PLEASE NOTE: Publication for public comment
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Proposed Amendments to Admissions Rules re Processing of Moral Character Determination Applications
In addition to meeting other requirements, such as passing the bar examination and receiving a passing score on the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination, general and attorney applicants seeking admission to the practice of law in California must apply for and receive a positive moral character determination. Applicants may file an application for moral character determination at any time after registering with the Committee of Bar Examiners (Committee) as a law student or attorney applicant. The applications of applicants who have no issues are generally processed in less than the six months. Those with issues, however, often take much longer to process. The Admissions Rules currently require that a status report be given to applicants every 60 days after reaching the six-month mark, which has proved to be problematic for those applications that require extensive investigation and review, and in most cases would be premature, as while the investigation process is continuing it has not been completed and there is nothing new to report. Preparing the status reports take resources that would be better spent processing the applications.
Also, under the current rules, applicants who have been referred for further investigation who wish to withdraw their applications may only do so with the Committee’s consent. Over the years of working with the rule as written, there appears to be few benefits to requiring such consent. If an applicant wants to withdraw the application, he or she will have to file another application in the future and start the process all over again. The information contained in a file that is pending becomes stale; current information is needed to conduct an appropriate assessment of an applicant’s background.
The Committee approved in principle proposed amendments to the Admissions Rules, which would allow the time it could take to bring the investigation to a point where a status report would be meaningful and would eliminate the need for an applicant to seek approval before withdrawing a moral character determination application after being notified that further investigation was needed, subject to a period of public comment.
The Board of Trustee’s Committee on Admissions and Education approved the Committee’s request to send the proposed amendments out for a public comment period. See the proposed amendments to Rules 4.44 and 4.45 of the Admissions Rules on the State Bar website:
Proposed amendments to Rules 4.44 and 4.45 of the Admissions Rules
Committee of Bar Examiners
Sept. 16, 2016
The State Bar of California
180 Howard St.
San Francisco, CA 94105
Fax: 415-538-2304 (Fax)