California Bar Moral Character Application

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rcharter1978

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby rcharter1978 » Wed Jan 09, 2019 2:18 pm

InterAlia1961 wrote:I just wanted to update those of you who are following this thread. The Committee declined to reconsider their decision. I will be appealing to the State Bar Court. However, I'll be on my own. The attorney I hired to write the reconsideration letter charged me $750 just to write it. I could've done it myself. To proceed to State Bar Court, she wants $15,000. Apparently, that's on the low end for a SF attorney, but even that is out of my reach. I'm still paying my share of the heart valve surgery.

I'll update here when I can. The first step is filing a Application for Review with the State Bar Court. I'm pretty sure I can manage that part. If anyone has any insights, observations, or experiences to share, please message me.

Again, if you can afford it, hire an attorney up front to deal with any serious C&F issues. I may not be in the situation if I'd taken that advice.


Geez :(

Good luck. I really hope this happens for you.

I can't believe this all costs so much.

I don't know your living situation, but would it be possible to get barred in another state? I know California doesn't really have any reciprocity, but is it possible to take the bar again in an easier state, get barred there and do Federal work?

I suspect the same flags would come up, but California probably has an incentive to keep people out of the profession so the issues that prevent you from getting barred here may not be as big a deal in a state with fewer attorneys.

I just feel like it totally sucks that you may have to wait like 2 years or whatever to reapply when you've been waiting so long.

Can't you get barred in DC with a reasonable MBE score?

InterAlia1961

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby InterAlia1961 » Wed Jan 09, 2019 6:38 pm

rcharter1978 wrote:
Geez :(

Good luck. I really hope this happens for you.

I can't believe this all costs so much.

I don't know your living situation, but would it be possible to get barred in another state? I know California doesn't really have any reciprocity, but is it possible to take the bar again in an easier state, get barred there and do Federal work?

I suspect the same flags would come up, but California probably has an incentive to keep people out of the profession so the issues that prevent you from getting barred here may not be as big a deal in a state with fewer attorneys.

I just feel like it totally sucks that you may have to wait like 2 years or whatever to reapply when you've been waiting so long.

Can't you get barred in DC with a reasonable MBE score?


I can wait two years, but then I'll only have a year and a half before my bar exam results expire. I'm done waiting. This is the second denial because of the same incident. I did not lack candor during the informal conference. I do not lack insight. I have rehabilitated myself and my efforts have been significant. I'm going to stand. If not now, when? If I lose at the State Bar Court, I can still apply again, presumably in two years. Although, I can't find anything that specifically states that. For all I know, you lose the opportunity to apply again in two years if you challenge them.

Applying in another jurisdiction won't help. Once you've been denied admission on moral character grounds in one state, you'll be denied everywhere. I'm locked into California.

Not only is it expensive to hire counsel, one attorney I contacted, Jerome Fishkin, isn't taking any new clients.

FinallyPassedTheBar

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby FinallyPassedTheBar » Wed Jan 09, 2019 8:22 pm

InterAlia1961 wrote:
rcharter1978 wrote:
Geez :(

Good luck. I really hope this happens for you.

I can't believe this all costs so much.

I don't know your living situation, but would it be possible to get barred in another state? I know California doesn't really have any reciprocity, but is it possible to take the bar again in an easier state, get barred there and do Federal work?

I suspect the same flags would come up, but California probably has an incentive to keep people out of the profession so the issues that prevent you from getting barred here may not be as big a deal in a state with fewer attorneys.

I just feel like it totally sucks that you may have to wait like 2 years or whatever to reapply when you've been waiting so long.

Can't you get barred in DC with a reasonable MBE score?


I can wait two years, but then I'll only have a year and a half before my bar exam results expire. I'm done waiting. This is the second denial because of the same incident. I did not lack candor during the informal conference. I do not lack insight. I have rehabilitated myself and my efforts have been significant. I'm going to stand. If not now, when? If I lose at the State Bar Court, I can still apply again, presumably in two years. Although, I can't find anything that specifically states that. For all I know, you lose the opportunity to apply again in two years if you challenge them.

Applying in another jurisdiction won't help. Once you've been denied admission on moral character grounds in one state, you'll be denied everywhere. I'm locked into California.

Not only is it expensive to hire counsel, one attorney I contacted, Jerome Fishkin, isn't taking any new clients.


I admire your determination.

What are you planning to do if your bar results expire before passing C&F Are you planning on taking the bar exam again?

