabilitation.

The mere absence of additional bad behavior is insufficient to show rehabilitation. Conducting oneself in a manner expected of all attorneys is a necessary prerequisite for rehabilitation, but it is insufficient by itself to demonstrate rehabilitation. For the Board to find rehabilitation, the applicant must show affirmative acts demonstrating personal reform and improvement.

Elements considered in establishing rehabilitation include but are not limited to the following:

  1. passage of time since the misconduct to demonstrate rehabilitation;
  2. absence of misconduct in the intervening time since the misconduct;
  3. candor and remorsefulness of the applicant before the Board;
  4. acceptance of responsibility for and renunciation of past misconduct;
  5. lack of malice and ill feeling toward those who disclosed the misconduct or initiated proceedings related to it;
  6. affirmative recommendations for admission to the bar from those aware of the misconduct;
  7. productive use of one's time for the benefit of society;
  8. restitution of funds or property, where applicable;
  9. a sufficient period of time of recovery if substance abuse was involved;
  10. compliance with the conditions of any order applicable to the misconduct;
  11. good reputation for professional ability, where applicable;
  12. personal assurances, supported by corroborating evidence, of an intention to conduct oneself in an exemplary fashion in the future;
  13. positive action showing rehabilitation by such things as a person's occupation, community or civic service;
  14. evidence of responsibility in addressing debts and dealing honestly with creditors when neglect of financial responsibilities is at issue.

The Board considers each case on its own merits, taking into account the nature of the misconduct, the elements of rehabilitation such as those listed above, and other relevant evidence submitted by the applicant.

The Board's standard for admission is current good character and fitness. Generally, the Board will assess whether the problems continue and, if they do not, whether the applicant's life has changed in ways that suggest they are unlikely to recur.