Wednesday, November 2, 2022
David L. Hudson, Jr. (Belmont) & Andrea Gemignani (Belmont), The Other Bar Hurdle: An Examination of the Character and Fitness Requirement for Bar Admission, 48 Mitchell Hamline L. Rev. 500 (2022):
Character screening is an endemic part of the lawyer licensing process, as it has been for a long time. Some form of screening is necessary, as lawyers are officers of the court and fiduciaries with whom people repose a great deal of trust with their most intractable and important problems. But the process should be revamped to ensure it is fair and equitable. Any remaining vestiges of discrimination, whether against racial minorities or individuals with disabilities, must be eliminated. State bars and courts should continue to move toward awareness of social science research to determine appropriate evidence and factors for consideration in evaluating current moral character. Alternatives, such as an expansion of conditional admission or law student residency programs that focus on current fitness rather than past conduct, should be considered.
In many instances, people who have made mistakes should not pay for those mistakes forever. Sometimes, people fall on hard financial times. A bad credit history should not necessarily preclude someone from becoming an attorney. Furthermore, a criminal conviction should not doom a person forever, provided they present credible evidence of rehabilitation and good acts. People should be given the benefit of the doubt when they present credible evidence that they have turned their lives around, without needing to perform remorse. There is always the possibility of human redemption.