Rules and Requirements
Admission to the North Carolina State Bar is the responsibility of the North Carolina Board of Law Examiners (NCBLE). The NCBLE requires bar exam applicants to prove their good moral character and fitness to practice law by showing they possess certain qualities, such as candor, responsibility (fiduciary and personal), trustworthiness, diligence, and mental and emotional stability.
The NCBLE’s Character and Fitness Guidelines are available at the NCBLE website.
The NCBLE rules regarding the evaluation process of the character and fitness portion of the bar application are located on its Rules webpage beginning at Section .0600 – Moral Character and General Fitness.
Sections .0601 - .0605 outline the rules regarding the applicant’s burden of proof, the nature of the application as a “permanent record,” the consequences of a failure to disclose certain material information, the appearance of an applicant before a bar candidate committee, the effect of a denied application, and the procedure for re-application or the petitioning process.
In its General Instructions, the NCBLE provides: “It is crucial that you honestly and fully answer all questions. Your responses on your application are indicators of your candor and honesty. An honest ‘yes’ answer to a question on your application is not definitive as to the Board’s assessment of your present moral character and fitness, but a dishonest ‘no’ answer may be definitive.”
A publication by the Young Lawyers Division (YLD) of the North Carolina Bar Association warns that applicants should be prepared to provide complete answers, and related documentation, for all questions in the application, including questions about the applicant’s:
- Employment history;
- Past residences;
- Educational background;
- Disciplinary history (including any criminal or civil cases, license revocations, school or military discipline, etc.);
- Financial history (including any outstanding debts or tax issues);
- Litigation history (including your experience as either a plaintiff, defendant, or witness);
- Prior bar examination applications;
- Drug or alcohol use; and
- Any medical, surgical, or psychiatric impairment.
More helpful information about disclosure requirements from the YLD can be found in its publication, “North Carolina Bar Examination Survival Guide: ‘Don’t Despair, Be Prepared’.”
Note: If you are denied admission because of an instance disclosed (or not disclosed) on your bar application, or otherwise have legal questions concerning the process, you may wish to contact an attorney or law firm that provides representation to bar exam applicants for such matters. You may locate a directory or referral service, such as the one provided by the Mecklenburg County Bar Association.
The Charlotte School of Law Library gratefully acknowledges Shannon Reid for her contributions to and her assistance in creating this research guide.
The Candidate Interview(s)
According to “North Carolina Bar Examination Survival Guide: ‘Don’t Despair, Be Prepared’” after submitting your Character and Fitness Application and the accompanying documents, you should expect a representative of the NCBLE to contact you for a formal interview.
One or more North Carolina attorneys will conduct the interview by:
- Questioning you about any response provided in your application;
- Presenting a hypothetical scenario with ethical implications to test your understanding of an attorney’s obligations under the rules of professional responsibility; and/or
- General questions about your background that may be relevant to your character and fitness to practice law in North Carolina.
It is possible that the NCBLE will ask you for more than one interview if the investigation raises additional questions as to your moral character or fitness to practice law.
In an effort to help applicants learn more about the procedural and practical aspects of the Bar Examination, including the approval of Character and Fitness, the YLD published tips and advice in its “North Carolina Bar Examination Survival Guide: ‘Don’t Despair, Be Prepared’.”
You may also want to visit the NCBLE website for the Board’s list of Helpful Hints in submitting your application form and related documents.