Character and Fitness

U.S. jurisdictions require bar candidates to prove that they have good character and fitness before they are barred. This process is said to be a gatekeeping device in order to protect the public from incompetent attorneys. All U.S. jurisdictions require bar candidates to undergo a Character and Fitness evaluation before being admitted. 

Every jurisdiction has its own Character and Fitness application process that candidates must satisfy but in general, candidates are expected to provide their civil and criminal violations, references that can attest to the candidate’s moral character, employment history, address history, academic history including whether the student was ever penalized for violating the honor code, and financial history, such as unpaid credit card debt. This is the same information people have to provide to law schools when submitting law school applications for admission. The bar admissions board will compare the information listed on their Character and Fitness application to the information the candidate disclosed on their law school application to check for consistency. 

In addition to filling out a Character and Fitness application, some candidates will also have to interview with the bar admissions board about their background. 

[Last updated in June of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]