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What happens if my moral character application is denied?

Part of the process of applying for admission into bar is a review of your moral character application. During this procedure, the review board checks your background, delves into why you left a job, what kind of credit you have, and any criminal offenses that might exist in your record. Even if you've passed all the other tests with flying colors, the moral character application is the one that has the least amount of black and white in the decision process. 

The application was rejected. What now?

If your application was rejected due to inaccurate information provided on your part, or even a black mark on your personal history such as a misdemeanor, the game doesn't have to be over yet. Sometimes the board will allow you to explain a discrepancy, which may satisfy any lingering misgivings they might have. It is possible to start the process over, and resubmit a new application which can be approved at a later date. Though you may have encountered one problem, it doesn't mean you won't achieve the final goal in the future.

Complete honesty is always the best approach

The application can be somewhat intimidating, and the inclusion of jobs you may not have left in good standing might feel embarrassing to bring to light. However, if you omit the information it can be considered lying, which is certainly going to negatively affect the outcome of this review of your moral character. It is better to include the negative incident--like failing to pay a debt or being arrested during a protest--and explain how it happened, even admitting your mistakes. This demonstrates the emotional maturity and sense of responsibility that the bar is seeking in their membership.

Reach out for advice and support

Sometimes it takes an objective eye to determine if it is worth reapplying to the bar when your application has been rejected. An experienced, licensed attorney who has been practicing in your intended jurisdiction may have some insider understanding of how this particular board thinks, what they consider a deal-breaker, and how best to approach any revisions when resubmitting the application. No two applications are the same and what may work for a friend may not for you.

Work past the rejection

Perhaps the hardest part when the application is denied is working past the judgment of your character. Take a deep breath, try to look at the problem objectively, and take steps to achieve your good and worthy goal. The ultimate reward will be worth the effort.

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