Applicants for admission to the bar must demonstrate that they have the personal qualities required to practice law and also the necessary character to justify the trust and confidence that clients, the public and the legal system will put in them. Before admission to the bar, some state bars require the school to complete and submit a Law School Certificate form along with supporting documents on the student’s behalf to the Character and Fitness Committee. Others may require this information to be submitted when certifying students to take their bar examination. Supporting documents can be in the form of:
- Applicant’s law school application and all supplements to the application
- Information with respect to social or academic misconduct prior to and while in attendance at BLS
In New York, the reviewing of the applicants past conduct to ensure honesty, diligence and trustworthiness is undertaken by the Appellate Division Committees on Character and Fitness in each judicial department. Following the bar examination, a list of applicants names and addresses who took the exam is sent from the Board of Law Examiners (BOLE) to the respective judicial departments. Each department informs the applicants on its list via letter about the process of admission for the Character and Fitness Committee. Admission information is available at the BOLE website.
Questions on admission to the bar, swearing in and Character and Fitness application materials should be directed to the appropriate Appellate Division of the Supreme Court. Applicants are encouraged to submit the requested information before the bar results are available.
The New York Lawyer's Assistance Trust has provided a brochure regarding the Character and Fitness requirements for admission to the practice of law in New York State. This brochure provides information to students regarding conduct that may be cause for concern in the bar admission process.
It is the responsibility of every candidate for admission to the Bar of the State of New Jersey to make available all information required by the Committee on Character. Candidates shall be required to demonstrate their ability to practice law in this State and they must possess the required traits of honesty, integrity, financial responsibility, and trustworthiness. It is mandatory for each candidate to file a Certified Statement of Candidate with the Secretary to the Committee on Character on or before a date set by the Committee. The Statement shall be in the form prescribed by the Committee.
The National Conference of Bar Examiners conducts character and fitness investigations on applicants whether they are seeking admission to the bar or a limited license to practice law. However, not all jurisdictions participate in the NCBE Character and Fitness Investigations service; therefore, applicants should consult with the jurisdiction to which they seek admission to determine if the NCBE participate in this service. A regularly updated list of contact information for the jurisdictions appears on the Bar Admission Offices page.