Court Accepts Comments on Character Inquiry Rules by Admissions Committees

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Two proposed changes to the rules governing the character and suitability assessment process of applicants for admission to practice law in Ohio are now open for public comment.

The Ohio Supreme Court is accepting comments until July 25 on standards used by admissions committees conducting character inquiries of those who have applied to be members of the Ohio bar. The changes contain two changes to the Supreme Court Rules for Government of the Bard of Ohio, Rule I, Section 13.

Under Section 13(D)(3), a candidate’s admission may be approved if his or her driving record justifies reliance on clients, adversaries, courts and others with respect to professional duties which are due to them. Admissions committees consider several factors before making a recommendation on the candidate’s character, aptitude, and moral qualifications.

The proposed amendment to the rule eliminates one of these factors: “Evidence of a mental or psychological disorder which in any way affects or, if left untreated, could affect the applicant’s ability to practice the law competently and professionally.

The change reflects reports that law students across the country are not seeking mental health assistance in law school due to concerns about the ramification of disclosure during the character process and aptitude.

The Conference of Chief Justices passed Resolution 5, urging jurisdictions to eliminate questions about mental health diagnosis and focus only on conduct or behavior that calls into question the candidate’s character and fitness to practice the right. The change to the prose rule does not mean that mental or psychological disorders are never relevant to the process, just that the claimant must have engaged in conduct or behavior that calls the claimant’s capacity into question.

The Court also proposes to amend section 13(D)(6), which includes a list of factors that admissions committees should not consider because they “do not directly affect a reasonable relationship to the practice of law. The proposed list removes the “sex” factor and adds “sex, sexual orientation and marital status” to the list that includes age, race, color, national origin and religion.

Comments on the proposed changes should be submitted in writing no later than July 25, 2022. Comments should be mailed or emailed to:

Gina Palmer, Director of Lawyer Services Division
Supreme Court of Ohio
65 Front Street South, 5th Floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215-3431
Where
[email protected]

Email submissions must include your full name and mailing address.

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