A positive moral character determination is a requirement for admission to the practice of law in California.
Law students are encouraged to submit a moral character application no later than the beginning of their last year of law study. The review process may take six months or longer to complete. Early filing is encouraged so that the process may be completed before results from a particular bar examination are released.
An online application or hard copy application may be submitted any time after the applicant registers with the State Bar as a law student or attorney applicant. The registration application is available in the Applicant Portal or upon request from the Office of Admissions.
Please thoroughly read the instructions before starting an application. There are special instructions for out-of-state attorneys, applicants for a Multijurisdictional Practice Program, and applicants for the Registered Foreign Legal Consultant.
The moral character application is a compilation of many details of the applicant’s life.
It is important to be truthful on the application. The State Bar and the Committee of Bar Examiners consider candor to be a significant factor in determining whether an applicant has the good moral character required for admission to practice law.
State Bar staff review the application and contact the applicant if it is incomplete or further information is otherwise required. Complete applications are reviewed to determine if the applicants have the requisite good moral character for admission. “Good moral character” includes but is not limited to qualities of honesty, fairness, candor, trustworthiness, observance of fiduciary responsibility, respect for and obedience to the law, and respect for the rights of others and the judicial process. (Rules of the State Bar, rule 4.40.)
It will take several months or longer to process an application. To check the status of your application, log in to the Applicant Portal.
It is the applicant's responsibility to be aware of moral character requirements, read and understand the application instructions, and timely comply with requests for further information.
Applicants are required to submit an update to the application within 30 days whenever information provided in the application has changed or there is new information relevant to the application. (Rules of the State Bar, rule 4.42.) An applicant will not be eligible for certification to the California Supreme Court until the application is current, which may include completion of a questionnaire if the applicant is not certified within 18 months of a positive determination. All updates and supporting documentation must be uploaded via the Applicant Portal.
For questions related to a moral character application, contact the Office of Admissions at email@example.com or 800-843-9053.