Most states have some sort of application for bar admission. Some are called “moral character” and some are called just simply an application for admission. Regardless, they typically require you to compile massive amounts of information about your life (check out the New York application and the California application).
These forms are incredibly important (and typically time-consuming). But you must make sure they are accurate and truthful. The last thing you want is for your application to be flagged by the state bar to delay your admission (yes, this does actually happen). In addition, if you have anything of concern in your past that you are going to need to report, it may be wise to seek advice on how to report it to the state bar. And by of concern, I mean issues with a past arrest or even issues with credit or debts. If you have any doubts, you should seek guidance from an expert on reporting such issues.
So what is included in these admission applications?
Places you have lived.
States are going to ask you for past residence information from, often, the last 8 to 10 years. For many applicants this includes much of their 20s (which if you’re like me consisted of moving almost constantly!). Therefore, you want to start compiling past addresses to make sure you are reporting accurately. When I filled out my application, I went through old pay stubs (because I had paper files of things like that—wow, that makes me feel old). But you can also use online resources. For instance, Amazon.com remembers every address I have shipped something to. Or your parents may have some records of past residences. Or you can check your credit report. Remember, you can get creative when tracking down this information.
This is another really challenging one. Again, boy, was I glad that I had kept those past pay stubs! California requires you to report current and previous law-related employment from age 18 and current and previous employment, not law related, that lasted longer than 6 months. New York requires you to report on all employment since the age of 21. Are you starting to understand why you don’t want to leave this to the last minute? You have to compile massive amounts of information!
You may also be required to report on debt including school loans or other personal debts. So you want to collect that information as well.
Your state may require you to give personal references and some states require at least one member of the bar. Just like references for a job, you should ask your references first—to make sure they are comfortable with being contacted by the state bar. You also want to select people who will be sure to send back the paperwork promptly—in order not to delay your application.
At the end of the day, this application is something that should be taken very seriously.
Mistakes or omissions can get you off on the wrong foot with the state bar (and that is not something you want!). Take time to make sure your application is complete and turned in on time. Some applications take a long time to process. Turn in your application as soon as you can (many students turn it in during the first few months of their 3L year). Turning it in early will help make certain everything is in order so you can get licensed after you pass the bar exam!
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Studying for the MPRE? Check out our review of BarMax MPRE!
Check out these other 3L Bar Exam Tips!
- Get the MPRE Out of the Way!
- Know Your State Admission Requirements.
- Know Your Graduation Requirements and Sign-up for Bar Electives.
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