Bar Admission Process Missouri Supreme Court Board of Law Examiners 407 Jefferson Street, Jefferson City, MO 65101 (573) 751-9814 firstname.lastname@example.org www.mble.org
Missouri Supreme Court The Court regulates the legal profession, including admission to the bar. Supreme Court Rule 8 was adopted by the Court to govern the admission process. The Court created and authorized the Board of Law Examiners to oversee the process.
Board of Law Examiners Six Missouri attorneys appointed by the Court for a 6-year term. Board certifies to the Court that you have met the requirements for admission and the Court issues your license. If the Board denies your application, you can seek review by the Court of the Board’s decision.
Rule 8.03, Requirements for Admission Must comply with all provisions set out in Rule 8; File all application forms required by the Board and pay required fees; Pass the Missouri bar examination and the MPRE; Receive approval of the Board as to eligibility and character and fitness.
How does Board determine your character and fitness Detailed application and thorough background investigation. You bear the burden of proof. Look at the “big picture” of how you conduct yourself based on the info in your application and our investigation. Occasionally, required to appear before the Board for a hearing.
Application for Character and Fitness Report Law students are encouraged to file the C&F Application during first or second year of law school - before third year. If you don’t file the C&F Application in your first or second year, you must wait and file it concurrently with the Application for Bar Examination in your final semester.
Why file Character & Fitness Application now? Get the Board’s preliminary determination. Time to work through any C&F concerns. Escalating fee - the sooner you file, the less you pay. Postmark by October 1 for lowest fee of $200. Review the Fee Schedule on the web. Avoid $50 fee for Rule 13 certification when you enroll in a clinic.
The C&F Application does NOT register you to take the bar exam - separate Application for Bar Examination. File the Application for Bar Exam in your final semester of law school. Non-refundable fee. If you don’t apply to take MO bar exam or drop out of law school, there is no refund of fees. Only Part of the Process
What is Character and Fitness? Honesty, integrity, trustworthiness; Respect for the law and Code of Professional Responsibility; Diligence & reliability; Ability to comply with deadlines; Respect for the rights and welfare of others;
Demonstrate sound judgment; Capacity to learn, recall what you’ve learned, reason and analyze; Ability to communicate clearly with clients, attorneys, courts and others. What is Character and Fitness - continued
Factors indicating a lack of character and fitness Unlawful conduct; Failure to disclose or lack of candor in application or during investigation; Academic or other misconduct at an educational institution; Misconduct in employment; Acts of dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;
Factors - continued Financial irresponsibility; Lack of respect for legal system; A condition or disorder that currently impairs your behavior, judgment, understanding, capacity to recognize reality, ability to function in school, work or other life activities, or ability to practice law in a competent and professional manner.
Weight and Significance Your age at time; recency of conduct; seriousness of conduct; surrounding circumstances; reliability of information; your candor in disclosing; do you accept responsibility for your acts; evidence of rehabilitation; positive social contributions since the conduct.
The Board looks at your past to predict your future conduct. Has the problem conduct ended? Has your life changed in ways that suggest that similar conduct is not likely to recur? Your Current Character & Fitness
Rule 8.04 Ineligibility If you have plead guilty or no contest to or been found guilty of a felony, you’re ineligible until 5 years AFTER you complete any sentence or probation. Includes suspended imposition of sentence (SIS). Per se disqualification to file an application for admission - Board has no discretion.
Other Criminal Conduct The Board inquires into all areas of MISCONDUCT. Acquittal or dismissal is relevant but is not dispositive of the issue for the Board. The more detailed explanation you give in your application, the better. Attach the police narrative report to your application.
Academic or Other Misconduct in School Honor code violations are a common reason for Board to issue a denial. Includes academic and nonacademic grounds for discipline. Disclose regardless of whether record has been expunged, canceled, annulled, or no record was made.
Employment Misconduct We ask if you’ve ever been fired, asked to resign, allowed to resign in lieu of invol. discharge from ANY employment. We ask if you’ve ever been formally investigated, reprimanded, disciplined, or suspended by an employer or supervisor. Disclose even if you disagree with employer’s version of events. Employer will tell us so make sure you disclose.
Respect for law & Code of Professional Responsibility Appear for court dates; do not repeatedly violate traffic laws; do not file frivolous law suits; do not disregard court orders. Demonstrate respect and professionalism in the application and admission process; Respond promptly and fully to inquiries from Board and staff on Board’s behalf.
Fitness Condition or disorder that impairs your behavior, judgment, ability to function, i.e., your ability to practice law. The Board views positively those who recognize need for and seek treatment and are compliant with treatment. Evidence of an untreated or uncontrolled condition is of concern.
The application is filed under oath with the Missouri Supreme Court. Don’t create an issue for yourself by failing to disclose information in the application or during the investigation. Lack of candor and honesty is the most common ground for denial. Lack of Candor
Obligation to Update File written Update Form to notify Board of any change to any information provided or sought in the application. Do NOT wait until the matter is resolved to file an Update Form.
You will be notified of the Board’s decision by letter when your background investigation is done. Make sure we have your current address. Rule 8.11(e) - approval is not permanent and binding. Continue to update following approval. Approval