For CUNY Law Applicants: Frequently Asked Questions about filing for Character and Fitness (Bar Admission) Application in New York

 

Where can I find the application for admission to the bar in New York State?

The uniform character and fitness (admissions) application can be downloaded from the New York Bar Exam website.

 

Which Appellate Division Department should I submit my application?

  • If the residence you registered to take the state bar exam is in Richmond, Kings (Brooklyn), Queens, Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Dutchess, Orange, Rockland, and Putnam, then you are in the 2nd Dept.
  • If you residence is outside NYS, you are in the Third Dept.
  • If you live in the Bronx or Manhattan, you submit your papers to the 1st Dept.

For a comprehensive listing of NY counties and Departments they fall in, go to: http://www.nybarexam.org/Admission/CountyListforAppellateDivisions.pdf <pdf>

 

Does admission in an Appellate Division Department allow me to practice anywhere in New York State?

The Department you submit your character and fitness papers is only the point of entry for filing your papers. Once you're admitted in one Department, you're admitted to practice anywhere in New York State.

 

Where should I send the "Form Law School Certificate" ?

Send it to:

Office of Registration and Records
CUNY Law School
2 Court Square
Long Island City, NY 11101

The Office is required to submit this directly to the Appellate Division Department that you designate on the Form.

 

Where can I find a comprehensive list of steps of what I need to do to complete the admission process in New York state?

You should review the documents from the 2nd Department Appellate Division and . The 2nd Department documents are pretty good and applicable to other departments—except the Orientation to Bar requirement is not applicable to applicants for admission in the 3rd and 4th Departments.

 

There is a requirement that I submit an affidavit of law-related employment. What constitutes law-related employment?

It's very broadly defined.

  • A pre-law position with a law firm or legal department is law-related employment.
  • Of course any pre-law school or law school internship or externship with a law office or legal organization or judge is considered law related employment. It doesn't matter that you were not paid.
  • The First Department specifically construes law school clinic work to be law related employment and it is reasonable to infer that all the Departments adopt this interpretation and that your placement with an employer through a Concentration is law related employment.
  • Even a work study position with any department of the law school is considered law-related employment as well as teaching or research assistant position.
  • The emphasis is on a broad definition of law-related employment so when in doubt get an affidavit.
 

What if the employer after several requests fails to provide me with an Affidavit of Law-Related Employment?

Document your attempts; keep a record of your email, phone calls and mailed correspondence. Three or more attempts sound reasonable over a 1-2 month period sound reasonable. Then in lieu of the missing affidavit, you submit an affidavit that attests to your good faith efforts at getting an affidavit from your legal employer. You need affidavits with original signatures.

 

Is there a deadline by which I have to file my application for Character and Fitness?

The following text was on the BOLE Admission's web page:

"Please note that your application for admission must be filed within three (3) years from the date of the initial letter sent by the Board notifying you that you have passed the bar examination. A failure to file your Application for Admission with the Appellate Division within three (3) years of the date on the bar exam pass notice will result in your having to re-take the bar exam."

Do you really want to take the bar exam again AFTER you've passed? Of course not so don't delay in filing your application for admission.

 

What if I pass the bar exam but I haven't yet passed or taken the MPRE?

You are considered an "uncertified" candidate and therefore you will not be able to submit your character and fitness application. Don't delay in taking and passing the MPRE because you don't have an unlimited amount of time to apply for admission after you've passed the bar. You have 3 years from the date of your notice that you passed the NY Bar exam to submit your character and fitness application. This clock will start as soon as you receive word you passed the New York bar, and the clock will continue to run regardless of whether you have not taken and passed the MPRE.

 

Please email Sam Sue, Director of the Career Planning Office, at sam.sue@law.cuny.edu if you have any further questions.

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