The State Bar seeks comments on a change in the admissions rules for out-of-state attorneys to file moral character determination applications.
Deadline: Oct. 25, 2017
Proposed Amendments to Admissions Rules re Qualification of Out-of-State Attorney Applicants to File Moral Character Determination Applications.
Attorneys from other jurisdictions seeking to practice law in California are not allowed to file a moral character determination application if suspended or disbarred according to Rule 4.41 of Title 4, Division 1, Chapter 4, Rule 4.41 of the Rules of the State Bar (Admissions Rules), which says:
Rule 4.41 Application for Determination of Moral Character
An applicant must submit an Application for Determination of Moral Character with required fingerprints and the fee set forth in the Schedule of Charges and Deadlines. An attorney who is suspended or disbarred, has resigned with disciplinary charges pending or is otherwise not in good standing for disciplinary reasons in any jurisdiction may not submit an application.
The language above appears to restrict attorney applicants from applying for moral character determinations who have been disciplined in the state where they have practiced, although there is ambiguity with regard to the word “suspended” A strict reading of the rule would suggest that anyone suspended, for any reason, including administrative reasons like non-payment of fees, not current on MCLE requirements, etc., would be prohibited from becoming a lawyer in California. In some cases, an attorney cannot clear up such a suspension because they have moved and the state of suspension requires the attorney to intend to practice in that state in order to seek “good standing” status. When the rule was adopted the concept was to limit those who had been disbarred or suspended for disciplinary reasons, not for administrative ones.
The Committee approved in principle the following amendment to Rule 4.41:
An applicant must submit an Application for Determination of Moral Character with required fingerprints and the fee set forth in the Schedule of Charges and Deadlines. An attorney who is suspended for disciplinary reasons or disbarred, has resigned with disciplinary charges pending or is otherwise not in good standing for disciplinary reasons in any jurisdiction may not submit an application.
The proposed amendment is recommended to clarify the rule so that there is no confusion as to whether attorneys who have been administratively suspended in other states are eligible to file a moral character determination application in connection with their pursuit of admission to practice law in California. Such attorney applicants would still have to acquire a Positive Determination of good moral character in order to be admitted to the practice of law in California.
Admissions Rules – Rule 4.41
Committee of Bar Examiners
Oct. 25, 2017
The State Bar of California
180 Howard St.
San Francisco, CA 94105