Be­low is a re­sponse to a ques­tion I re­cent­ly re­ceived from a for­eign lawyer re­gard­ing California’s moral char­ac­ter ap­pli­ca­tion. Please let me know if you have any doubts or con­cerns!

Q: I have a ques­tion what is the need of moral char­ac­ter De­ter­mi­na­tion Ap­pli­ca­tion??

And do I have to fill the this ap­pli­ca­tion be­fore the Cal­i­for­nia Bar Ap­pli­ca­tion???

And al­so is For­eign Ap­pli­cant Lawyer and US based Lawyer are same???

The State Bar of Cal­i­for­nia re­quires all bar ap­pli­cants to prove that they are of good moral char­ac­ter. Ac­cord­ing to the State Bar of Cal­i­for­nia, an in­di­vid­ual is of good moral char­ac­ter if they ex­hib­it the traits of “hon­esty, fair­ness, can­dor, trust­wor­thi­ness, ob­ser­vance of fidu­cia­ry re­spon­si­bil­i­ty, re­spect for and obe­di­ence to the law, and re­spect for the rights of oth­ers and the ju­di­cial process.” At­tor­neys who have been sus­pend­ed, dis­barred, or are not in good stand­ing in any ju­ris­dic­tion are pro­hib­it­ed from sub­mit­ting an ap­pli­ca­tion to the State Bar of Cal­i­for­nia. Giv­en the con­sid­er­able dam­age lawyers can in­flict on­to oth­ers, the ap­pli­ca­tion of de­ter­mi­na­tion of moral char­ac­ter is nec­es­sary to de­ter­mine el­i­gi­bil­i­ty for ad­mis­sion to the State Bar of Cal­i­for­nia, en­sur­ing that all bar ap­pli­cants will prac­tice law with in­tegri­ty and virtue. 

The moral char­ac­ter re­view can be a long and painstak­ing process (there is a six month stan­dard pro­cess­ing pe­ri­od). That is why it is im­por­tant to fill out the ap­pli­ca­tion ac­cu­rate­ly and com­plete­ly the first time around. The State Bar of Cal­i­for­nia con­ducts its own re­view and in­ves­ti­ga­tion of you and your ap­pli­ca­tion, so fail­ures to dis­close in­for­ma­tion, dis­hon­esty, or in­com­plete­ness will on­ly de­lay your ap­pli­ca­tion process. The ap­pli­ca­tion gen­er­al­ly in­cludes doc­u­ments like “rec­om­men­da­tions and ref­er­ences from past em­ploy­ers, fin­ger­prints, crim­i­nal con­vic­tions, debt, and vi­o­la­tions of schools’ hon­or codes.” Ap­pli­cants with se­ri­ous is­sues in their past are in­vit­ed to an in­for­mal con­fer­ence in or­der to dis­cuss red flags. 

With re­gard to your sec­ond ques­tion, ac­cord­ing to the State Bar of Cal­i­for­nia, the ap­pli­ca­tion of de­ter­mi­na­tion of moral char­ac­ter must be sub­mit­ted on­line af­ter a law stu­dent or at­tor­ney ap­pli­cant has al­ready reg­is­tered with the State Bar. Stu­dents should sub­mit the ap­pli­ca­tion as ear­ly as pos­si­ble, and no lat­er than the be­gin­ning of their last year of law study.

Last­ly, both for­eign lawyer ap­pli­cants and Amer­i­can lawyer ap­pli­cants com­plete the same ap­pli­ca­tion of de­ter­mi­na­tion of moral char­ac­ter. For more in­for­ma­tion about the State Bar of California’s moral char­ac­ter ap­pli­ca­tion, click here.


  1. [Ac­cessed Ju­ly 10, 2020].
  2. [Ac­cessed Ju­ly 10, 2020].
  3. [Ac­cessed Ju­ly 10, 2020].