legal ethics; professional responsibility; Deborah Rhode; character & fitness; bar admission; mental health & law; race & law


In this Essay, Professor Leslie C. Levin revives Professor Deborah L. Rhode’s forty-year-old critique of the character and fitness process and shows that not much has changed. Levin exposes the process’s core problems, including the lack of public information available about character and fitness decisions, the process’s subjectivity, the disconnect between information sought and future lawyer misconduct, and the deterrent effect on individuals considering a legal career. Levin proposes that task forces reexamine problematic application questions, such as those targeting decriminalized conduct and mental health, and push for more transparency and disclosure.