The primary purpose of the character and fitness screening is to assure the protection of the public and to safeguard the
administration of justice. The good moral character and fitness standards require that an applicant to the bar be one whose
record of conduct justifies the trust of clients, adversaries, courts and others with respect to the professional duties owed
to them. An applicant whose record shows a deficiency in honesty, trustworthiness, diligence or reliability may not be recommended for admission.
Character and fitness determinations are made by the Committee’s Panel on Character and Fitness. The Panel consists of the Director of Character and Fitness and two other members of the Committee.
Factors and Considerations
The Panel may consider any factor or circumstance, including but not limited to:
- Arrests or criminal charges, whether or not resulting in a conviction.
- Any unlawful conduct.
- Making or procuring any false or misleading statement or omission of relevant information including any false or misleading statement or omission during the application process for admission to the Bar of this state or any other state.
- Misconduct in employment.
- Acts involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.
- Commission of an act constituting the unauthorized practice of law.
- Violation of the honor code of the applicant's law school or any other academic misconduct, including undergraduate misconduct.
- Membership in an organization which advocates that the United States Government be overthrown by force, if the applicant indicates a present intent that such be done.
- Abuse of process.
- Neglect of financial responsibilities.
- Neglect of professional obligations.
- Violation of an order of a Court, including child support orders.
- Military misconduct.
- Evidence of mental or emotional instability.
- Evidence of drug or alcohol misuse, abuse or dependency.
- Denial of admission to the Bar in any other jurisdiction on character and/or fitness grounds.
- Disciplinary action by a lawyer disciplinary agency of any jurisdiction.
- Disciplinary action by a disciplinary agency or governing body of a profession or organization of which the applicant is or was a member.
- Conduct of a kind which has been considered by the Court as grounds for suspension or revocation of the privilege to practice law in Louisiana.
- Conviction or a plea of guilty or “no contest” to any misdemeanor or felony, including juvenile proceedings.
- Any other conduct which reflects adversely upon the character or fitness of the applicant.
Weighing Prior Conduct
The Panel may consider the following factors in assigning weight and significance to prior conduct:
- The applicant's age at the time of the conduct.
- The amount of time which has elapsed since the occurrence of such conduct.
- The reliability of the information concerning the conduct.
- The seriousness of the conduct.
- The factors underlying the conduct.
- The cumulative effect of the conduct or information.
- The applicant's positive social contributions since the conduct.
- The applicant's candor and cooperation in the admissions process.
- The materiality of any omissions or misrepresentations.
- The evidence of rehabilitation.
Time Required to Make Determination
How long it takes the Committee to render a character and fitness determination depends on many factors which may include, among others: When your application was submitted to the NCBE; how long it takes for the NCBE to receive responses and verifications which comprise its preliminary investigation; and whether the Committee determines further inquiry is necessary.
Applicants ARE allowed to sit for the bar exam if their character and fitness application is still pending before the Committee.
Updates to Information Submitted
If your application is still being processed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners, you should provide updates in writing to the NCBE along with relevant documentation. If your application has already been processed by the NCBE, you should forward updates in writing to the Committee. Please contact the Committee’s Character and Fitness Department for assistance.