Character and Fitness and Admissions to Practice Law in Texas

All states require that in addition to passing a bar examination, a person be of good moral character and fitness in order to be eligible for admission to the bar. Most boards of law examiners are concerned mainly with the existence of a criminal record, disciplinary or honor code violations, dishonesty, financial irresponsibility, and untreated mental illness or substance abuse.

Character & Fitness Questions in the Law School Application

As part of the process of determining an applicant’s character and fitness, the Texas Board of Law Examiners will review an applicant’s law school application to determine whether the applicant has disclosed all criminal charges or convictions, disciplinary actions, academic suspensions, or other matters pertaining to the applicant’s character and fitness to practice law. The application for UNT Dallas College of Law therefore contains several character and fitness questions that are similar to the questions that Texas Board of Law Examiners asks on the Declaration of Intent to Study Law, a document that all law students who apply for admission to the Texas Bar must file. Those questions are:

  1. Have you even been given or placed on academic probation or academic suspension?
  2. Have you ever been disciplined in any way for any matter by any college, university, law school, or other institution of higher learning, or by any professor, administrator, employee or entity representing any college, university, law school, or other institution of higher learning, or have you been allowed to withdraw from such an institution to avoid such discipline, whether or not the record of such action was retained in your file? (Discipline includes, without limitation, a letter or other written notice of reprimand or warning, suspension, expulsion, adjustment of grade, assignment of community service, any form of probation, or any other adverse action.) (Entity includes, without limitation, residential facilities or other facilities owned or managed by a college, university, law school, or other institution of higher learning.)
  3. Have you been arrested, formally accused, charged, cited, fined, posted bail, subject to or currently under a restraining order, or ordered to do community service for any ANY violation of law? You must report any and/or all offenses involving alcohol or drugs. You may exclude ONLY Class C misdemeanor traffic violations. You must report any failure to appear charge or warrant resulting from any offense. You must report any failure to maintain financial responsibility (legally required auto insurance) arrest, citation, ticket or charge.
  4. Have you ever been CONVICTED of ANY offense, placed on probation, or granted deferred adjudication or any type of pretrial diversion? You may exclude ONLY Class C misdemeanor traffic violations. You must report any such offenses involving alcohol or drugs. You must report any failure to appear conviction resulting from any offense, including a failure to appear conviction resulting from a Class C Misdeameanor traffic violation.

Note that concealing past mistakes is often worse than the conduct itself. As you are filling out the application, if you are in doubt, disclose.

Also note that providing any false or incomplete answers or the withholding of required information on an application may constitute a violation of the UNT Dallas Code of Student’s Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct 7.001, may provide grounds for sanctions ranging from a letter of reprimand to revocation of admission, and may be reported to the Law School Admissions Council.

Continuing Obligation to Amend Application

Students admitted to the College of Law have a continuing obligation through graduation to amend their application to disclose any previously undisclosed information required by the application. An applicant will be required to acknowledge this continuing obligation in the application. Amendments to the application must be provided in writing to the Assistant Dean of Admissions and must include a statement providing complete details of the change and supporting documentation. Amendments should be made using the College of Law’s Character and Fitness Amended Disclosure Form. 

Continuing Obligation to Report New Character & Fitness Issues

Students are also under a continuing obligation to report any arrest, citation, ticket, or charge of any violation of the law, excluding minor traffic violations (arrests, citations, tickets, or convictions for failure to maintain financial responsibility must be disclosed), regardless of whether charges were formally brought against the student, regardless of whether charges against the student were dismissed, regardless of whether the student was acquitted, and regardless of whether adjudication was withheld or a conviction was reversed, set aside, or vacated. This obligation begins from the date of acceptance by the Law School and continues until graduation. Students are obligated to make this report in writing to the College of Law Assistant Dean of Students and must include a statement providing complete details of the arrest, citation, ticket, or charge and supporting documentation.

Character & Fitness Requirements for Bar Admission

The Office of the Dean of Students, in conjunction with the faculty, will present workshops and information related to Bar admission and character and fitness requirements to law students at the College of Law. In addition, information and presentations will be collected and available to COL students through their Canvas account. Other resources include:

Applicants are encouraged to determine the requirements for bar admission for any jurisdiction in which they intend to seek admission by contacting the jurisdiction. Addresses for all relevant agencies are available through the National Conference of Bar Examiners.