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Automatic disqualifiers and moral character applicants

On Behalf of | Sep 1, 2023 | Receiving And Maintaining Professional Licenses |

Past misconduct can negatively impact your ability to receive a positive moral character determination. Acts of misconduct require you to show compelling rehabilitation and exemplary conduct if you want to practice law in California.

Being transparent about prior acts or situations that could influence a negative determination of moral character is important, regardless of how your conduct influences your application.

Civil, administrative or criminal proceedings or actions

The California State Bar receives over 5,000 moral character applications each year. When filing your application, the requirements under moral character require you to report any civil actions where you have involvement. This includes divorce or class action cases. Administration matters like a suspended license also have a reporting requirement. You must also report any criminal activity or law enforcement matters. This includes misdemeanors. There are possible exceptions for arrests without charges.

An applicant does not have the mandate to report incidents that occurred at an educational institution. The exception is if they received a formal or informal suspension, warning, expulsion, resignation or disciplinary probation. Pay close attention to how you answer the question on scholastic discipline.

Automatic disqualifiers for a moral character application

Under the State Bar’s instructions for applications, there is no act of misconduct that serves as an automatic disqualifier. Each situation receives an individualized assessment looking at the history and rehabilitation measures. There are several ways the Bar evaluates moral character.

There is an automatic disqualifier if an applicant has a suspension, is not in good standing or received disbarment from another jurisdiction. Apart from these, you maintain your application eligibility.  The State Bar does not prevent individuals with a negative past from taking the California Bar Examination.


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