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rcharter1978

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby rcharter1978 » Wed Jan 09, 2019 8:47 pm

I feel like I might have used Jerome fishkins office because that sounds vaguely familiar. But a female partner(?) handled my issue and I think her hourly rate was far less and she was really good. Although she was very clear that the rates would go up the further along I went in the process I would have lost my damn mind if 15000 ever came.up.

Maybe at this point you need the big man on campus, but it would be nice if you could get some help from someone with a more reasonable fee structure.

Man, I wish I had solid actionable advice for you, because this sucks.

InterAlia1961

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby InterAlia1961 » Thu Jan 10, 2019 4:21 pm

FinallyPassedTheBar wrote:
I admire your determination.

What are you planning to do if your bar results expire before passing C&F Are you planning on taking the bar exam again?


Yes. Jose Baez, Casey Anthony's attorney, was denied admission repeatedly on C&F grounds. Took him eight years to get admitted. Had to take the Florida bar twice.

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby JakeTappers » Fri Jan 25, 2019 11:48 pm

Got a second letter saying “we are continuing to process” or something. It’s been 6 months. Any tea leaves to read?

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby InterAlia1961 » Sat Jan 26, 2019 12:52 pm

JakeTappers wrote:Got a second letter saying “we are continuing to process” or something. It’s been 6 months. Any tea leaves to read?


Six to eight months is normal. If it's beyond that, then maybe check into what's going on.

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby apprentice2020 » Sat Jan 26, 2019 9:44 pm

Does anyone know to what extent the government shutdown has had on the processing of moral character application?

I'm assuming that many of us may have to wait more than the 180 days if we submitted our application in the weeks before the government shutdown.

estefanchanning

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby estefanchanning » Sat Jan 26, 2019 10:34 pm

apprentice2020 wrote:Does anyone know to what extent the government shutdown has had on the processing of moral character application?

I'm assuming that many of us may have to wait more than the 180 days if we submitted our application in the weeks before the government shutdown.


It has no effect unless you worked for the federal government. Moral character app is state-run

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby yunjh2725 » Sun Jan 27, 2019 12:48 pm

Hi everyone. I sent the hardcopy and one of my references has received the form. I then realized that I did not list any attorney on the references! I only listed non-attorneys (somehow read the instruction and skipped the at least one memeber of the bar part). Will this delay or oead to denial of my app? Should I call them and supply them with my attorney references?

Thank u so much in advance

InterAlia1961

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby InterAlia1961 » Sun Jan 27, 2019 5:05 pm

yunjh2725 wrote:Hi everyone. I sent the hardcopy and one of my references has received the form. I then realized that I did not list any attorney on the references! I only listed non-attorneys (somehow read the instruction and skipped the at least one memeber of the bar part). Will this delay or oead to denial of my app? Should I call them and supply them with my attorney references?

Thank u so much in advance


You should probably write them and include the names and contact information of the attorney references. And, don't forget to let your references know you're using them.

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby InterAlia1961 » Mon Jan 28, 2019 5:33 pm

UPDATE: I sent the appeal out today. I'll keep update here when I get a response. They have 120 days to complete the investigation. Ten days after that to send a report to the court, and then I'll hear from the court. In theory, that's how it works.

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby popgoestheweasel » Mon Jan 28, 2019 6:20 pm

I have a 2L SA in NYC but am thinking of CA for post graduation (please no career advice here). If I submitted my moral app now as a 2L will they contact my SA firm? I do not want them to know.

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rcharter1978

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby rcharter1978 » Mon Jan 28, 2019 6:59 pm

InterAlia1961 wrote:UPDATE: I sent the appeal out today. I'll keep update here when I get a response. They have 120 days to complete the investigation. Ten days after that to send a report to the court, and then I'll hear from the court. In theory, that's how it works.


Good luck! Maybe the squeaky wheel will get the oil!

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby apprentice2020 » Mon Jan 28, 2019 10:36 pm

estefanchanning wrote:
apprentice2020 wrote:Does anyone know to what extent the government shutdown has had on the processing of moral character application?

I'm assuming that many of us may have to wait more than the 180 days if we submitted our application in the weeks before the government shutdown.


It has no effect unless you worked for the federal government. Moral character app is state-run


Doesn't the State Bar send documentation to the DOJ and FBI to cross-check our fingerprints?

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby InterAlia1961 » Wed Jan 30, 2019 12:54 pm

rcharter1978 wrote:Good luck! Maybe the squeaky wheel will get the oil!


Maybe. Hopefully.

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby AspiringLawyer8818 » Sun Mar 17, 2019 6:54 pm

Hi everyone,

I am currently going through the character and fitness process and was hoping to get some advice/feedback from those that were in a similar position.

