Character & Fitness Requirements
The twin hurdles of bar admissions are the Bar Exam and the Character and Fitness Application. The latter, though not necessarily a difficult process, is often a fairly cumbersome one, which asks for extensive background information on your past employment, addresses, education, interactions with the legal system, and more.
In Arizona, the character review is occasioned by the Supreme Court Rules. Rule 34(b)(1)(B) and (C) assert that before being granted admission to practice, applicants be found of "good moral character" and are "mentally, emotionally, and physically able" to engage in the practice of law. Rule 36 sets forth the procedures by which the Committee on Character and Fitness makes its determinations.
If you are applying for bar admission outside of Arizona, please check the character and fitness requirements in your jurisdiction. Most jurisdictions have their own unique processes.
Timing of the Character & Fitness application and bar exam application
An applicant may not submit their Character and Fitness application until they have submitted their Bar Application, however the two applications may be submitted at separate times.
Though you cannot submit the Character and Fitness report until the bar application cycle opens (i.e. July takers cannot submit their Character and Fitness report before the July bar application period opens on January 15th), you can obtain a sample character and fitness application (here) and begin the process of gathering the information you will need for this process far in advance. A good time to begin thinking about this is the fall of your 3L year.
Rule 34(b)(3) provides that for candidates who submit their Character and Fitness applications by the time they sit for the bar exam, the Committee on Character and Fitness will attempt to complete its inquiries by the time UBE scores are released.
The Supreme Court has issued information related to some areas of particular interest on the Character and Fitness report. Substance abuse and financial responsibility guidelines can be found here: Guidelines. Students often have questions on the information sought on Traffic Violations.
Best Practices on Character & Fitness Application
It can be tricky sometimes to know how much information to disclose on the Character and Fitness Application. Read each question carefully and answer truthfully and to the best of your ability.
It is generally better to over-disclose than under-disclose. If in doubt about how to handle a certain question, reach out to a law school mentor for guidance.
Never lie on any question.
If you cannot remember details that a question calls for, research to the best of your ability and then disclose the pertinent information in as much detail as you do recall.
AZCourts: Forms and Resources related to character and fitness inquiry