Any person seeking admission to the Louisiana Bar shall apply to the Committee on Bar Admissions AND shall request that the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) prepare a character report.
The primary purpose of the character and fitness screening is to assure the protection of the public and to safeguard the
administration of justice. The good moral character and fitness standards require that an applicant to the bar be one whose
record of conduct justifies the trust of clients, adversaries, courts and others with respect to the professional duties owed
to them. An applicant whose record shows a deficiency in honesty, trustworthiness, diligence or reliability may not be recommended for admission.
Character and fitness determinations are made by the Committee’s Panel on Character and Fitness. The Panel consists of the Director of Character and Fitness and two other members of the Committee.
Factors and Considerations
The Panel may consider any factor or circumstance, including but not limited to:
- Arrests or criminal charges, whether or not resulting in a conviction.
- Any unlawful conduct.
- Making or procuring any false or misleading statement or omission of relevant information including any false or misleading statement or omission during the application process for admission to the Bar of this state or any other state.
- Misconduct in employment.
- Acts involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.
- Commission of an act constituting the unauthorized practice of law.
- Violation of the honor code of the applicant's law school or any other academic misconduct, including undergraduate misconduct.
- Membership in an organization which advocates that the United States Government be overthrown by force, if the applicant indicates a present intent that such be done.
- Abuse of process.
- Neglect of financial responsibilities.
- Neglect of professional obligations.
- Violation of an order of a Court, including child support orders.
- Military misconduct.
- Evidence of mental or emotional instability.
- Evidence of drug or alcohol misuse, abuse or dependency.
- Denial of admission to the Bar in any other jurisdiction on character and/or fitness grounds.
- Disciplinary action by a lawyer disciplinary agency of any jurisdiction.
- Disciplinary action by a disciplinary agency or governing body of a profession or organization of which the applicant is or was a member.
- Conduct of a kind which has been considered by the Court as grounds for suspension or revocation of the privilege to practice law in Louisiana.
- Conviction or a plea of guilty or “no contest” to any misdemeanor or felony, including juvenile proceedings.
- Any other conduct which reflects adversely upon the character or fitness of the applicant.
Weighing Prior Conduct
The Panel may consider the following factors in assigning weight and significance to prior conduct:
- The applicant's age at the time of the conduct.
- The amount of time which has elapsed since the occurrence of such conduct.
- The reliability of the information concerning the conduct.
- The seriousness of the conduct.
- The factors underlying the conduct.
- The cumulative effect of the conduct or information.
- The applicant's positive social contributions since the conduct.
- The applicant's candor and cooperation in the admissions process.
- The materiality of any omissions or misrepresentations.
- The evidence of rehabilitation.
Time Required to Make Determination
How long it takes the Committee to render a character and fitness determination depends on many factors which may include, among others: When your application was submitted to the NCBE; how long it takes for the NCBE to receive responses and verifications which comprise its preliminary investigation; and whether the Committee determines further inquiry is necessary.
Applicants ARE allowed to sit for the bar exam if their character and fitness application is still pending before the Committee.
Updates to Information Submitted
If your application is still being processed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners, you should provide updates to the NCBE along with relevant documentation using the NCBE's online interface. If your application has already been processed by the NCBE, you should forward updates in writing to the Committee. Please contact the Committee's Character and Fitness Department for assistance.
National Conference of Bar Examiners
Bar applicants must complete a character report from the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) in order to seek admission to practice law in Louisiana. The investigation process starts for Louisiana law students during their second year of law school. The process continues as the applicant enters his/her third year by filing a Supplemental character report.
Applicants applying for the first time must also complete a Request for Preparation of Character Report through the NCBE.
Once a preliminary NCBE report is returned to the LASCBA, our Panel will review the results and determine if further inquiry is necessary.
After the applicant completes the online portion of the Request for Preparation of a Character Report in accordance with the directions provided by the NCBE; mailing and/or submission instructions will display in a completion checklist after the online character application is finalized.
