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David A. Lewis Law PLLC
A New York City Area Legal Ethics Law Firm

FAQs About the New York State Bar Admissions Process

"Membership in the bar is a privilege burdened with conditions...a fair private and professional character is one of them... compliance with that condition is essential at the moment of admission; but it is equally essential afterwards." -Judge Benjamin N. Cardozo

In New York, the Appellate Division Committees on Character and Fitness in each Judicial Department review applicants' past conduct to evaluate their "character and fitness to practice law."

Some in New York have described the process as an endeavor to determine if the applicant is honest, trustworthy, diligent and reliable. Note that any conduct that raises a question about an applicant's character or fitness can lead a Committee to investigate further. All applicants for admission must receive a certification from the applicable Committee that the applicant possesses the necessary character and fitness to practice law.

What are examples of conduct that can prompt further inquiry from the Character and Fitness Committees?

Any type of unlawful conduct. This can include speeding or other traffic infractions, underage offenses, alcohol consumption or drug charges, disorderly conduct and other offenses. Other examples include: academic or employment-related misconduct; acts involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation; neglect of financial responsibilities or professional obligations; violation of a court order (child support, restraining orders, or other disobedience of court directives); conduct evidencing mental or emotional instability; conduct evidencing drug or alcohol abuse or addiction (open container, DWI, or underage drinking charges)

How can a candidate for admission to the New York bar run into problems with their application?

Despite being ready to serve as a New York attorney (having successfully graduated from an accredited law school and having passed the New York bar examination), many candidates still can run into character and fitness obstacles when seeking admission to the New York Bar. Many character and fitness issues are a result of either past conduct or a failure to disclose certain material information about past conduct.

WHY HIRE AN EXPERIENCED ETHICS ATTORNEY TO HELP?

Why would a candidate for admission to the New York Bar want to hire a lawyer?

When one's career and professional standing is on the line, bar admission candidates can often benefit from having an experienced lawyer recognized in the field of legal ethics assist in navigating the entire process and aggressively advocating on their behalf.

David A. Lewis has successfully navigated the character and fitness process on behalf of numerous clients over many years. For over ten years, David was periodically called upon to serve as a speaker and legal ethics panelist for the required mandatory CLE program offered by the Character and Fitness Committee in the First Department.

There is no substitute for working directly with an experienced bar admissions attorney to develop a customized approach based on your specific needs. When your ability to use your law degree may be at stake, retaining experienced bar admissions counsel can be an investment in your professional future.

When in the process should I reach out to David A. Lewis Law PLLC?

Getting advice as soon as possible can be the difference between a successful resolution of an issue and a circumstance that spins out of control. Even when a bar admission candidate has made regrettable mistakes, there are times when potential obstacles can be mitigated by taking prompt remedial action. David A. Lewis, Esq. works with his clients to help assist in developing a plan of action.

A critical element can be demonstrating credibility though taking proactive steps that reveal a sincere dedication to candor and humility. Give yourself the best possible chance to successfully navigate the character and fitness process by taking the time to explore what options are available to you.

Call David A. Lewis Law PLLC 212-951-1819.

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