California Bar Moral Character Application

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rcharter1978

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby rcharter1978 » Tue Dec 03, 2019 4:07 pm

Left Waiting wrote:Hello,

I passed the California Bar Exam in 2015. I am coming up to the Bar pass expiration date. I have been denied twice by the Moral Character Committee. I had two erroneous credit cards on my credit report that I disputed and have since been removed. When I pulled my credit report for the first Moral Character Application, I discovered a judgment that I didn't even know was there. I disputed the judgment, and eventually got in contact with the collection firm's attorney to bring that matter to a close. I have no other marks on my record, outside of my student loans for law school, which I am on a payment plan for.

My question now is where do I go from here? From talking with others so far it seems like the reality is that I will likely have to take the Bar Exam again, and reapply in 2 years for the Moral Character Application. It previously took me three attempts to pass the Bar the first time, and it wasn't cheap. Law School in itself was a big sacrifice both financially, emotionally, and socially and this entire process has been a big strain on those same factors as well. It feels like I've spent the last now 5 years in this limbo and it has caused some irreparable damage.

Should I really submit myself and by proxy family and friends to this process again, if and when I am able to pass the bar? I guess one question I keep asking myself is do I really want this, which becomes a more daunting question the more time passes. I was hoping that with this process I would be able to get a more secured economic future, but so far the opposite has happened. Maybe I should invest in a different pursuit given that the current record has cost me so much already. Thanks for the read.

PS: I wish someone had been there to give me this advice, but I will leave it here based on my experience. My two cents: do a mock run of putting together your Moral Character Application well before submitting it.Try to avoid having to supplement your record in anyway. If you get invited to an informal hearing, attend and bring counsel. The administrative hearings have the potential to trip you up and it is better to have someone in your corner rather than face them alone. Bring copies of everything. If you get assigned a moral character investigator, plan on waiting and plan accordingly.


I'm going to come off like a broken record, but have you consulted a c&f attorney? I personally had no idea that the issues you described would result in a denial. Just goes to show that it can be a minefield.

As the poster above said, maybe you can appeal, but please talk to a c&f attorney.

Sadly, it sounds like you're kind of deep in the shit now, but the next avenues and steps you can take are probably best discussed with a c&f attorney who can give you an idea of your options, the cost of each option and an idea as to the likelihood of a positive outcome. No one can promise anything, but you would at least have a better idea of the options you have to weigh against each other.

Good luck. I mean it. I would say consider another jurisdiction but I've heard it's hard to get admitted by one jurisdiction if you've been denied in another (but maybe that's anecdotal)

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby Left Waiting » Tue Dec 03, 2019 5:42 pm

Thank you and no worries. I have consulted with an attorney after the fact and they were quite helpful in reviewing matters to this point.

Unfortunately they came to the same conclusion. An appeal would likely be denied and bar pass extension are rarely if ever granted. They've advised to get back in touch with them short 2 years from now and reapply with them as counsel and of course to try and pass the bar a second time.

Yes, it can definitely be an minefield, a pricey one at that physically, financially, and emotionally. I really wish I had known the breath of this before going to law school, but I guess I just didn't do my research. Live and learn and earn a student loan I guess. Thanks for the readm

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby Sobriquet44 » Tue Dec 03, 2019 6:01 pm

I don't understand, what would be different in two years?

Left Waiting wrote:Thank you and no worries. I have consulted with an attorney after the fact and they were quite helpful in reviewing matters to this point.

Unfortunately they came to the same conclusion. An appeal would likely be denied and bar pass extension are rarely if ever granted. They've advised to get back in touch with them short 2 years from now and reapply with them as counsel and of course to try and pass the bar a second time.

Yes, it can definitely be an minefield, a pricey one at that physically, financially, and emotionally. I really wish I had known the breath of this before going to law school, but I guess I just didn't do my research. Live and learn and earn a student loan I guess. Thanks for the readm

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby QContinuum » Tue Dec 03, 2019 7:21 pm

Left Waiting wrote:Hello,

I passed the California Bar Exam in 2015. I am coming up to the Bar pass expiration date. ... Should I really submit myself and by proxy family and friends to this process again, if and when I am able to pass the bar? I guess one question I keep asking myself is do I really want this, which becomes a more daunting question the more time passes. I was hoping that with this process I would be able to get a more secured economic future, but so far the opposite has happened. Maybe I should invest in a different pursuit given that the current record has cost me so much already. Thanks for the read.

