About the Author

Shirley M. Watts

Shirley M. Watts

Judge, Court of Appeals of Maryland


Issue: Does a bar applicant who displayed a pattern of financial irresponsibility, applied for a car loan with false information, and failed to disclose a recent bankruptcy qualify for admission to the Bar of Maryland?

Admitted?: No. After considering the unfavorable recommendations of the Character Committee and State Board of Law Examiners, the Court held that the bar applicant had not met the burden of proving that he possesses the moral character and fitness required for admission to Bar of Maryland because applicant: (1) had demonstrated consistent pattern of financial irresponsibility; and (2) completed and signed a car loan application which included false financial information and failed to include information about recent bankruptcy.

Citation: 441 Md. 65 (2014)

  • 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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