Bar Admissions Blog

Helping Bar Applicants Prove Character and Fitness for Admission to the Bar

Caught in the Weed

Q. As a freshman, my college placed me on probation for smoking marijuana in my dorm and, after a second offense, suspended me for the fall semester of my sophomore year. I then buckled down, graduated with honors and excelled in law school. Am I fit to admit?

A. If applicants for admission to the bar had to prove a pristine history, we would suffer from a shortage of lawyers.

The test for bar admission is whether, at present, you possess the requisite moral character and fitness for the practice of law. If we admit you to the bar, will we place your future clients at risk?

For this reason, youthful indiscretions are easily forgiven so long as there is no indication that your old practices persist. Entering your junior year, your character flaws and lack of maturity were evident and your character would not likely have been deemed fit for bar admission.

But, since then, your clean record, combined with stellar academic achievement, show that you have grown beyond these indiscretions to merit admission to the bar. Just be certain to act accordingly in the future so that no one may question your moral character thereafter.

Youthful Indiscretions
 

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When the Maryland Board of Law Examiners, DC Bar Committee on Admissions, or any character committee questions your character and fitness for bar admission, bar applicants should retain an attorney to assist in disclosing information relevant to character and fitness, to guide them through the bar admissions process, and to represent applicants in character committee hearings and in hearings before the Court of Appeals to determine whether they are fit to practice law. Character and fitness concerns may arise in connection with prior criminal convictions, academic dishonesty and honor code violations, addictions, drunk driving, neglected debts, and a failure to disclose material information on law school applications or on bar applications. If you have a history of misconduct, traffic citations, crimes, arrests and other facts to disclose in response to the character portion of the Maryland Bar Application or the DC Bar's NCBE application, you should strongly consider retaining bar admissions counsel if you want to avoid denial of a law license and get a license to practice law. This is even true for applicants for admission to law schools as these applications ask similar questions about character. A failure to disclose facts material to your admission could result in a denial of bar admission.

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By The Lawyer's Lawyers | Kramer & Connolly and  who are responsible for the content of this informational website.