Monday, January 13, 2014

Character and Fitness: Why it matters

Character and Fitness (also called C & F)  is a portion of state bar exam applications. Applicants have to prove that they will be worthy of being attorneys, once they take and pass the exam. State bar associations take it very seriously. For example, Michigan's application, in addition to requiring a criminal background check, requires applicants to list all the addresses, and jobs they have held since they were 18. If an applicant's background raises any "red flags" this means the State Bar will interview that applicant, find the cause for the red flag, and perhaps delay their application until the cause for concern improves. I have heard tales from fellow attorneys about C&F interviews over parking tickets.And it's one of those areas where it's easy to see both sides of the argument: yes, it seems to be a tedious hassle for applicants to complete the application; but since attorneys have so much control & power over client's affairs, the state bar associations are really protecting the public from potential psychopaths.

But this article tells the tale of one student who tried to slip between the cracks.

A money manager now known as Mathew Martoma who is now being tried for insider trading was expelled from Harvard Law School for altering his transcripts in his applications for federal clerkships.

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