To summarize, I have a series of alcohol-related incidents in my past. Specifically, I have been charged with 4 drinking-related misdemeanors, convicted of two. I was also suspended from a university for one year as a result of a number of drinking incidents that occurred in the dorms.

The most recent of these incidents occurred 6.5 years ago. Since that time I worked for three years in a prestigious lobbying/consulting firm and have received both my JD as well as an MBA. I attribute my past transgressions to being a stereotypical "partying" college student. None of my incidents involved violence, lying, etc., simply public intoxication and similar charges.

As expected, I have received the follow-up letter requesting more information from the State Bar. I have since hired an attorney who has asked me to do the following (non-exhaustive):

- Get screened for alcohol dependence
- Enter LAP and demonstrate sobriety for roughly the next year (including marijuana - which I have never had any incident with)
- Do 20 hours of community service a week
- Retrieve as many letters of rec as possible

The whole process has sent me into a spiral of depression. I understand the purpose of the process, but feel that it has actually set me back in my own development and recovery. Ultimately, I no longer even want to be an attorney and feel that the whole process puts applicants with a past at a serious disadvantage as compared to their peers. Rather than be able to continue to represent that I have changed and progress with my career, I feel that I will forever be behind in my practice of law.

Does anyone feel the same as I do or have any words of encouragement? I frequently find myself infuriated by how arbitrary the whole process is. Why is drinking more serious than other problems the committee does not screen for (e.g., gambling addictions, domestic violence, etc.)? I have also known people with multiple DUIs who have gotten through no problem. This seriously confuses me because a DUI involves a conscious decision to put the lives of others at risk. Under this reasoning, I would have been better-suited to hop in a car and drive home after drinking, rather than drunkenly walk in public where I got cited for my misdemeanors.

THIS WHOLE PROCESS MAKES NO SENSE TO ME. It seems completely arbitrary and, in my opinion, perpetuates the problems the bar is looking to solve. Can anyone relate or give me any advice? Thanks!

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby rcharter1978 » Mon Mar 18, 2019 11:02 am

^^my advice is to listen to your attorney, put your head down and get through it. It's hard for me to understand your feelings of persecution (?) because to me it seems like you had quite a few documented instances, and I tend to think that people get caught like every 10th time they have done something.

Also, getting suspended for a "number" of drinking related incidents, having four instances of being charged for drinking related situations and then writing it all off to standard college shenanigans makes it seem like you might have a problem, or had a problem. I knew and know some pretty hard drinkers who turn to assholes when drunk and have not had as many police encounters.

Also, as flawed as this process is, it isnt really isn't about YOUR career, it is about protecting everyone else from a potentially bad attorney. Trying to say that it's unfair because you could have driven drunk to me totally misses the point.

Frankly I think the process is far, far more unfair to people with heavy debt and unpaid judgments. Particularly considering the shitshow that was the economy like 10 years ago. I'm not in any of those situations, but that seems far more unfair.

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby InterAlia1961 » Mon Mar 18, 2019 1:05 pm

AspiringLawyer8818 wrote:Hi everyone,

I am currently going through the character and fitness process and was hoping to get some advice/feedback from those that were in a similar position.

To summarize, I have a series of alcohol-related incidents in my past. Specifically, I have been charged with 4 drinking-related misdemeanors, convicted of two. I was also suspended from a university for one year as a result of a number of drinking incidents that occurred in the dorms.

The most recent of these incidents occurred 6.5 years ago. Since that time I worked for three years in a prestigious lobbying/consulting firm and have received both my JD as well as an MBA. I attribute my past transgressions to being a stereotypical "partying" college student. None of my incidents involved violence, lying, etc., simply public intoxication and similar charges.

As expected, I have received the follow-up letter requesting more information from the State Bar. I have since hired an attorney who has asked me to do the following (non-exhaustive):

- Get screened for alcohol dependence
- Enter LAP and demonstrate sobriety for roughly the next year (including marijuana - which I have never had any incident with)
- Do 20 hours of community service a week
- Retrieve as many letters of rec as possible

The whole process has sent me into a spiral of depression. I understand the purpose of the process, but feel that it has actually set me back in my own development and recovery. Ultimately, I no longer even want to be an attorney and feel that the whole process puts applicants with a past at a serious disadvantage as compared to their peers. Rather than be able to continue to represent that I have changed and progress with my career, I feel that I will forever be behind in my practice of law.