From your post, it sounds like you have successfully resolved all of the issues that led to your two past C&F denials. It sounds like you were denied due to your two credit report issues (both now resolved), and the judgment issue (also now resolved). Now that these things are no longer issues, why do you think you wouldn't make it through C&F?

Further, although you've previously had difficulty passing the CBX, you ended up passing it in 2015. So why do you think you'd "regress"? You've mastered it once - you can do so again, as long as you prepare adequately and repeat your successful studying regimen leading up to the 2015 examination.

Also, why do you say you'd have to "reapply in 2 years for the Moral Character Application"? That doesn't make any sense to me (though, admittedly I'm not a C&F lawyer, just saying this from a "common sense" perspective). Was this a recommendation from your lawyer? And is your lawyer specifically an experienced CA C&F lawyer (as opposed to just a "general" CA lawyer, or even a CA lawyer with experience handling C&F in other jurisdictions)?

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby Moabit » Tue Dec 03, 2019 7:51 pm

QContinuum wrote:Also, why do you say you'd have to "reapply in 2 years for the Moral Character Application"? That doesn't make any sense to me (though, admittedly I'm not a C&F lawyer, just saying this from a "common sense" perspective). Was this a recommendation from your lawyer?


California Rule 4.49 New application following adverse determination of moral character

The State Bar may permit an applicant who has received an adverse moral character determination to file another Application for Determination of Moral Character two years from the date of the final determination or at some other time set by the State Bar, for
good cause shown, at the time of its adverse determination.

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby Sobriquet44 » Tue Dec 03, 2019 8:19 pm

I understand this rule. What I don't understand is when you have already been denied twice, why wait 2 years to appeal? It just seems like it would be the same issue 2 years from now, so you might as welll appeal.
Moabit wrote:
QContinuum wrote:Also, why do you say you'd have to "reapply in 2 years for the Moral Character Application"? That doesn't make any sense to me (though, admittedly I'm not a C&F lawyer, just saying this from a "common sense" perspective). Was this a recommendation from your lawyer?


California Rule 4.49 New application following adverse determination of moral character

The State Bar may permit an applicant who has received an adverse moral character determination to file another Application for Determination of Moral Character two years from the date of the final determination or at some other time set by the State Bar, for
good cause shown, at the time of its adverse determination.

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:36 pm

I’m pretty sure they are going to deny me, and I will never recover from that. All I can do is hope they offer me an abeyance and do a lawyers assistance program before clearing me!

Left Waiting

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby Left Waiting » Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:58 pm

Following up. I was told there was a process for reconsideration that the Moral Character Committee can exercise at their discretion.

The first time I was denied I tried to get reconsidered as I had resolved the debt/judgment issue(s) (or at least I thought I had resolved them.) In any event, my request was reviewed and denied reconsideration and I was told that I could re-apply in two years.

I waited the two years and re-applied. Provided the documentation of the issues being resolved. Much improved credit score, and, while modest, full time employment instead of part time or none at all, as I had previous trouble finding work.

The re-application like the first lasted several months. I was brought before the same Moral Character Investigator I had in my previous application. Another informal hearing was held, and I was denied subsequently via letter, just like the previous.

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 03, 2019 11:13 pm

QContinuum wrote:
Left Waiting wrote:Hello,

I passed the California Bar Exam in 2015. I am coming up to the Bar pass expiration date. ... Should I really submit myself and by proxy family and friends to this process again, if and when I am able to pass the bar? I guess one question I keep asking myself is do I really want this, which becomes a more daunting question the more time passes. I was hoping that with this process I would be able to get a more secured economic future, but so far the opposite has happened. Maybe I should invest in a different pursuit given that the current record has cost me so much already. Thanks for the read.

From your post, it sounds like you have successfully resolved all of the issues that led to your two past C&F denials. It sounds like you were denied due to your two credit report issues (both now resolved), and the judgment issue (also now resolved). Now that these things are no longer issues, why do you think you wouldn't make it through C&F?

Further, although you've previously had difficulty passing the CBX, you ended up passing it in 2015. So why do you think you'd "regress"? You've mastered it once - you can do so again, as long as you prepare adequately and repeat your successful studying regimen leading up to the 2015 examination.

Also, why do you say you'd have to "reapply in 2 years for the Moral Character Application"? That doesn't make any sense to me (though, admittedly I'm not a C&F lawyer, just saying this from a "common sense" perspective). Was this a recommendation from your lawyer? And is your lawyer specifically an experienced CA C&F lawyer (as opposed to just a "general" CA lawyer, or even a CA lawyer with experience handling C&F in other jurisdictions)?


