Bar Admissions Blog

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

Speeding to the Bar

Q. Just last week, a traffic court judge joked that I've got enough points to win a NASCAR championship. Will my lead foot trip me up?

A. If you want to speed up your admission to the bar, slow down.

Bar examiners want to know if you respect the law enough to follow it as a member of the bar. While an occasional traffic violation won't jeopardize your admission, those who habitually violate the rules of the road show a disregard for the simplest of legal obligations and may be called to account for the resulting violations.

That's precisely why bar applications ask about your history of traffic violations and similar offenses. Are you a reckless driver whose busy life takes precedence over the safety of others? Do you believe that it's okay to break the law – as long as you don't get caught? Are you "above the law" and somehow immune from the consequences that others may face when ignoring it?

If the traffic court judge considers you to be the next Richard Petty, Danica Patrick, or Mario Andretti, you may be in good company on the NASCAR circuit. They may have licenses to drive. But none, to my knowledge, have a license to practice law.

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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.