NYCourts.govNew York State Unified Court System

Committee on Character and Fitness


Overview
Admission By Bar Examination
Admission On Motion (Reciprocity)
License as a Foreign Legal Consultant
In-house Counsel
Certificates of Good Standing
Name Change
Voluntary Resignation

back to top

Overview

Attorneys are admitted to the practice of law in New York State through one of the four departments of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, based upon the applicant’s address. The First Department covers Manhattan and the Bronx. All individuals who pass the New York State bar examination and the M.P.R.E., as well as those seeking admission on motion (from reciprocal jurisdictions), and foreign attorneys seeking to be licensed as foreign legal consultants in the First Judicial Department, must pass through an application process administered by the First Department’s Committee on Character and Fitness (“the Committee”).

All applicants must file an application questionnaire, with supporting documentation. Only complete applications will be accepted for filing. A complete application consists of the application questionnaire, all required accompanying forms and supporting documentation, including two Affidavits of Good Moral Character, and Legal Employment Affidavits from every law-related position you have held, including paid or unpaid internships, summer associate positions, volunteer work in law school clinics or elsewhere. The application materials also include law school certificates for you to fill out and send to every law school you attended. The law school then fills out its portion of the form and sends it directly to the Committee.

Create your own “admission file” to retain all notices and information you receive from the Committee and keep a copy of any document or correspondence you send to the Committee including your completed application and all attached documents.

back to top

Admission By Bar Examination

If you pass the Bar Exam and the M.P.R.E., the State Board of Law Examiners ("the Board") then officially certifies you for admission to one of the four departments of the Appellate Division in the State, based upon your address. The Board will send you a "Notice of Certification."

The Application Packageback to top for admission to the bar includes General Instructions, the Application Questionnaire, Form Affidavit as to Moral Character, Form Affidavit as to Legal Employment and Form Law School Certificate. Read the General Instructions first, then type in the required information on each form, print out the typed forms, obtain relevant signatures and mail the entire package in the order directed in the General Instructions.

A fillable applicant checklistback to top is also included as is a fillable riderback to top if additional space for answers is necessary. Do not reformat the questionnaire or accompanying forms. Reformats will be returned.

If you are certified to the Appellate Division, First Department, you may then file an application to the above address. Do not file with us until you receive your “Notice of Certification” from the Board. Once we receive your completed application, a tentative interview date with the Committee is assigned and a notice will be mailed to you. Once your application is reviewed, you will receive a notice from the Committee confirming the date, time and location of your interview, mandatory orientation program and admission ceremony, where the oath of office is administered in open court. This notice will also inform you if additional documentation is required to complete your application. If the Committee requires you to submit a Generalback to top or Lawyer's Assistance Formback to top you may download them individually. This cycle of application, interview, orientation and oath is conducted regularly throughout the year.

back to top

Admission On Motion (Reciprocity)


Attorneys admitted in other jurisdictions seeking admission in New York without examination (reciprocity) should refer to the applicable court rules [22 NYCRR Part 520]. All applicants must first apply to the New York State Board of Law Examiners for certification that a motion candidate has the legal education required under 22 NYCRR 520.10. Candidates with addresses in Manhattan and the Bronx are assigned to the First Department; those applicants without a New York State address are certified to the Third Department. Upon payment of a fee to the State Board and the completion of the application, the State Board will inform the Committee, via copy of the letter of certification, of motion candidates assigned to the First Department. Upon our receipt of this notification, a packet containing instructions and application materials will be mailed to you. Carefully review 22 NYCRR 520.10 before seeking certification and completing and filing the application.

back to top

License as a Foreign Legal Consultant

Foreign attorneys seeking to apply for a license as a foreign legal consultant should refer to the Rules of the Court of Appeals [22 NYCRR Part 521] and the Rules of the First Department [22 NYCRR Part 610].back to top

Once you have carefully reviewed the above Rules for eligibility, send a written request for the application materials to the Committee on Character and Fitness (mailing address indicated above). The request should include:

• Full Address, Telephone and Fax Numbers
• E-mail Address

back to top

In-house Counsel

Part 522 of the Rules of the Court of Appeals, effective April 20, 2011, permits attorneys in good standing in certain other U.S. jurisdictionsback to top to act as in-house counsel for a New York organization without satisfying traditional admissions requirements.

Attorneys seeking to register as in-house counsel should refer to the Rules of the Court of Appeals [22NYCRR Part 522]. The applicationback to top form (and instructionsback to top) for registration pursuant to Part 522 is uniform among the four Appellate Division Departments in New York State. An attorney may apply for registration to the Department in which he or she resides, works or plans to work. Applications for registration in the First Judicial Department should be filed with or mailed to:

Clerk of the Court
Appellate Division, First Department
27 Madison Ave,New York, New York 10010

An attorney previously approved for registration as in-house counsel who becomes employed by another employer for which the attorney will perform legal services as in-house counsel, must apply to re-register as an in-house counsel within 30 days of the change of employment.