I thought I would pass the second time through too. Everyone did, the issues flagged the first time through no longer existed. The lawyer I consulted after the fact said I really should have been represented and if I was I likely wouldn't be in this situation. I could barely even pay their retainer for this advice though at the time. A few the attorneys I did speak to including the one I retained either worked or had some connection/experience with the Bar.

I was told it would've helped if I had taken debt management classes and maybe done pro bono work (this came from agents I consulted not the committee themselves). I can see their concern might be mishandling of client funds, but 1) the judgment/debt was a one time issue I wasn't even aware of that was 2) over a decade ago. Additionally, I've already worked with classified documents even government contracts and client accounts for years and I've never done anything immoral with any of that.

In any event all I have now is a student loan for law school on my record, and a bar pass that expires next year.

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby Moabit » Wed Dec 04, 2019 12:06 am

Sobriquet44 wrote:I understand this rule.


I was responding to QContinuum who didn't.

Sobriquet44 wrote:What I don't understand is when you have already been denied twice, why wait 2 years to appeal? It just seems like it would be the same issue 2 years from now, so you might as welll appeal.


This question was answered by the person whose application was denied:
"I have consulted with an attorney after the fact and they were quite helpful in reviewing matters to this point. Unfortunately they came to the same conclusion. An appeal would likely be denied and bar pass extension are rarely if ever granted. They've advised to get back in touch with them short 2 years from now and reapply with them as counsel and of course to try and pass the bar a second time."

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby Sobriquet44 » Wed Dec 04, 2019 12:39 am

The attorney's advice is to retake the bar and reapply for moral character determination in two years again to most likely get denied on the same grounds for the third time?

Maybe get a second opinion.

Moabit wrote:
Sobriquet44 wrote:I understand this rule.


I was responding to QContinuum who didn't.

Sobriquet44 wrote:What I don't understand is when you have already been denied twice, why wait 2 years to appeal? It just seems like it would be the same issue 2 years from now, so you might as welll appeal.


This question was answered by the person whose application was denied:
"I have consulted with an attorney after the fact and they were quite helpful in reviewing matters to this point. Unfortunately they came to the same conclusion. An appeal would likely be denied and bar pass extension are rarely if ever granted. They've advised to get back in touch with them short 2 years from now and reapply with them as counsel and of course to try and pass the bar a second time."

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rcharter1978

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby rcharter1978 » Wed Dec 04, 2019 11:56 am

Sobriquet44 wrote:The attorney's advice is to retake the bar and reapply for moral character determination in two years again to most likely get denied on the same grounds for the third time?

Maybe get a second opinion.

Moabit wrote:
Sobriquet44 wrote:I understand this rule.


I was responding to QContinuum who didn't.

Sobriquet44 wrote:What I don't understand is when you have already been denied twice, why wait 2 years to appeal? It just seems like it would be the same issue 2 years from now, so you might as welll appeal.


This question was answered by the person whose application was denied:
"I have consulted with an attorney after the fact and they were quite helpful in reviewing matters to this point. Unfortunately they came to the same conclusion. An appeal would likely be denied and bar pass extension are rarely if ever granted. They've advised to get back in touch with them short 2 years from now and reapply with them as counsel and of course to try and pass the bar a second time."


I think it's more nuanced than that. It sounds like the OP had at least one fairly recent judgement that he was able to settle.

If it had just languished for a while without the OP taking care of it, it might start to look like the only reason OP took care of it was to be admitted to the bar.

Whatever negative character trait is inferred by having a judgment against you is not particularly resolved if you're just taking care of it solely to gain bar admission.

I think that if OP can steer clear of judgments and any other financial issues for the next two years than the committee may feel like the OPs judgment is a mere blip and not as relevant a factor in determining his fitness for the bar.

Personally, I had no idea that anything the OP described would be grounds for a denial, but I don't know how the conference went and I don't know why and if all judgments are held in the same light.

But, I can see where the judgment would be less probative in light of two years without any judgments or financial issues.

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby QContinuum » Wed Dec 04, 2019 1:26 pm

Sobriquet44 wrote:The attorney's advice is to retake the bar and reapply for moral character determination in two years again to most likely get denied on the same grounds for the third time?

Maybe get a second opinion.

Moabit wrote:
Sobriquet44 wrote:I understand this rule.


I was responding to QContinuum who didn't.

