Michigan's Character & Fitness Process
After completing law school, individuals who wish to practice law in the State of Michigan must show they possess the requisite character and fitness to practice law. The character and fitness process begins by filing an Affidavit of Personal History.
Candor is absolutely necessary.One of the most telling indicator's of an applicant's current character and fitness is their honesty when filling out an Affidavit of Personal History. It is an extensive questionnaire submitted under oath that asks questions pertaining to identification, background, education, employment history, business involvement, school discipline, participation in civil litigation, financial history, general fitness, history of mental health issues and substance dependency, and criminal history. Do not hesitate to answer these questions truthfully and completely.
Some disclosures require further inquiry and consideration.Michigan is one of the few states that allows an applicant to undergo the character and fitness process and take the bar exam simultaneously. After taking the bar exam, an applicant will receive either an official score or unofficial score. An unofficial score generally means the applicant needs to participate in a hearing for further inquiry and consideration as a result of their Affidavit of Personal History. An applicant must prove by clear and convincing evidence that they have the requisite character and fitness to practice law. If this cannot be established at the district level, the district committee will indicate the applicant cannot be recommended favorably to the State Bar of Michigan. From there, an applicant can appeal to the Standing Committee, the Board of Law Examiners, and then to the Michigan Supreme Court. Each hearing becomes more formal, grueling, and in-depth. It is crucial to have an experienced attorney at the beginning of the character and fitness process.