Currently, no fees are assessed for the application or registration as in-house counsel in New York State.

back to top

Certificates of Good Standing


A Certificate of Good Standing attests that an attorney was licensed and admitted to practice in the courts of this state on a given date, has registered with the Office of Court Administration (“OCA”), and is in “good standing,” that is, the attorney is not currently suspended or disbarred. Certificates of Good Standing will only be issued by the Appellate Division where the attorney was admitted.

Certificates are issued only if you are current in OCA registration and biennial registration fees.

Each certificate costs $5.00; check or money order only. No cash. Checks and money orders must be drawn on a U.S. banking institution or Post Office.
Make payable to: “CLERK, APPELLATE DIVISION”

To request a Certificate of Good Standing, mail a Certificate of Good Standing Request Formback to top , the fee, and a self-addressed, stamped, return envelope.

You may also apply for a certificate in person from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. [bring photo ID] at:


Attorney Records Clerk
Appellate Division, First Judicial Department
41 Madison Avenue (at 26th Street) - 26th Floor
New York, N.Y. 10010

If you send a representative to pick up your certificate, the representative must present a completed Certificate of Good Standing Request Formback to top , along with a letter, on your letterhead, signed by you, identifying the representative you are authorizing to pick up the certificate on your behalf.

back to top

Name Change

Upon admission to practice law in New York State, attorneys are admitted under a certain name, which, from time to time they change for reasons such as marriage, divorce or by court order.

In order to practice under a name different from the name under which you were admitted, you need approval from the Appellate Division Department in which you were admitted, regardless of where you currently live or practice.

The following procedure must be followed if you were admitted in the First Department:

• Submit an executed Attorney's Affidavitback to top , along with the required documentation and a self-addressed, business-sized envelope with proper postage. If the reason for which you seek to practice under a new name is not covered by the affidavit, add a rider detailing the reason, and attach any relevant documentation.

• Mail your affidavit to:

Maria Matos, Esq.
Attorney Records
Appellate Division, First Judicial Department
41 Madison Avenue (at 26th Street)- 26th Floor
New York, NY 10010

You may NOT practice law under a name other than which you were admitted until you obtain a name change approval from the Appellate Division.

If your Name Change application is approved, you will receive notice of the approval in the stamped, self-addressed, return envelope you submit with your affidavit. We will notify the Office of Court Administration of an approved name change; however, you should include a copy of the notice approving your name change in your next registration renewal.

Please be advised that if the attorney seeking the name change is not in good standing for any reason or, if other circumstances warrant, the attorney may be required to proceed by formal motion to the Court.

back to top

Voluntary Resignation

Persons admitted to the bar sometimes seek to resign as attorneys. Often the resignation is occasioned by an attorney’s move to a different state, his or her cessation of practice in New York, or the voluntary desire to avoid the continued payment of the biennial registration fee required by Judiciary Law § 468-a. If you are presently under suspension or are disbarred, or you are the subject of a disciplinary investigation or proceeding, you are not eligible for a voluntary resignation; you must seek a disciplinary resignation, which is processed through the Departmental Disciplinary Committee .

Please do not confuse voluntary resignation with "retirement," as that term is defined in 22 NYCRR 118.1(g) .back to top

Voluntary resignations are sought from the First Department by way of a motion, supported by the affirmation or affidavit of the resigning attorney. To obtain an order granting voluntary resignation, submit a self-addressed, stamped, return envelope and an original notice of motion and seven (7) copies, together with an affirmation or affidavit containing the following information:

• Identify yourself, including present occupation, current home and business addresses and telephone numbers.

• The date of your admission to the Bar by this Court.

• List all other jurisdictions in which you are admitted to practice law, with dates of admission, and state your current standing in those jurisdictions.

• State whether you have ever been known by any other name, and list such name(s).

• State whether you are or have ever been the subject of any disciplinary proceedings or if any investigation is pending. If so, set forth the details, including disposition, and state the jurisdiction of the alleged misconduct.

• State whether you are, or were since your admission to the Bar of the State of New York, the subject of a criminal investigation, charge, indictment, or conviction in any jurisdiction. Provide all relevant details including dates, nature of charges and the disposition of such charges.

• State whether you are current in your attorney registration, including current in attorney registration fees. If you are not current, state the length of your arrears (check).

• Set forth the reason(s) for your application to resign from the New York Bar.

Include a $45 filing fee by check or money order only payable to "Clerk, Appellate Division".

• Mail to:

Maria Matos, Esq.
Attorney Records Clerk
Appellate Division First Department
41 Madison Avenue (at 26th Street)- 26th Floor
New York, NY 10010

The Court will inform you by mail when a decision on your motion is rendered.

PLEASE NOTE: A resignation in New York State would prohibit you from practicing law in this State in the future. Should there come a time when you wish to be reinstated in New York, you must make a motion to the Court and meet any other requirements in force at that time.

back to top

 

 

Office Info

Maria Matos, Secretary to the
Committee on Character and Fitness
41 Madison Avenue (at 26th Street), 26th Floor
New York, NY 10010
Phone: (646) 386-5893  
FAX: (212) 295-4915