I meant to convey my gut sense that intentionally foregoing an appeal, waiting 2 years, then barking up the same tree again would not appear to be a wise/efficient course of action - again, though, just from a "common sense" perspective, based on the limited facts given to us, so obviously Anon should heed their C&F lawyer's advice over that of any TLSer. I realize my prior post wasn't clear and I regret any confusion.

I also second rcharter's sense that merely resolving a judgment so one can be admitted is not likely to be viewed particularly favorably by C&F investigators. Nor, for that matter, is a defense that one was unaware of a judgment likely to be viewed as particularly helpful (as cops always say, not knowing about a law isn't an excuse for breaking it). I can certainly see how debt management classes would help demonstrate an intent to take greater care going forward.

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby Sobriquet44 » Wed Dec 04, 2019 1:39 pm

Yes from a common sense stand point, I think it would look bad to reapply for a third time without having appealed the previous two denials. From my understanding the Bar is fairly conservative in it's approach and the best indicator of what would happen in 2 years is what happened twice before. But again, the concerned applicant knows his case better than we do and must have his reasons for not wanting to appeal. Just from the outside looking in, it's hard not to draw negative inferences.

QContinuum wrote:
Sobriquet44 wrote:The attorney's advice is to retake the bar and reapply for moral character determination in two years again to most likely get denied on the same grounds for the third time?

Maybe get a second opinion.

Moabit wrote:
Sobriquet44 wrote:I understand this rule.


I was responding to QContinuum who didn't.

I meant to convey my gut sense that intentionally foregoing an appeal, waiting 2 years, then barking up the same tree again would not appear to be a wise/efficient course of action - again, though, just from a "common sense" perspective, based on the limited facts given to us, so obviously Anon should heed their C&F lawyer's advice over that of any TLSer. I realize my prior post wasn't clear and I regret any confusion.

I also second rcharter's sense that merely resolving a judgment so one can be admitted is not likely to be viewed particularly favorably by C&F investigators. Nor, for that matter, is a defense that one was unaware of a judgment likely to be viewed as particularly helpful (as cops always say, not knowing about a law isn't an excuse for breaking it). I can certainly see how debt management classes would help demonstrate an intent to take greater care going forward.

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby Left Waiting » Wed Dec 04, 2019 3:04 pm

Sobriquet44 wrote:Yes from a common sense stand point, I think it would look bad to reapply for a third time without having appealed the previous two denials. From my understanding the Bar is fairly conservative in it's approach and the best indicator of what would happen in 2 years is what happened twice before. But again, the concerned applicant knows his case better than we do and must have his reasons for not wanting to appeal. Just from the outside looking in, it's hard not to draw negative inferences.

QContinuum wrote:
Sobriquet44 wrote:The attorney's advice is to retake the bar and reapply for moral character determination in two years again to most likely get denied on the same grounds for the third time?

Maybe get a second opinion.

Moabit wrote:
Sobriquet44 wrote:I understand this rule.


I was responding to QContinuum who didn't.

I meant to convey my gut sense that intentionally foregoing an appeal, waiting 2 years, then barking up the same tree again would not appear to be a wise/efficient course of action - again, though, just from a "common sense" perspective, based on the limited facts given to us, so obviously Anon should heed their C&F lawyer's advice over that of any TLSer. I realize my prior post wasn't clear and I regret any confusion.

I also second rcharter's sense that merely resolving a judgment so one can be admitted is not likely to be viewed particularly favorably by C&F investigators. Nor, for that matter, is a defense that one was unaware of a judgment likely to be viewed as particularly helpful (as cops always say, not knowing about a law isn't an excuse for breaking it). I can certainly see how debt management classes would help demonstrate an intent to take greater care going forward.


Hello, I did appeal the first action, but did not appeal the second. I was told by counsel that appealing the second action would likely be denied and was advised against it as it would simply look like I am attempting to say or do anything just to get admitted to the bar. Am I to understand that I should at least investigate the possibility of an appeal before my time expires to do so?

As for the informal conferences themselves, they were not good. The primary focus in each was the default judgment on which I was never served process. In the first I found out about the judgment during the application process. While I admit I should have done more diligence in reviewing my own financial affairs, it was something I entirely did not expect to find or knew about prior to the submission of the initial documents. The reject letter from the committee the first time didn't find that I was being untruthful; but that I was financial irresponsible.

