A positive moral character determination is one of several requirements for admission to the practice of law in California.
Because the moral character review process can take a minimum of six months to complete, law students should begin their application no later than the beginning of their last year of law study. Early filing is encouraged so that the process may be completed before results from a particular examination are released.
To start this background check, applicants may submit an online application or a paper application, which can be done at any time after registering as a law student or attorney applicant. Please thoroughly read the instructions before starting an application. There are special instructions for out-of-state attorneys, and those applying for a Multijurisdictional Practice program or to become a Registered Foreign Legal Consultant.
The moral character application is a compilation of many details of the applicant’s life.
It’s 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 each applicant’s history. The applicant may be contacted if the initial submission was incomplete, or if further information is necessary. Each application is reviewed to determine if the applicant meets the standard of good moral character. As defined by the Rules of the State Bar of California (Admissions Rules), “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. (Admissions Rules, Rule 4.40)
In the event the application review identifies information that raises questions about whether the applicant meets the standard for good moral character, an applicant may be invited to attend an informal conference with State Bar staff to discuss the issues.
It will take several months to process an application and gather all of the documents needed to finalize a moral character determination. To check the status of your application, log in to your Applicant Portal.
For questions, contact the Admissions Office at firstname.lastname@example.org,213-765-1500, or 415-538-2300