Bar Admissions: Process and Pitfalls - Frequently Asked Questions

Louisiana Supreme Court Rule XVII, Section 5(B) defines Character and Fitness: Good Moral Character and Fitness; Definitions.
The term "good moral character" includes, but is not limited to, the qualities of honesty, fairness, candor, trustworthiness, observances of fiduciary responsibility and of the laws of the State of Louisiana and of the United States of America, and a respect for the rights of other persons. The term "fitness" includes, but is not limited to, the mental or emotional suitability of the applicant to practice law in this state.

In satisfying the requirements of good moral character and fitness, applicants should be persons whose record of conduct justifies the trust of clients, adversaries, courts and others with respect to the professional duties owed to them. A record manifesting a significant deficiency in the honesty, trustworthiness, diligence or reliability of an applicant may constitute a basis for denial of admission.
Louisiana Supreme Court Rule XVII, Section 5(C), Good Moral Character and Fitness; Factors and Considerations.
Louisiana Supreme Court Rule XVII, Section 5(C), Good Moral Character and Fitness; Factors and Considerations.

While the Committee may consider any factor or circumstance in determining whether or not to further investigate an applicant's character and fitness, any of the following should be considered to be a basis for investigation and inquiry before recommending admissions:

  1. Arrests or criminal charges, whether or not resulting in a conviction.
  2. Any unlawful conduct.
  3. 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.
  4. Misconduct in employment.
  5. Acts involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.
  6. Commission of an act constituting the unauthorized practice of law.
  7. Violation of the honor code of the applicant’s law school or any other academic misconduct, including undergraduate misconduct.
  8. 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.
  9. Abuse of process.
  10. Litigation.
  11. Neglect of financial responsibilities.
  12. Neglect of professional obligations.
  13. Violation of an order of a Court, including child support orders.
  14. Military misconduct.
  15. Evidence of mental or emotional instability.
  16. Evidence of drug or alcohol misuse, abuse or dependency.
  17. Denial of admission to the Bar in any other jurisdiction on character and/or fitness grounds.
  18. Disciplinary action by a lawyer disciplinary agency of any jurisdiction.
  19. Disciplinary action by a disciplinary agency or governing body of a profession or organization of which the applicant is or was a member.
  20. 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.
  21. Conviction or a plea of guilty or “no contest” to any misdemeanor or felony, including juvenile proceedings.
  22. Any other conduct which reflects adversely upon the character or fitness of the applicant.

Please note that it is vitally important that you disclose all the aforementioned possible problem factors. Failure to do so can in itself cause a red flag with your application and be grounds for the admission to be denied. If you find that one or more of these factors may apply to you, you are strongly urged to consult with a lawyer versed in bar admission matters to discuss way to mitigate any potential problem.
Louisiana Supreme Court Rule XVII, Section 5(D), Good Moral Character and Fitness; Past Conduct; Rehabilitation

The Committee shall consider whether or not the past conduct of the applicant is likely to be repeated in the future and whether the applicant's past conduct evidences the applicant's character and fitness to practice law. If the applicant is found to have engaged in conduct which at that time would have constituted grounds for an unfavorable recommendation, then the applicant must affirmatively show that his/her character has been rehabilitated and that such inclination or instability is unlikely to recur in the future. The mere fact that there has been no repeat of any such conduct or other conduct evidencing unfitness to practice law shall not in and of itself be sufficient to constitute rehabilitation or proof of good character.

While the Committee is not limited to the factors it considers or weight it will give to prior incidents reflecting upon an applicant's character or fitness, the following factors are deemed important by the Committee in assigning the weight and significance given to prior conduct:
  1. The applicant's age at the time of the conduct.
  2. The amount of time which has elapsed since the occurrence of such conduct.
  3. The reliability of the information concerning the conduct.
  4. The seriousness of the conduct.
  5. The factors underlying the conduct.
  6. The cumulative effect of the conduct or information.
  7. The applicant's positive social contributions since the conduct.
  8. The applicant's candor and cooperation in the admissions process.
  9. The materiality of any omissions or misrepresentations.
  10. The evidence of rehabilitation.
Good Moral Character and Fitness; Burden of Proof.

No applicant shall be recommended by the Committee to the Court for admission to the Bar of this state unless such applicant first produces competent evidence to the Committee that (s)he has good moral character and the fitness necessary to practice law in the State of Louisiana. The burden of proof shall be on the applicant.
Don't procrastinate and miss your deadlines for applying. Be honest in the application process. If you have a problem of some sort, seek help a soon as possible. Ignoring a problem such as substance abuse, a past DUI arrest, or troubled credit will not help. However, given that the application process starts two years before graduation, the applicant has time to rehabilitate the potential problem. The LSBA and the law schools in Louisiana plan to have panels of volunteer lawyers to help assist students with potential problems. Presentations on these Bar Admission issues will be held in all four law schools the spring semester each year.
The Louisiana Supreme Court, the Louisiana Supreme Court Committee on Bar Admissions and the LSBA are all committed to having the highest standards for the profession. That begins and ends with the quality of individual admitted to the Bar.

