David A. Lewis
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David A. Lewis Law PLLC
A Legal Ethics Law Firm Based In Manhattan Serving Clients In New York City And Throughout The State

A Legal Challenge At The Finish Line

PensBar Admissions

It's possible to get all the way through law school and pass your bar exam, only to run into problems in the character and fitness vetting process. This unfortunate situation can put your license in question at the same time that you've already racked up thousands in law school debt.

When you contact my firm, David A. Lewis Law PLLC, I can help you stay on track for bar admission at this crucial point in your career.

Resolving Character And Fitness Questions

There are a number of issues that could compromise your bar admission that have nothing to do with how knowledgeable you are about the law. These are called "character and fitness" requirements.

Not every character or fitness issue presents a terminal challenge to your ability to practice law. But having an experienced legal ethics attorney as a representative and adviser can help you work through the bar admissions process efficiently and effectively without further compromising your reputation or eligibility to practice law.

FAQs About The New York 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 afterward." — 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 requirements 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.

I have successfully navigated the character and fitness process on behalf of numerous clients over many years. For over 10 years, I was periodically called upon to serve as a speaker and legal ethics panelist for the required mandatory CLE training program for newly admitted lawyers 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. I can work with you to 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.

Start Your Career In The Clear

You've put a lot into your goal of becoming a practicing lawyer. Don't let a past mistake or omission undermine all the effort and money you've invested so far.

David A. Lewis Law PLLC is located in New York City and serves clients throughout New York state. To consult with an experienced legal ethics attorney who can guide you through a bar admissions issue, please call my Manhattan office at 212-951-1819 or send me an email to schedule a time to set up an initial consultation.

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