You Are Looking For Experienced Legal Counsel
To Discuss Character and Fitness Concerns For New York Bar Attorney Admissions
It’s one thing to say you’re a “good person”, but another to prove it. It’s not obvious how to demonstrate that you have the requisite character and fitness to practice law. It can feel even more daunting when you have “warts” in your background.
With everything at risk, imperfections can seem to be an insurmountable obstacle to Bar Admission. Establishing credibility can seem perplexing. How do you credibly demonstrate character and fitness?
You Want To Have An In-Depth Attorney Consultation
Before Submitting Your Application for Admission Questionnaire
You really did save my life in more ways than you will ever know. Without you, I do not know where I would have ended up. Thank you for all of your help.
A consultation is exactly that—a conversation about any Bar Admissions or Character and Fitness Committee concerns you might have. Typically, our talk runs an hour. This is an opportunity for you to disclose anything that is causing you concern.
There are many things we can accomplish in your hour. It helps if you are clear on exactly how you want to use the time. Here are some of the possibilities of how you can use the consultation time:
- If you’ve already filled out the bar application, we can review it together.
- You get a confidential privileged discussion where you can safely explain any kind of sensitive information that is causing you concern.
- You have an opportunity to share issues that are causing stress related to the bar admissions process.
- You get your questions answered about what you must disclose and what approaches to consider in thinking about how to truthfully disclose items of concern.
- I give you my reactions based on informed experience.
- I provide an honest recommendation about whether or not your situation would benefit from having a Bar Admissions lawyer help you handle it.
- I provide perspective for you — I’ve been there and seen so many different cases. That means I can put your situation into a realistic context for you. It’s always helpful to better understand how the Character and Fitness Committee might view your particular situation.
- We outline a strategic plan for you to rely on going forward. Having a plan reduces your mental stress and focuses your energy.
- You receive peace of mind in speaking to an attorney knowledgeable in the field.
You Want to Know How You Can Pass the Character and Fitness Interview and Admissions Process (the first time)
But You Are Worried About What Will Be Asked Of You
You may have an issue where you just know it will be a problem. After our initial consultation, you may decide you want an experienced Character and Fitness lawyer representing you from the start with respect to your application and to be in a position to appear on your behalf if necessary. Of course, to become a client of the firm, we must both mutually execute a written engagement letter. Once we do, here’s what you can expect when we get started.
- We take a holistic approach with your application. It’s the overall application Big Picture that you’re presenting. If you have an offense in your background, we can consider how that offense may have been mitigated by subsequent behavior.
- I let you know where you stand. If there is still something you can do now to help yourself, I make recommendations for you. We talk through the best way for you to approach your application.
- My philosophy is that the high road is the only road. The path to victory is candor and transparency. How you go about demonstrating that you have the requisite character and fitness to practice law in New York is critical.
- Failure to disclose or deliberately misleading is the best way to end up never practicing law. Taking responsibility is often your best remedy. We work on this together to identify and consider potential mitigating circumstances and actions that might put you in the best position to join the ranks of New York State lawyers.
- Most every candidate has something negative to disclose. Everyone deals with these disclosures differently. I work to advise you on how to disclose difficult information in the most transparent and honest way possible that still works to credibly advocate for your admission.
- I help you finalize your application so as to present you in the best light possible. You benefit from an objective analysis where I work with you and advise you throughout your application preparation.
This Is What You Can Expect To Happen
Once Your Application Has Been Submitted
From the first time I spoke with you, I knew you were incredibly capable and understanding. And I am glad we met in person. I felt incredibly comfortable with you, despite airing my dirty laundry. Thank you. I felt at ease having your guidance.
The most important part is done, but you still have work to do. Do not be surprised if more information is requested by the Character and Fitness Committee. There may be issues that still need to be resolved. If you feel you are facing a stumbling block at this point in the process, it is not too late to get back on track. How you navigate this part of process can be the difference between success and failure. With my extensive experience, you can count on me to guide you throughout the process.
- Your application may produce follow-up questions and concerns. I can advise you in responding, so that you have the best chance of specifically addressing the most important issues that may be holding you up.
- I help prepare you for your Character and Fitness interview. We can conduct a mock interview and I can work with you to make sure that you are fully comfortable and ready for the big day.
- There’s no such thing as a second chance to make a first impression. Engaging me gives you the ability to have an experienced lawyer preview your application before it goes out the door and get feedback. There is a lot of value in engaging an attorney who has extensive experience with other candidates that have come before you. It could be the difference that provides you the chance to make a best first impression.
While much less common, you may be required to go to a bar admissions hearing. This is where matters can get much more complex, expensive and time-consuming. You will be required to submit evidence in a formal proceeding using exhibits and witness testimony to prove that you have the requisite character and fitness for admission to the New York Bar.
Other FAQs About The New York Bar Admissions Process
Membership in the bar is a privilege burdened with conditions…a fair private and professional character is one of them… compliance with that condition is essential at the moment of admission, but it is equally essential afterward.”— Judge Benjamin N. Cardozo
In New York, the Appellate Division Committees on Character and Fitness in each Judicial Department review applicants’ past conduct to evaluate their “character and fitness to practice law.”
Some in New York have described the process as an endeavor to determine if the applicant is honest, trustworthy, diligent and reliable. Note that any conduct that raises a question about an applicant’s character or fitness can lead a committee to investigate further. All applicants for admission must receive a certification from the applicable committee that the applicant possesses the necessary character requirements and fitness to practice law.
Where To Next?
You may want to read our About page to learn more about my background as a New York legal ethics attorney.