I took that to mean that I needed to resolve and bring to conclusion any outstanding debt or judgment, whether or not I was aware of them, and that I needed to be more financially diligent. I had no problem with this and backtracked to find out about the judgment and the debt, which lead me to the counsel for the judgment creditor. We discussed the matter, and ended up settling for an amount that I paid.

Prior to that I also finally found stable full-time employment, rehabilitated my student loan for Law School, and got on a payment schedule of which to date I am still current. There are no other marks on my credit report other than this student loan. I went into the most recent informal hearing with all this information updated. So I was a bit surprised when I got assigned to the Investigator and was asked to attend another informal hearing, in which the same points were argued.

I was at this time also very tense as this process caused the failure of a relationship (literally was "tired of waiting with me for our life to start"), a missed job opportunity, etc. It wasn't easy, but it was my perspective on things (and no one else's fault but my own). So it didn't help when the Committee told me things that I knew could not be possible and argued with them over it, e.g. that my credit score had went down (I had submitted documents with my application showing it had gone up), that the debt was still at issue (when my credit score showed the judgment was gone, and I had provided the settlement documents and the payment record of the settlement paid for the judgment), and also that I had rehabilitated my student loan and was making current payments.

They had also asked whether or not I was working, when again I had provided my employer information in my resubmitted documents and was in my current employment for over a year by this time. There was an issue in the first informal hearing where the investigator did admit to not having time to update the application with information I had sent it, so it was also questioned if something similar had happened here. In short I was much more argumentative with them in the second hearing, instead of passive as I was in the first.

The next rejection letter the focus was that my rehabilitative efforts were found to be insufficient. This left me further confused and of course resentful. That's when I started to search for counsel on advice for next steps forward. I figured addressing/resolving the issues and moving on from them would be the best way to handle the situation. But I was wrong. After further investigation and inquiry it was suggested that I needed to show that this series of events, even though they took place over a decade ago, needed to be proven to never be possible from repeating. I needed to show remorse, and I needed to show ethical responses. I showed an evidentiary argument, conclusion, and technical answers.

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby Moabit » Wed Dec 04, 2019 4:24 pm

Left Waiting wrote:After further investigation and inquiry it was suggested that I needed to show that this series of events, even though they took place over a decade ago, needed to be proven to never be possible from repeating. I needed to show remorse, and I needed to show ethical responses. I showed an evidentiary argument, conclusion, and technical answers.

I have no advice, but I am sorry for all the BS they threw your way. Somehow the bar gatekeepers got into their heads that they have the powers to figure out what people actually think and how they might behave in the future. In this age of evidence-based everything, bar associations are looking increasingly ridiculous and outdated, especially in view of a lack of evidence that what they proclaim is anything but chutzpah. Unfortunately, they damage lives of people.

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby QContinuum » Wed Dec 04, 2019 4:26 pm

We don't know all the facts, nor are we CA C&F lawyers (let alone your lawyers), so I don't think any TLSer would want to tell you to go against your lawyer's advice. However, it may be worth getting a second opinion, if possible. Does your current C&F lawyer have past experience on the "other side", i.e., handling C&F for the CA Bar?

It does occur to me, from a common-sense perspective, that your tense/hostile attitude likely harmed your prospects the second time around. No Bar wants to admit lawyers with (what they consider to be) anger management issues. However stressful and even unfair the admissions process can be, they expect applicants to keep their cool and be professional and respectful. Yes, you can (and should!) rebut factual assertions that you know to be untrue, but getting testy with them whilst doing so is not the answer. (It's like a job interview in a sense; you're assumed and expected to put your best foot forward in front of the Bar.)

I will also say that it is extremely common in any jurisdiction for the Bar to ask redundant questions or make redundant requests. You should not take this as a personal affront, or as the Bar being passive-aggressive. (The Bar doesn't need to be passive-aggressive, it can simply be aggressive when it wants to be.) Unfortunately the Bar simply cares much less than applicants do about whether/when any particular applicant is admitted, or how much bureaucracy they put applicants through.

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby Sobriquet44 » Wed Dec 04, 2019 4:54 pm

I am not an attorney, and I cannot pretend to advise you on what to do in this situation. I understand that it is very stressful and emphatize with you. What I did notice however, is in your prior post you said that you sent a letter to reconsider to the bar on your first denial, and they refused to reconsider. Now you are saying that you did appeal. So I'm a bit confused as to whether you went to state bar court?