Does anyone feel the same as I do or have any words of encouragement? I frequently find myself infuriated by how arbitrary the whole process is. Why is drinking more serious than other problems the committee does not screen for (e.g., gambling addictions, domestic violence, etc.)? I have also known people with multiple DUIs who have gotten through no problem. This seriously confuses me because a DUI involves a conscious decision to put the lives of others at risk. Under this reasoning, I would have been better-suited to hop in a car and drive home after drinking, rather than drunkenly walk in public where I got cited for my misdemeanors.

THIS WHOLE PROCESS MAKES NO SENSE TO ME. It seems completely arbitrary and, in my opinion, perpetuates the problems the bar is looking to solve. Can anyone relate or give me any advice? Thanks!


First, let me tell you that you're in much, much better shape than many here. I promise you that people who have been charged with DV don't get admitted, ever. Even if they weren't convicted. Just being charged is the end of it. I know this personally.

Your attorney told you to do 20 hours a week community service? For how long? Can you do 20 hours a week on top of your job and other responsibilities? Is your attorney in SF?

You'll almost certainly be called in for an informal conference. They're going to ask a lot of uncomfortable questions. Like the poster above said, they're trying to protect the public from you, even though if you were already admitted, you'd face far less scrutiny.

Pay particular attention to any police reports or witness statements. The Committee has them. Promise. And they'll ask about it. If you were in any way disrespectful to the police, you're in jeopardy. This whole process is demoralizing, especially when you've never been convicted of a fiduciary crime. Hang in there. When you're admitted, let us know.

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby AspiringLawyer8818 » Mon Mar 18, 2019 4:58 pm

Thank you both for your responses! I appreciate the insight. I do want to clarify by saying that my intent was not to minimize the extent of my transgressions or make excuses. My frustration really stems from the fact that I do not feel that my history is particularly exceptional. Most of my peers drank in the same manner as I did during college and I believe most students(or a significant portion of students) abuse alcohol during college. Unfortunately, I am the one that got caught. In some cases this was due to standing up for others, and in other cases I certainly displayed some attitude when dealing with the police. This was not out of spite or bitterness, but rather because I have always had an issue with those in positions of authority who abuse their power. In some part, this is what drove me to become an attorney. I'm sure many here who have had run-ins with the police can attest to this.

It just seems that the entire profession/committee has turned a blind eye to some very natural truths of development. A very very very significant portion of college students abuse alcohol and do stupid things during college. However, as people mature, they realize the error of their ways and change who they are and how they behave. I am proceeding with the programs as directed by my attorney, but am required to confess to my alcoholism or abuse issues. I have no problem with this course of action, but do think it is silly to admit these issues despite the fact that I only choose to have a glass of wine or beer with dinner these days.

In any event, I really appreciate the feedback.

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby AspiringLawyer8818 » Mon Mar 18, 2019 5:05 pm

Re: InterAlia1961

I apologize that I cannot figure out how to specifically respond to your post. But to answer your question, my attorney is based in LA and does expect 20 hours of community service a week in addition to my other obligations. While I am not currently employed, I am currently in the job market and seriously doubt my ability to meet this request. I doubt many employers will be thrilled to hire someone who frequently needs to address community service needs.

To some extent, I am re-considering the whole law thing and may aim to leverage my MBA for business-related jobs. This process has certainly left a sour taste in my mouth regarding the legal profession.

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby masonjarrr » Mon Mar 18, 2019 5:08 pm

It's already hard enough for someone who's a little older and experienced to go through the process of learning the law by going through a law school, and passing the bar exam. The fact that your entire life is under a microscope and F-ups in prior years can deny you the chances of becoming a lawyer after you've done everything up to that point must be ever so devastating. I can't even begin to imagine the frustration.

I had submitted my application last February and got the approval in about 6 months, while one of my buddies, who's a couple years older than I am, got his approval back in about 2 months. It's really weird how it works, but from these two instances, it just seems, the more places you've worked, the more things you've done in life, the longer it's going to take, even if everything about you is clean.

If you're 30, 40 or 50+, do they still ask you about everything since after 18? It really shouldn't be that way if that's the case.

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby rcharter1978 » Mon Mar 18, 2019 6:15 pm

AspiringLawyer8818 wrote:Thank you both for your responses! I appreciate the insight. I do want to clarify by saying that my intent was not to minimize the extent of my transgressions or make excuses. My frustration really stems from the fact that I do not feel that my history is particularly exceptional. Most of my peers drank in the same manner as I did during college and I believe most students(or a significant portion of students) abuse alcohol during college. Unfortunately, I am the one that got caught. In some cases this was due to standing up for others, and in other cases I certainly displayed some attitude when dealing with the police. This was not out of spite or bitterness, but rather because I have always had an issue with those in positions of authority who abuse their power. In some part, this is what drove me to become an attorney. I'm sure many here who have had run-ins with the police can attest to this.

