APPLYING FOR THE BAR: PROVING YOURSELF TO THE COMMITTEES ON CHARACTER AND FITNESS

Section 90 of the Judiciary law states that the Appellate Divisions must “be satisfied” that a candidate for admission possesses the requisite character and fitness to join our profession.  This is quite a vague standard; attempting to quantify an equally vague character based value.

It is simple for the Committees to find someone questionable or unfit to practice law.  Indicators of dishonesty, self dealing, disrespect for the law and the like will trigger deeper levels of review and/or rejection.  But how can you prove your actual fitness?

Of course, the absence of the indicators listed above is paramount.  Yet, there are other methods you should know.  For example, if there is an arrest in your past, explain it in detail and honestly.  Take full responsibility.  Show remorse, and if possible, show what you have done to address your behavior or how you given back to the community you may have harmed.

Just keep in mind that a well crafted complete application for admission must “satisfy” the Committees upon initial review.  Any serious questions that remain will trigger a hearing; which will trigger, at minimum, a lengthy delay, substantial legal fees, etc.

The moral here?  Make sure you submit an application for admission that answers any and all potential questions that it may raise as to your fitness to practice.  If you are not certain, discuss the situation with competent counsel before filing.

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About Chris McDonough

lawyer for lawyers
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