Conducting character and fitness investigations on applicants seeking either admission to the bar or a limited license to practice law
General Character and Fitness FAQs
Why do I need an NCBE account?
An NCBE account is required to access the Character and Fitness Application, including any previous applications. The NCBE account also allows you to register for the MPRE, transfer or request a copy of your score, and obtain an NCBE Number to apply for bar admission.
Why should my character and fitness be investigated?
While testing and education may indicate competence to engage in the practice of law, the public interest also requires review of an applicant's character and fitness to engage in the practice of law.
What will happen if my character and fitness application is incomplete or inaccurate?
The application must be filled out completely, as failure to provide information may delay the process and require more time and effort. Answer all questions honestly, as failure to do so may result in sanctions. Failure to disclose information often yields a more serious outcome than the matter itself would have produced had it been revealed by the applicant. Be sure to allow sufficient time well in advance of filing deadlines to complete the application and gather accompanying materials.
What if I’m not sure where I intend to practice?
It is usually best to determine the requirements of the jurisdiction in which your law school is located, and also the two or three jurisdictions in which you are most likely to seek employment.
What is law student registration and does it apply to me?
Bar examiners in some jurisdictions require law students to register with their licensing agencies while the students are enrolled in law school. Other jurisdictions offer a form of law student registration on a voluntary basis. A prospective applicant files an application early in his or her law school career for the purpose of identifying issues that may present a problem at the time of licensing, or in order to speed up the licensing process at the time of the bar examination. A law student should contact the jurisdiction in which he or she wishes to practice for instructions on obtaining and completing an application.
After the application is submitted, investigations are conducted by the bar admission agency or by NCBE on behalf of some jurisdictions. Jurisdictions often require the applicant to update the application at the time that the applicant applies to take the bar examination. Consult the Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements and/or speak with a representative at your law school career services office to determine if registration is required, optional, or not applicable in your jurisdiction, and to obtain registration timelines. Financial advantages may result from earlier filing; financial penalties usually exist for late filing.
What are the benefits of early investigation via law student registration?
Early investigation may expedite the processing of bar exam applications by completing preliminary work sooner and identifying problems which might otherwise delay or adversely affect licensing after law school graduation. It may eliminate a matter of concern to an applicant who incorrectly presumes that a specific matter presents an obstacle to bar admission.
If issues of concern are identified, the applicant is better able to make an informed decision about whether to proceed with law school, potentially saving time and money. In this case the applicant may also determine how to demonstrate that he or she has learned from past mistakes. Bar admission agencies are able to more thoroughly investigate and thoughtfully evaluate candidates.
Character and Fitness Fee FAQs
When will my payment be processed?
Processing payments can take up to 30 days. If after 30 days from the date of submission, your payment has not been processed, please contact NCBE’s Investigations Intake department at 608-280-8550.
Where can I find NCBE's required fee and if I am eligible for a Supplemental Fee?
The Fee Schedule page, which is available once you log in to your online application, lists fee categories and supplemental fee eligibility. You will only need to pay one fee, either the regular fee or the supplemental fee. Please contact NCBE if you are still unsure about which fee category you fall into or to confirm supplemental fee eligibility.
If I am eligible for a supplemental fee, do I need to complete a new Character and Fitness Application?
Yes. A new application is required for all submissions regardless of fee category.
Character and Fitness Application FAQs
I submitted my application last year; is submitting amendment forms sufficient?
If the jurisdiction requires you to, you MUST complete a new application for EVERY submission, whether it is a supplemental application to the same jurisdiction or a new application to a different jurisdiction. NCBE requires a complete application each time you apply. Contact the jurisdiction directly for further instructions.
Where do I send my application?
Once you complete the NCBE online application, please follow the instructions on the checklist that appears at the end of the application. You may need to contact the jurisdiction directly.
How do I get a copy of my application?
Will I receive confirmation when my application is completed?
You will need to contact NCBE to confirm completion. However, some jurisdictions do not allow NCBE to give out status information. You may need to contact the jurisdiction directly.
What should I do if I am having problems logging in to my account or cannot copy my information into a new application?
Please view our Technical Support FAQs page.
- Overview of Character and Fitness
- FAQs - Character and Fitness
Amendment Forms (PDF)
Sample Application (PDF)
(Not for submission, reference only)