(a) Petition.

(1) An individual eligible pursuant to Rule 19-212 shall file with the Board a petition under oath on a form prescribed by the Board, accompanied by the fees required by the Board and the costs assessed for the character and fitness investigation and report by the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

(2) The petitioner shall list (A) each state in which the petitioner has been admitted to the Bar and whether each admission was by examination, by diploma privilege or on motion; and (B) the additional facts showing that the petitioner meets the requirements of section (a) of Rule 19-212 or should be qualified under section (e) of Rule 19-212.

(3) The petitioner shall file with the petition the supporting data required by the Board as to the petitioner's professional experience, character, and fitness to practice law.

(4) The petitioner shall be under a continuing obligation to report to the Board any material change in information previously furnished.

(b) Request for Test Accommodation. A petitioner who seeks a test accommodation under the ADA for the attorney examination shall file with the Board an “Accommodation Request” on a form prescribed by the Board, together with any supporting documentation that the Board requires. The form and documentation shall be filed no later than the deadline stated in section (d) of this Rule for filing a petition to take a scheduled attorney examination.

Committee note: A petitioner who may need a test accommodation is encouraged to file an Accommodation Request as early as possible.

Cross reference: See Rule 19-205 for the procedure to appeal a denial of a request for a test accommodation.

(c) Time for Filing. The petition shall be filed at least 60 days before the scheduled attorney examination that the petitioner wishes to take. On written request of the petitioner and for good cause shown, the Board may accept a petition filed after the deadline. If the Board rejects the petition for lack of good cause for the untimeliness, the petitioner may file an exception with the Court within five business days after notice of the rejection is transmitted.

Cross reference: See Board Rule 2.

(d) Preliminary Determination of Eligibility. Upon receipt of a petition, required supporting documentation, and all applicable fees, the Board shall determine whether, on the face of the petition, the petitioner is qualified to apply for admission pursuant to Rules 19-212 and 19-213.

(i) If the petitioner is qualified, the Board shall deposit the fees, seat the petitioner for the attorney exam, and begin the character investigation.

(ii) If the Board determines that, on the face of the petition, the petitioner is not qualified, it shall promptly transmit written notice to the Petitioner of the basis for the determination. If the petitioner takes exception to the Board's preliminary determination or seeks determination as an exceptional case pursuant to Rule 19-212 (e), the petitioner shall transmit written notice to the Board of the exception within five business days of the date the Board transmits notice of the preliminary determination. Upon receipt of an exception, the Board shall deposit the fees, seat the petitioner for the attorney examination, and begin the character investigation.

(e) Return of Fees; Deferral of Examination Fee. If the Board determines on the face of the petition that the petitioner is not qualified to sit for the attorney's examination and the petitioner does not file any exception to the preliminary determination of eligibility, all fees shall be returned undeposited. If, in other circumstances, a petitioner withdraws the petition, no fees shall be refunded. If a petitioner fails to attend and take the attorney examination with or without prior notice, the Board may apply the examination fee to a subsequent examination if the petitioner shows good cause for the withdrawal or failure to attend.

(f) Standard for Admission and Burden of Proof.

(1) The petitioner bears the burden of proving to the Board and the Court that the petitioner is qualified on the basis of professional experience and possesses the good moral character and fitness necessary to practice law in this State.

(2) If the petitioner does not meet the burden of proof, the Board shall recommend denial of the petition. Failure or refusal to answer fully and candidly any relevant question in the NCBE character questionnaire or asked by the Board, either orally or in writing, or to provide relevant documentation is sufficient cause for the Board to recommend denial of the petition.

(g) Action by Board on Petition. The Board shall investigate the matters set forth in the petition.

(1) If the petitioner has passed the attorney examination and the Board finds that the petitioner has met the burden of proof, it shall transmit written notice to the petitioner of its decision to recommend approval of the petition.

(2) If the Board concludes that there may be grounds for recommending denial of the petition, the Board shall transmit written notice to the petitioner and shall afford the petitioner an opportunity for a hearing. The hearing shall not be held until after the National Conference of Bar Examiners completes its investigation of the petitioner's character and fitness to practice law and reports to the Board. The petitioner may be represented by an attorney at the hearing. Promptly after the Board makes its final decision to recommend approval or denial of the petition, the Board shall transmit written notice of its decision to the petitioner.

(3) If the Board decides to recommend denial of the petition, it shall file with the Court a report of its decision and all papers relating to the matter.

(h) Exceptions. Within 30 days after the Board transmit written notice of its adverse decision to the petitioner, the petitioner may file with the Court exceptions to the Board's decision. The petitioner shall mail or deliver to the Board a copy of the exceptions. The Court may hear the exceptions or may appoint an examiner to hear the evidence and shall afford the Board an opportunity to be heard on the exceptions.

(i) Attorney Examination. In order to be admitted to the Maryland Bar, the petitioner shall pass an attorney examination prescribed by the Board. The Board, by rule, shall define the subject matter of the examination, prepare the examination, and establish the passing grade. The Board shall administer the attorney examination on a date and at a time coinciding with the administration of the general bar examination pursuant to Rule 19-206 and shall post on the Judiciary's website at least 30 days in advance notice of the date and time of the examination. The Board shall grade the examination and shall transmit written notice of examination results to each petitioner. The Board, by Rule, shall determine the form and method of delivery of the notice of results. Successful petitioners shall be notified only that they have passed. Unsuccessful petitioners shall be given their grades in the detail the Board considers appropriate. Thereafter, the Board may not alter any petitioner's grades except to correct a clerical error. Review by unsuccessful petitioners shall be in accordance with the provisions of Rule 19-207 (b).

(j) Re-Examination. In the event of failure on the first attorney examination, a petitioner may file a petition to retake the examination, but a petitioner may not be admitted under this Rule after failing four attorney examinations. A petition for re-examination shall be accompanied by the required fees. Failure to pass the attorney examination shall not preclude any individual from applying and being admitted under the rules pertaining to the general bar examination.

(k) Report to Court--Order. The Board shall file a report and recommendations pursuant to Rule 19-209. Proceedings on the report, including the disposition of any exceptions filed, shall be as prescribed in that Rule. If the Court determines that the petitioner has met all the requirements of this Rule, it shall enter an order directing that the petitioner be admitted to the Bar of Maryland on taking the oath required by law.

(l) Required Orientation Program. A petitioner recommended for admission pursuant to section (j) of this Rule shall comply with Rule 19-210.

(m) Time Limitation for Admission to the Bar. A petitioner under this Rule is subject to the time limitation of Rule 19-211.

Cross reference: See Code, Business Occupations and Professions Article, § 10-212, for the form of oath.

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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