Left Waiting wrote:
Sobriquet44 wrote:Yes from a common sense stand point, I think it would look bad to reapply for a third time without having appealed the previous two denials. From my understanding the Bar is fairly conservative in it's approach and the best indicator of what would happen in 2 years is what happened twice before. But again, the concerned applicant knows his case better than we do and must have his reasons for not wanting to appeal. Just from the outside looking in, it's hard not to draw negative inferences.

QContinuum wrote:
Sobriquet44 wrote:The attorney's advice is to retake the bar and reapply for moral character determination in two years again to most likely get denied on the same grounds for the third time?

Maybe get a second opinion.

Moabit wrote:
Sobriquet44 wrote:I understand this rule.


I was responding to QContinuum who didn't.

I meant to convey my gut sense that intentionally foregoing an appeal, waiting 2 years, then barking up the same tree again would not appear to be a wise/efficient course of action - again, though, just from a "common sense" perspective, based on the limited facts given to us, so obviously Anon should heed their C&F lawyer's advice over that of any TLSer. I realize my prior post wasn't clear and I regret any confusion.

I also second rcharter's sense that merely resolving a judgment so one can be admitted is not likely to be viewed particularly favorably by C&F investigators. Nor, for that matter, is a defense that one was unaware of a judgment likely to be viewed as particularly helpful (as cops always say, not knowing about a law isn't an excuse for breaking it). I can certainly see how debt management classes would help demonstrate an intent to take greater care going forward.


Hello, I did appeal the first action, but did not appeal the second. I was told by counsel that appealing the second action would likely be denied and was advised against it as it would simply look like I am attempting to say or do anything just to get admitted to the bar. Am I to understand that I should at least investigate the possibility of an appeal before my time expires to do so?

As for the informal conferences themselves, they were not good. The primary focus in each was the default judgment on which I was never served process. In the first I found out about the judgment during the application process. While I admit I should have done more diligence in reviewing my own financial affairs, it was something I entirely did not expect to find or knew about prior to the submission of the initial documents. The reject letter from the committee the first time didn't find that I was being untruthful; but that I was financial irresponsible.

I took that to mean that I needed to resolve and bring to conclusion any outstanding debt or judgment, whether or not I was aware of them, and that I needed to be more financially diligent. I had no problem with this and backtracked to find out about the judgment and the debt, which lead me to the counsel for the judgment creditor. We discussed the matter, and ended up settling for an amount that I paid.

Prior to that I also finally found stable full-time employment, rehabilitated my student loan for Law School, and got on a payment schedule of which to date I am still current. There are no other marks on my credit report other than this student loan. I went into the most recent informal hearing with all this information updated. So I was a bit surprised when I got assigned to the Investigator and was asked to attend another informal hearing, in which the same points were argued.

I was at this time also very tense as this process caused the failure of a relationship (literally was "tired of waiting with me for our life to start"), a missed job opportunity, etc. It wasn't easy, but it was my perspective on things (and no one else's fault but my own). So it didn't help when the Committee told me things that I knew could not be possible and argued with them over it, e.g. that my credit score had went down (I had submitted documents with my application showing it had gone up), that the debt was still at issue (when my credit score showed the judgment was gone, and I had provided the settlement documents and the payment record of the settlement paid for the judgment), and also that I had rehabilitated my student loan and was making current payments.

They had also asked whether or not I was working, when again I had provided my employer information in my resubmitted documents and was in my current employment for over a year by this time. There was an issue in the first informal hearing where the investigator did admit to not having time to update the application with information I had sent it, so it was also questioned if something similar had happened here. In short I was much more argumentative with them in the second hearing, instead of passive as I was in the first.

The next rejection letter the focus was that my rehabilitative efforts were found to be insufficient. This left me further confused and of course resentful. That's when I started to search for counsel on advice for next steps forward. I figured addressing/resolving the issues and moving on from them would be the best way to handle the situation. But I was wrong. After further investigation and inquiry it was suggested that I needed to show that this series of events, even though they took place over a decade ago, needed to be proven to never be possible from repeating. I needed to show remorse, and I needed to show ethical responses. I showed an evidentiary argument, conclusion, and technical answers.

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rcharter1978

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby rcharter1978 » Wed Dec 04, 2019 6:38 pm

OP could appeal, but to what end? The bar says he hasn't done enough to show rehabilitation. That seems like a subjective determination.

If it's like a lot of other adjudicative bodies, the subjective determination will likely be upheld unless there was an error of law or the facts were such that no reasonable person could come to the same conclusion.

And I'm not sure if the appeal will look like OP minimizing his behavior.... especially if he writes it himself.

