(a) Petition.

(1) Beginning on July 1, 2019, an individual eligible pursuant to Rule 19-215 may file with the Board a petition under oath on a form prescribed by the Board. The petition shall be accompanied by

(A) 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, and

(B) the supporting documents and information required by the Board as to the petitioner's professional experience and character and fitness to practice law in Maryland.

(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)(3) of Rule 19-215 or should be qualified under section (e) of Rule 19-215.

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

(b) 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- 215 and 19-216.

(1) If the petitioner is qualified, the Board shall deposit the fees and begin the character investigation.

(2) 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 19-215 (e), the petitioner shall transmit written notice to the Board of the exception within five business days after the date the Board transmits notice of the preliminary determination. Upon receipt of an exception, the Board shall deposit the fees and begin the character investigation. 

(c) Return of Fees. If the Board determines on the face of the petition that the petitioner is not qualified under Rule 19-215 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. 

(d) 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 Maryland.

(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. 

(e) Action by Board on Petition. The Board shall consider the matters set forth in the petition, in any supporting documents and information, and in the NCBE's Character Report.

(1) If 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. 

(3) 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. If the Board decides to recommend denial of the petition in its report to the Court, the Board first shall give the petitioner an opportunity to withdraw the petition. If the petitioner withdraws the petition, the Board shall retain the records. If the petitioner elects not to withdraw the petition, the Board shall transmit to the Court a report of its proceedings and a recommendation as to the approval or denial of the petition together with the transcript of the hearing and all papers relating to the matter.

(4) Review by Court. If the Court, after reviewing the report of the Board, believes there may be grounds to deny admission, the Court shall order the petitioner to appear for a hearing and show cause why the petition should not be denied. Proceedings in the Court under this subsection shall be on the record made before the Board. If the Court denies the petition, the Board shall retain the records.

(f) Report to Court--Order.

(1) Report and Recommendations. As soon as practicable after the first of each month, the Board shall file with the Court a report containing

(A) the names of the petitioners who filed a petition under section (a) of this Rule, whom the Board found preliminarily qualified under subsection (b)(1) of this Rule or who filed exceptions under subsection (b)(2) of this Rule during the prior month and

(B) the Board's recommendation regarding the petitioner's admission.

The Board's recommendation with respect to each petitioner shall be conditioned on the outcome of the Board's actions under section (e) of this Rule relating to that petitioner and satisfaction of the requirements of Rules 19-212 and 19-213.

(2) Order of Ratification. On receipt of the Board's report, the Court shall enter an order fixing a date at least 30 days after the filing of the report for ratification of the Board's recommendations. The order shall include the names of all petitioners who are recommended for admission, including those who are conditionally recommended. The order shall state generally that all recommendations are conditioned on outcome of the Board's actions under subsection (e) of this Rule relating to that petitioner and satisfaction of the requirements of Rules 19-212 and 19-213, but shall not identify those petitioners as to whom proceedings are still pending. The order shall be posted on the Judiciary website no later than 5 days after the date of the order and remain on the website until ratification.

(3) Exceptions. Until the date of ratification of the Board's report, any person may file with the Court exceptions relating to any relevant matter. For good cause shown, the Court may permit the filing of exceptions after ratification of the Board's report and before the petitioner's admission to the Bar. The Court shall give notice of the filing of exceptions to the petitioner and shall refer the exceptions to the Board for proceedings under section (e) of this Rule. The Board shall report to the Court on proceedings on exceptions filed under this subsection together with the report of proceedings under section (e) of this Rule.

(4) Ratification of Board's Report. On expiration of the time fixed in the order entered pursuant to subsection (f)(2) of this Rule, the Board's report and recommendations shall be ratified subject to the conditions stated in the recommendations and to any exceptions noted under subsection (f)(3) of this Rule.

(g) Maryland Law Component. A petitioner under this Rule shall comply with Rule 19-212.

(h) Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam. A petitioner under this Rule shall comply with Rule 19-213. 

(i) Time Limitation for Admission to the Bar. A petitioner under this Rule is subject to the time limitation of Rule 19-214.

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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