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Common moral character issues that raise problems with the Bar

On Behalf of | Aug 24, 2023 | Blog, Moral Character |

The moral character standards for the California State Bar apply to every licensed attorney and potential applicant. No matter where you are in your law career, you should understand the common moral character challenges. The more you know, the easier it is to defend your status.

There are some situations that weigh heavily in moral character considerations.

Criminal record

When the California Bar considers an application or reviews an attorney’s standing, any criminal convictions can raise red flags. Convictions related to violent crimes, fraud and dishonesty, in particular, indicate moral character and ethics challenges that reflect poorly. In fact, the 2022 Annual Discipline Report shows that the Bar investigated 262 cases of criminal convictions for licensed attorneys.

Substance abuse

A history of substance abuse also creates potential complications. Addiction creates credibility and morality concerns. Despite that, the Bar often considers evidence of rehabilitation and recovery.

Financial irresponsibility

Irresponsible financial decisions affect your moral character considerations during the application review. The Bar considers how you handle your personal finances as a reflection of your moral standing and trustworthiness.

Lack of candor

When applying for consideration to the Bar or undergoing a review, provide as much information as possible and be honest. Withholding information creates ethical and moral questions about your integrity. Even when the information is difficult to share or reflects poorly, being honest and forthright shows integrity.

The legal, ethical and moral obligations that come with Bar licensing are significant. Understanding the moral character considerations and challenges can help you craft your application or statement more thoroughly to help improve your standing during a review.


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