It just seems that the entire profession/committee has turned a blind eye to some very natural truths of development. A very very very significant portion of college students abuse alcohol and do stupid things during college. However, as people mature, they realize the error of their ways and change who they are and how they behave. I am proceeding with the programs as directed by my attorney, but am required to confess to my alcoholism or abuse issues. I have no problem with this course of action, but do think it is silly to admit these issues despite the fact that I only choose to have a glass of wine or beer with dinner these days.

In any event, I really appreciate the feedback.


I'm don't mean to come off as a killjoy, but given the number of attorneys with substance abuse issues it doesn't seem unfair to ask, IMO. I'm glad you're following your attorneys advice and that they can see a path to success for you.

While most of this may have occurred in college, something happened almost 7 years ago which may make them think that it's not all fully in your collegiate past?

Did you, at any point, do some kind of program? Is the point of the alcohol dependence screening to show that you no longer need a program? I would have thought your college would have allowed you to do a program instead of booting you?

Interalia is right, it's much harder to disbar an attorney than it is to refuse an attorney admittance. I suspect there is a higher due process bar for taking away the right to practice from an admitted attorney so the best shot they have is in the background check process.

I know of an attorney who a) basically "short term loaned" himself client funds, b) was involved in a bar fight and had to miss an appearance and c) showed up drunk to court. AFAIK he is still an attorney. Or at least he still was after the unauthorized client loan.

While the community service is a pain, it may have a silver lining because if your community service is legal you may make valuable contacts. Since your c&f is up in the air it doesn't seem like you'd get too many legal job offers, so maybe it's not such a bad thing to expose yourself to new contacts in the legal world. And I feel like there has to be some weekend/after hours community service option. Volunteering and community service seemed silly to me, but multiple people have gotten their jobs by going that route.

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby worriedgrad » Sat Mar 23, 2019 12:59 pm

Hello, I posted this on another forum as well, but this discussion looks more helpful and active! Here's my issue:
I just submitted my moral character application and didn't disclose anything because the questions did not call for disclosure of the past issues I am concerned about. Here are the issues (all of which happened during law school - I know that's bad):

- driving on a suspended license (my license was only suspended for 2 weeks because I got a failure to appear for a speeding ticket after the speeding ticket was sent to a wrong address; I quickly worked everything out);
- an arrest for a suspected DUI, no charges brought because my BAC was below the legal limit (I have no other alcohol or drug related anything in my past);
- getting the police called on me for movie theater hopping (nothing happened, I just got kicked out but there might be a police report and I had attitude with the officer);
- $260k in student loans that I just recently started paying on (I didn't pay on them for a few years); also prior to law school, I had a few bills random bills sent to collections (like a pg&e bill and a doctor bill), but they are all current now; and my credit report shows multiple late payments over the years;
- and lastly, I procrastinated on submitting my moral character app for years (I graduated law school 5 years ago - not sure if that's something they would take into consideration.

Am I screwed? Anyone with similar issues? Any advice and experience appreciated.

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby FinallyPassedTheBar » Sat Mar 23, 2019 11:09 pm

worriedgrad wrote:Hello, I posted this on another forum as well, but this discussion looks more helpful and active! Here's my issue:
I just submitted my moral character application and didn't disclose anything because the questions did not call for disclosure of the past issues I am concerned about. Here are the issues (all of which happened during law school - I know that's bad):

- driving on a suspended license (my license was only suspended for 2 weeks because I got a failure to appear for a speeding ticket after the speeding ticket was sent to a wrong address; I quickly worked everything out);
- an arrest for a suspected DUI, no charges brought because my BAC was below the legal limit (I have no other alcohol or drug related anything in my past);
- getting the police called on me for movie theater hopping (nothing happened, I just got kicked out but there might be a police report and I had attitude with the officer);
- $260k in student loans that I just recently started paying on (I didn't pay on them for a few years); also prior to law school, I had a few bills random bills sent to collections (like a pg&e bill and a doctor bill), but they are all current now; and my credit report shows multiple late payments over the years;
- and lastly, I procrastinated on submitting my moral character app for years (I graduated law school 5 years ago - not sure if that's something they would take into consideration.

Am I screwed? Anyone with similar issues? Any advice and experience appreciated.



I am confused about your statement highlighted in red. The moral character application does ask about some of the issues you have discussed here.



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