About the Author

Joseph M. Getty

Joseph M. Getty

Judge, Court of Appeals of Maryland


Issue: Did an applicant whose unauthorized practice of law led to his father's disbarment, but failed to supplement his application with news of his involvement in such disciplinary proceedings, and failed to supplement his application to disclose his application to the bar of another state prove the requisite character and fitness to be admitted to the Maryland Bar?

Admitted?: No. The applicant failed to promptly disclose to the Character Committee and the State Board of Law Examiners information pertaining to his unauthorized practice of law, leading to his father's disbarment. Specifically, failed to immediately file a supplement to his Maryland Bar application and instead decided to disclose this information during his interview with the Character Committee and at a hearing before the State Board of Law Examiners. Moreover, he failed to promptly file a supplement to his application to indicate his application to the Bar of Florida. Again, he chose to wait to disclose this information during the interview with the Character Committee and the hearing before the State Board of Law Examiners. These applicant's conscious decisions reflect a pattern of failing to meet the standard of absolute candor. This pattern of selective candor, along with concerns underlying his prior unauthorized practice of law, led the Court to deny his application for admission to the Bar of Maryland.

Citation: Misc. Docket No. 17 (September Term, 2017)

  • Decided on .
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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