NCBE Online Request for the Preparation of Character Report
IMPORTANT! Applications cannot be considered on-time or complete without notice of a submission of the request for the Preparation of Character Report from the NCBE. Failure to do so for Bar Exam applications may lead to late fees and possibily the inability to sit.
It is the applicant's responsibility to keep information up-to-date and to file amendments as necessary should there be changes in address, employment, name, violations or other pertinant information.
Character & Fitness: FAQs
Am I required to participate in law student registration?
Pursuant to Louisiana Supreme Court Rule XVII Section 4 (A), every prospective applicant for admission to the Bar of this State who is enrolled in one of the ABA accredited law schools located in Louisiana is required to participate in the Law Student Registration Program.
What happens if I do not participate in law student registration?
If you attended an ABA accredited law school in Louisiana but did not participate in law student registration, you will be required to pay a late fee at the time you submit your application to sit for the bar examination. Furthermore, the processing of your Character and Fitness Application will be delayed.
Am I required to disclose expunged arrests/charges?
Yes. You must disclose all citations, arrests, charges, convictions of any alcohol or drug related traffic violation and/or any violation of any law, other than cases resolved in juvenile court. You are required to include all matters that have been dismissed, expunged, diverted, deferred or otherwise set aside.
Will my criminal history prevent me from sitting for the bar examination or from being admitted?
It depends. The Committee’s determination will be based on the totality of the circumstances pertaining to the individual applicant.
Am I required to submit to a criminal background check?
In addition to responding to NCBE questions pertaining to your criminal history, bar examination applicants, (not law student registrants) are required to submit to a criminal background check. The instructions and forms are provided as part of the NCBE’s character and fitness application.
Is there a deadline to submit to the criminal background check?
In order to avoid delays in being certified for admission you should submit to the criminal background check at least 6 weeks prior to the examination.
Am I required to disclose parking tickets?
Should camera tickets be disclosed?
What should I do if I can’t remember all my speeding tickets or the details of the tickets?
You should make every effort to obtain an accurate report from the appropriate law enforcement agenc(ies) of your driving history and report same. In any case, you should provide as much information as possible. If necessary, you may attach an addendum to the corresponding NCBE form with your written response.
If I receive a notice of adverse preliminary determination, am I required to do anything?
A notice of adverse preliminary determination means that your law student registration application and or other information obtained by the Committee reveals certain information reflecting adversely on your moral character and fitness. Within 30 days of receipt of the notice, you may submit a written response to the adverse information received by the Committee. Please see La. Sup. Ct. Rule XVII, Sec. 4(B).
Will a notice of adverse preliminary determination prevent me from sitting for the bar examination or from being admitted?
Not necessarily. The adverse preliminary determination letter informs that the Committee has obtained certain information that reflects adversely on your good moral character and fitness, invites you to respond and provides an opportunity for you to address any concerns the Committee may have. A final determination as to whether the Committee will certify you for admission will be made at the time you apply to sit for the bar examination. If you are able to adequately address the concerns of the Committee, you will not be prevented from sitting for the bar exam or from being admitted.
If the Committee determines it will not certify me to the Court for admission, what, if anything, can I do?
If you receive a Notice of Failure to Meet Requirements, pursuant to Rule XVII Section 5 (L), you may file a petition with the Louisiana Supreme Court within thirty (30) days from the date of the Notification of Failure to Meet Requirements. (You should refer to the Louisiana Supreme Court Rules of Court concerning the form and required copies to be filed with the Clerk’s office).
What is the filing fee to file a petition with the Court?
What happens if following the Committee’s refusal to certify me for admission, I fail to petition the Court within the prescribed deadline?
You will be precluded from seeking admission for a period of one year.
What is the most common reason for denial of a bar applicant?
Applicants who engage in a pattern of dishonesty in dealings with employers, schools, and authorities, including the Committee on Bar Admissions, is the most frequent reason for denial of admission. Providing false information on the application or failing to be entirely forthcoming and completely candid in the application process involves conduct which may have negative consequences for an applicant. In addition, applicants who fail to be fully responsive to application questions, or who fail to cooperate with the Committee’s investigation may also be denied admission.