Southern Illinois University School of Law

Southern Illinois University Carbondale

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Character and Fitness Review

Q: What is a “character and fitness review?”

The Board of Bar examiners in each jurisdiction will review such matters as:

- your educational background;
- any disciplinary actions taken against you while enrolled in any school;
- your employment history;
- any charges of dishonesty during employment;
- your employment discharges;
- any involvement in any civil, quasi-criminal or criminal proceedings;
- bankruptcies;
- any motor vehicle violations (including parking or other traffic violations); and
- any unsatisfied judgments against the student.

Q: Will I have to give references?

In many jurisdictions, including Illinois, you will be asked to supply the names and addresses of all former employers and other references and to list every address where you lived. Your references may be asked such questions as whether you have:

- been arrested, expelled, suspended, censured or disciplined;
- been a party to a lawsuit, grievance, or complaint;
- abused alcohol or used illegal drugs;
- suffered from any mental or emotional condition that might impair your ability to practice law competently;
- been delinquent in any monetary obligations; or
- been fired or asked to resign from any employment.

Q: What can I do to improve my chances of passing the character and fitness review?

Law students are advised to conduct themselves in a manner that is ethical and conveys their ability to practice law. This includes:

- abiding by the School of Law honor code and all University rules and regulations;
- paying bills on-time;
- conducting themselves honestly;
- avoiding any and all criminal conduct, including DUI, drug, and traffic offenses;
- reporting all criminal arrests and convictions as required;
- satisfing any outstanding traffic or other fines; and
- developing a payment plan for outstanding or overdue debts.