(1) In determining the moral character and general fitness of an applicant for admission to the Bar, the Committee may act without requiring the applicant to appear before it to be sworn and interrogated or may require the applicant to appear for an informal hearing. If the Committee is unwilling to certify an applicant after an informal hearing, it shall notify the applicant of (A) the adverse matters on which the Committee relied in denying certification, and (B) the choice of withdrawing the application or requesting a formal hearing. Notice shall be given by certified mail at the address appearing on the application. Within 30 days from receipt of the notice, the applicant may file with the Committee a written request for a formal hearing. If the applicant fails to file a timely request for a formal hearing, the applicant's application shall be deemed withdrawn. If the applicant requests a formal hearing within the 30-day period, the request shall be granted and the formal hearing shall be conducted by the Committee under the following rules of procedure:

(2) The Director shall give the applicant no less than 10 days' notice of:

(A) The date, time, and place of the formal hearing;
(B) The adverse matters upon which the Committee relied in denying admission;
(C) The applicant's right to review in the office of the Director those matters in the Committee file pertaining to the applicant's character and fitness upon which the Committee may rely at the hearing; and
(D) The applicant's right to be represented by counsel at the hearing, to examine and cross-examine witnesses, to adduce evidence bearing on moral character and general fitness to practice law and, for such purpose, to make reasonable use of the court's subpoena power. 

(3) The hearing before the Committee shall be private unless the applicant requests that it be public. The hearing shall be conducted in a formal manner; however, the Committee shall not be bound by the formal rules of evidence. It may, in its discretion, take evidence in other than testimonial form and determine whether evidence to be taken in testimonial form shall be taken in person at the hearing or by deposition. The proceedings shall be recorded and the applicant may order a transcript at the applicant's expense.

(4) If after the hearing the Committee is of the opinion that an adverse report should be made, it shall serve on the applicant a copy of the report of its findings and conclusions and permit the applicant to withdraw an application within 15 days after the date of the notice. The Committee may, in its discretion, extend this time. If the applicant elects not to withdraw, the Committee shall deliver a report of its findings and conclusions to the court with service on the applicant.

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.


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