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21 J. Legal Prof. 153 (1997)
Bar Applicants: Are Their Lives Open Books

handle is hein.journals/jlegpro21 and id is 159 raw text is: BAR APPLICANTS: ARE THEIR LIVES OPEN BOOKS?

I. INTRODUCTION
Carpe diem!' This is the anthem for many Americans today. We are
taught to live each day to the fullest and to do what our hearts desire.
Each day we make decisions, some good and some bad, which affect our
lives in one way or another. But what happens when we make a decision
in our youth which could possibly be viewed by others as being immor-
al or characteristic of bad character? More specifically, what happens
when an applicant has done things in the past which may infringe upon
his or her right to choose a career. The courts have been faced with the
woes of those denied admission to the Bar for lack of good moral char-
acter. One of the most obvious concerns of applicants has been the
extent to which Bar Associations probe into past moral character. For
instance, if a person has been of good moral character in very recent
years, should the Bar be allowed to investigate problems of twenty years
ago? The courts' treatment of this issue is discussed, in depth, below.
II. GOOD MORAL CHARACTER AS REQUISrrE TO
ADMISSION TO THE BAR
Baird v. State Bar of Arizona2 describes the practice of law as being
not a matter of grace, but of right for one who is qualified by his learn-
ing and his moral character.3 Justice Frankfurter once observed that all
the interests of [humanity] that are comprised under the constitutional
guarantees given to 'life, liberty and property' are in the professional
keeping of lawyers.' Thus, for obvious reasons, good moral character is
required of those entering the legal profession for the protection of cli-
ents and assurances of orderly and efficient administration of justice.'
As such, it is generally accepted that a state may set high standards of
qualification and, to this end, may investigate an applicant's character and
1. Latin phrase for seize the day.
2. 401 U.S. 1 (1971).
3. Id. at 8.
4. Schware v. Board of Bar Examiners, 353 U.S. 232, 247 (1957).
5. Special Project, Admission to the Bar: A Constitutional Analysis, 34 VAND.
L. REv. 655, 664 (1981).

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