In summary, acceptance to the Bar of Louisiana is NOT a one tier process. Instead there are multiple tiers including:
  1. Getting accepted and attending an ABA accredited law school;
  2. Registering with Louisiana Supreme Court Committee on Bar Admissions by October 1st of your second year;
  3. Submitting a character and fitness report to the NCBE by October 1st of your 2nd year;
  4. Graduating from the ABA accredited law school;
  5. Submit online Bar Examination Application form
  6. Passing the Louisiana State Bar Examination;
  7. Taking and Passing the MPRE;
  8. Having the requisite good character and fitness as determined by the Louisiana Supreme Court Committee on Bar Admissions
There are a number of Supreme Court cases where applicants were denied admission and/or were conditionally admitted due to character and fitness issues. Those range from old misdemeanor and felony convictions, to substance abuse problems, emotional issues, or even credit problems. Here is a partial list of cases with relevant information on the bar admissions process:

Substance Abuse cases:
  • In re: Laughlin, 922 So.2d 475 (La., 2006)
  • In re: Edwards, 958 So.2d 1173 (La., 2007)
  • In re: Boyett, 922 So.2d 469 (La., 2006)
  • In re: Bryant, 922 So. 2d 471 (La., 2006)

Criminal Conduct cases:
  • In re: Kott, No.05-OB-0999 (La., 2006)
  • In Re: Hinson-Lyles, 864 So.2d 108 (La., 2003)
  • In re: Brown, 951 So.2d 165 (La., 2007)
  • In re: Bright, No. 02-OB-2313 (La., 2003)
  • In re: Johnson, No. 02-OB-1923 (La., 2002)

Financial Issue cases:
  • In re: Deslatte, 939 So.2d 1244 (La., 2006)
  • In re: Barber, 884 So.2d 560 (La., 2004)

Dishonest Conduct/ Failure to Disclose cases:
  • In re: Knighthead, No. 03-OB-1093 (La., 2003)
  • In re: Vanderford, No. 02-OB-0364 (La., 2002)

Emotional/Mental Issue cases:
  • In re: Yarnell, 830 So.2d 290 (La., 2002)

Miscellaneous cases:
  • In re: Singer, No 01-OB-2776 (La., 2002)
  • In re: Bester, 779 So.2d 715 (La., 2001)

Other States’ Bar Admissions cases:
  • Florida Board of Bar Examiners RE: R.L.W., No SC00-2111 (Fl., 2001)
  • Florida Board of Bar Examiners RE: Applicant, 443 So.2d 71 (Fl., 1984)
  • Florida Board of Bar Examiners RE: Groot, 365 So.2d 164 (Fl., 1978)
  • Florida Board of Bar Examiners RE: W.F.H. No SC04-185 (Fl., 2006)
  • In the Matter of Anonymous for Admission as an Attorney, 573 N.Y.S.2d 60, 78 N.Y.2d 227, 577 N.E. 2d 51, (NY 1991)
  • In the Matter of Anonymous, 2007 NY Slip Op 05826 (NY 2007)
  • Texas State Board of Law Examiners v. Malloy, 793 S.W.2d 753 (Tx., 1990)
  • The Board of Law Examiners of the State of Texas v. Stevens 850 S.W.2d 558 (Tx.,1993)
  • The Board of Law Examiners of the State of Texas868 S.W. 2d 773 (Tx 1994)
First and foremost, do not lie or fail to disclose critical information on any application or report for bar admission. Instead, the LSBA suggests talking to an attorney familiar with the bar admissions process to discuss the ways to best mitigate potential trouble spots. Below please find volunteer panels from each law school that would be happy to generally discuss the issues with you. While the lawyers on the panel are there to assist you and your discussions will be confidential, they cannot be retained by you to represent you before the Committee on Bar Admissions and the Louisiana Supreme Court. The volunteer ad hoc panels are not allowed to represent you. Instead, the volunteers will be glad to assist you to determine the extent of the problem and whether you will need to find outside attorney assistance.

Professionalism and Quality of Life Committee, Subcommittee on Bar Admissions, Ad Hoc Panels

LSU Law Center
Leslie Schiff

Rick Stanley  
Office Phone: 504-523-1580
Loyola Law School
Dane S. Ciolino  
Office Phone: 504-861-5652

Mary Garvey Algero  
Office Phone: 504-861-5675
Southern Law School
Donald North
Office Phone: (225) 771-3333

Barry Grodsky
Office Phone: 504-599-8535

Rick Stanley
Office Phone: 504-523-1580
Tulane Law School
Barry Grodsky
Office Phone: 504-599-8535

Rick Stanley  
Office Phone: 504-523-1580
Each state has there own individual requirements and rules regarding bar admissions. Many states use the same character and fitness report that Louisiana does. But not all do. Make sure you contact the Bar Admissions Office of the specific state you intend to apply to.

Other pertinent information can be found at:
Denise Leeper
Bar Admissions Administrator
Committee On Bar Admissions
2800 Veterans Memorial Blvd.
Suite 310
Metairie, LA 70002
Tel: (504) 836-2420
Fax: (504) 834-1449
Monique Drake
Character and Fitness Attorney
Committee On Bar Admissions
2800 Veterans Memorial Blvd.
Suite 310
Metairie, LA 70002
Tel: (504) 836-2420
Fax: (504) 834-1449
Louisiana State Bar Association
601 St. Charles Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70130
(800) 421-LSBA(5722) / (504) 566-1600