And while I don't know if a recording is made of the conference or if notes or minutes are taken, if such things exist and the OP was frustrated and a little combative, I don't think that's going to read well for appeal.

It is natural for people who don't have bad intentions to not see these issues as a huge deal because they know they are a good and honest person.

Had I written my own letter upon getting a C&F inquiry, I probably would have been in the same boat, because I just didn't think the issue was a big deal. It learned that it was a big deal.

I think if an experienced C&F attorney saw an opportunity there, they would take OPs case. The fact that an attorney, against their self interest, would advise the OP not to appeal, but to make rehabilitative efforts and wait two years, makes it seem like pretty honest advice.

I know that when I consulted with a c&f attorney, she made it clear that the price went up at every progressive step in the process. So at this point the attorney could probably charge the highest amount.

So, maybe seeking a second opinion will net different results and someone else will know better. A second opinion isn't going to hurt....but I tend to trust people who work against their self-interest.

I really hope it works out. I think you should do what the attorney says. Take the debt classes, which will not only show that you have the substantive knowledge from the class but that you also recognize how serious the issue is. Keep your credit rosy, avoid judgments, work with the attorney next time and prepare for next July's bar or next February bar. You will at least be four years removed from t the judgment at that point.

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby QContinuum » Wed Dec 04, 2019 6:55 pm

I don't know what the standard of review is in CA State Bar Court. Since the initial determination is made after an "informal" conference, it is possible that there is a more lenient standard of review on appeal (technically the first "formal" proceeding) than "clear error". In any case, we shouldn't just race to assume that there's a "clear error" standard of review. This is part of what Anon's C&F lawyer should consider, and part of what I would encourage Anon to discuss with their lawyer.

If the standard of review allows for a reasonable likelihood of success, then an appeal could, potentially, be quite beneficial. For one thing, Anon's counsel on appeal would potentially be able to paint a much more compelling picture of Anon's rehabilitation than Anon did on their own in the "informal" conference, where they admitted to being prickly and impatient. Of course the facts are the facts, but skilled advocacy can be hugely important when it comes to weaving a coherent narrative and making sure all of the key facts are brought to the decisionmaker's attention. And advocacy, done right, need not look like "minimizing" one's behavior. To the contrary, it would seem helpful to Anon to come across as candid and fully accepting of their past issues and shortfalls. On a similar note, Anon's performance in the "informal" conference may (I don't know) be held against them on appeal, but this still seems like something experienced counsel could help address. And in any case, sometimes transcripts can actually make one look better (admittedly, other times they can make one look worse). Transcripts don't typically tend to record things like body language or tone, for instance, so a sharper tone or body language suggesting impatience would likely not make it into a transcript.

Of course Anon should absolutely not handle the appeal pro se.

Again, all of the above are "common sense" observations, not made by a C&F lawyer, and made on the basis of limited, anonymized facts, and so when it comes down to it Anon should absolutely rely on their C&F lawyer's advice.

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rcharter1978

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby rcharter1978 » Wed Dec 04, 2019 7:15 pm

QContinuum wrote:I don't know what the standard of review is in CA State Bar Court. Since the initial determination is made after an "informal" conference, it is possible that there is a more lenient standard of review on appeal (technically the first "formal" proceeding) than "clear error". In any case, we shouldn't just race to assume that there's a "clear error" standard of review. This is part of what Anon's C&F lawyer should consider, and part of what I would encourage Anon to discuss with their lawyer.

If the standard of review allows for a reasonable likelihood of success, then an appeal could, potentially, be quite beneficial. For one thing, Anon's counsel on appeal would potentially be able to paint a much more compelling picture of Anon's rehabilitation than Anon did on their own in the "informal" conference, where they admitted to being prickly and impatient. Of course the facts are the facts, but skilled advocacy can be hugely important when it comes to weaving a coherent narrative and making sure all of the key facts are brought to the decisionmaker's attention. And advocacy, done right, need not look like "minimizing" one's behavior. To the contrary, it would seem helpful to Anon to come across as candid and fully accepting of their past issues and shortfalls. On a similar note, Anon's performance in the "informal" conference may (I don't know) be held against them on appeal, but this still seems like something experienced counsel could help address. And in any case, sometimes transcripts can actually make one look better (admittedly, other times they can make one look worse). Transcripts don't typically tend to record things like body language or tone, for instance, so a sharper tone or body language suggesting impatience would likely not make it into a transcript.

Of course Anon should absolutely not handle the appeal pro se.

