Bar Admission Information
American Bar Association Character and Fitness Statement
All applicants must complete an Emory University School of Law application through the Law School Admission Council. Answer each question honestly and completely. Failure to do so may result in the denial or revocation of your admission, suspension or dismissal after matriculation, withdrawal of certification of graduation or revocation of your degree.
If you have been convicted of offenses other than minor traffic violations or if you withhold required information on this application, you may have difficulty gaining Bar admission. State bar organizations often require that you include your law school application as part of your Bar admission application. Accordingly, your answers in your Emory Law application relating to these matters often will be part of your record. As each state bar has specific admission requirements, you should review the requirements for the state in which you intend to practice.
Excluding minor traffic offenses, you must disclose each instance prior to or after your matriculation at Emory Law if admitted even though the charges may have been dismissed or you were acquitted or allowed to plead nolo contendere or an adjudication was withheld or a conviction was reversed, set aside or vacated, or the record sealed or expunged, and regardless of whether you have been told you need not disclose any such instance.
We reserve the right to rescind an offer of admission even after enrollment if any requested information is incomplete or inaccurate.
Did you know...
Before you are admitted to any state’s bar and get your license to practice law, you must be approved by the bar’s committee on character and fitness. In many states, like Georgia, you must be approved before you can take the bar exam.
You will be required to answer questions relating to your honesty, fiscal responsibility, compliance with court orders, record of criminal activity, mental and emotional stability, and any misuse of alcohol and controlled substances, including prescription medications.
Examples of conduct the bar may view as grounds to deny certification:
- intentional failure to file tax returns
- non-compliance with court orders, including orders of child support and summonses to appear in court or serve on a jury
- commission of a felony, including the misuse or wrongful distribution of prescription medications as well as street drugs
- failure to repay student loans or other debts
- a pattern of traffic tickets or DUI arrests
- any theft or fraud, e.g. shoplifting or credit card misuse
- academic plagiarism or misconduct
- series of misdemeanor arrests
- repeated frivolous litigation
- statements disparaging or threatening the rights or safety of others, or showing disrespect for the law or courts
- failure to acknowledge and get treatment for addiction or substance abuse
- discrepancies between the disclosures made to the bar and other documents or records (i.e., lack of candor)
The burden of proof is on the applicant, who must establish and document his or her current good character and fitness to practice law.
The most common reason for denial of a bar applicant in Georgia is:
“A pattern of dishonesty in dealings with employers, schools, and authorities, including the Office of Bar Admissions.”
The bar committee will scrutinize documents that usually include: your law school application; your work history; your credit reports; your driving record; the disposition of any kind of civil lawsuit involving you; any criminal record, including juvenile and expunged records.
In Georgia, any applicant who has been convicted of a DUI charge or its equivalent is ineligible to be certified by the character and fitness committee for at least twelve (12) months after the date of conviction.
Substance abuse is most prevalent on the most competitive university campuses – including alcohol abuse, binge drinking, use of illegal drugs such as cocaine and marijuana, and non-medical use of prescription stimulants.
Measurable stress is experienced by 96% of law students, compared to 70% of medical students and 43% of graduate students.
Law students and lawyers suffer from depression at a rate up to four times the expected rate in the general population.
Various studies show that between 20% and 40% of lawyers suffer from statistically significant levels of depression and anxiety.
Lawyers suffer from alcoholism and illegal use of drugs, including prescription medications, at much higher rates than non-lawyers.
A high percentage of disbarments stems from untreated substance abuse.
IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING HIGH LEVELS OF STRESS, ANXIETY OR DEPRESSION – IF YOU ARE OVERUSING ALCOHOL, DRUGS OR MEDICATIONS TO HANDLE STRESS – IF YOU’RE WORRIED ABOUT A FRIEND – ASK FOR HELP! Don’t wait until it’s time to apply to the bar.
See the handout with Emory resources and community resources, or see: