Typically, new graduates from law schools get their applications into the state bar before graduation in May, take their bar exam sometime in July, find a job working in a law firm as an assistant while they wait to get their passing score and finally get admitted to practice by the end of the year.
But that isn’t how it works for everyone. If there’s something in your past that makes the bar question your moral character, you could be gearing up for an informal conference with the Committee of Bar Examiners. (If you feel more like you’re about to face an inquisition, you can be forgiven — because it definitely feels that way to many!)
So, what kinds of things can put your moral character into question?
1. Contradicting information on your applications
The bar examiners may look at your law school application and compare it to the information you provided when you applied to the bar. Discrepancies can raise red flags and prompt questions. Even an accidental omission can be a problem.
2. Questions about your academic honesty
The recent scandal involving college admissions has highlighted a problem that can have a lasting impact on a young person’s life. Any kind of falsification of credentials or academic dishonesty (like cheating on a test) can haunt your steps for years to come.
3. A criminal record of any kind
You can’t fail to disclose a criminal record and hope the bar examiners won’t notice. By the same token, your record may make it necessary to defend your moral character. This isn’t an insurmountable issue, especially if you learned from your mistake — but you may still suffer delays in your application over it.
4. Indications of untreated addiction or mental illness
The licensing process is designed to protect the reputation of all attorneys — and protect clients. Naturally, it isn’t acceptable to have an attorney practicing when there are issues with mental illness or substance abuse that aren’t under control.
5. Financial irresponsibility
Those unpaid credit cards may not have seemed like a big deal back when you were a freshman in college — but they can be a very big deal if you’re applying to the California Bar.
If any of these situations sound familiar, don’t go it alone. Talk to our office about how we might be able to help you get through the bar admissions process.