Again, all of the above are "common sense" observations, not made by a C&F lawyer, and made on the basis of limited, anonymized facts, and so when it comes down to it Anon should absolutely rely on their C&F lawyer's advice.


I see your point, and it's totally possible that a good and experienced C&F attorney could turn this around.

From my reading (skimming?) it didn't seem like OP did much rehabilitation besides coming to an agreement with opposing counsel to get the judgment off his record after he started the C&F process.

But, maybe that can be persuasively argued as doing enough. Perhaps when combined with other efforts OP made to improve his credit score.

And you're also 100% correct that I don't know the standard of review for an appeal.

You're right that it's worth OPs time to get a second opinion, and if there is conflict maybe a third. Perhaps the ship can be righted at this point ...I think that would be great news.

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby QContinuum » Wed Dec 04, 2019 8:25 pm

rcharter1978 wrote:You're right that it's worth OPs time to get a second opinion, and if there is conflict maybe a third. Perhaps the ship can be righted at this point ...I think that would be great news.

Thanks, rcharter, and FWIW I want to clarify that I also think you are right in saying it's likely a (steep) uphill climb trying to right the ship at this point. Even if the State Bar Court reviews de novo on appeal with zero deference to the informal conference's findings, as you point out Anon's prior uncounseled statements to the Bar will likely be introduced and may harm them, perhaps beyond the ability of counsel to overcome.

Anyway, agree that it's worth a second opinion, and possibly a third tiebreaker opinion if the first and second lawyers split strongly on Anon's chances on appeal. But I wanted to make sure to qualify my previous post, which may have come across as overly bullish.

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby dbolous » Wed Dec 04, 2019 10:36 pm

Hello,

I am currently getting ready to take the LSAT. But I am very concerned about the moral fitness. I have a dine and dash case that got dismissed two years ago. I also got sued by the state of California for running an marijuana dispensary. However, the case the never end up going to trial. It was mostly a scare tactic to shut us down.

Should I be concerned about the moral fitness application. These are my only two incidents and potential red flags.

Left Waiting

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby Left Waiting » Thu Dec 05, 2019 8:47 am

Hello, thanks for the advice and discussion. To clarify, after the first determination I did appeal, but withdrew the appeal, when State Bar Counsel and the judge at the case management conference, recommended a letter of reconsideration (which I didn't know was possible at the time, but State Bar Counsel, explained the exception I noted in a previous post).

I went forward with the reconsideration request, which did not work, and waited the two years. During that time I 1) worked and improved the credit score, 2) disputed and removed the erroneous credit card, 3) followed up on the judgment/debt and settled that issue ( 4)I also got full-time employment which allowed me to rehabilitate my law school student loan and thereafter make regular payments monthly).

On the second denial, which stated that the rehabilitation was insufficient, I reached out to various sources to get more information on why my efforts were insufficient (some of these references were attorney's who had experience with the Moral Character Application process and had represented clients in this process before.) I eventually did retain one of these attorneys who reviewed the two denial letters, the transcripts and the filings, and provided the guidance I laid out in the previous post.

They do not think that an appeal at this time wouldn't be beneficial as the chance of success would be very low, given that the Moral Character Committee would likely see my attempt at a request for reconsideration/appeal as just any attempt to get pass without any sufficient reflection (I was informed that the appeal/reconsideration process were the same because of recent changes, but I am not sure. Nevertheless I took all their advice to heart.)

My biggest mistake was being combative with the administrators this time around when they presented facts that I knew were in my file, and provided for them documents that clearly showed the contrary. It was my mistake in misinterpreting their intent, and I could not see their perspective or reason behind doing that. As a result I was argumentative in this second informal hearing, which is why the attorney I talked to this time says I really should have been represented.

Given the explanation now and what the previous poster said, I was wrong in my understanding (since this is something they do even when they have the documents.) My interpretation of those actions at the time, was that they were trying to malign me for some reason. That was my mistake. I needed to find a better way to address the statements the Committee presented that I knew, and the record showed, were incorrect. Still though the attorney I consulted with thinks the second hearing went much better compared to the first, in which I was much more passive with the Committee.

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Re: California Bar Moral Character Application

Postby yespasscbx » Thu Dec 05, 2019 10:58 am

Moral Character Determination - Decisional Matrices
http://board.calbar.ca.gov/Agenda.aspx?id=15400&tid=0&show=100023476#10031177
Although it's claimed to be a DRAFT, I guess it's more or less a summary of the current practice.



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