Committee on Character & Fitness

Due to the COVID-19 public health crisis, the Office of the Committee on Character and Fitness is presently accepting digital applications and submissions only.  Hard copy filing of applications and documents is suspended until further notice.  

  1. APPLICATIONS FOR ADMISSION. All Applications for Admission to the New York State Bar shall be submitted electronically through the portal provided by  the Court. 

  2. INQUIRIES AND ELECTRONIC SUBMISSIONS. All other inquiries and electronic submissions should be email to:

  3. Certificates of Good Standing. Get information on how to obtain a certificate of good standing.

  4. New: Temporary Authorization Program. Information and instructions.

  5. JOINT STATEMENT OF THE PRESIDING JUSTICES. The latest statement from the Presiding Justices of the Appellate Division regarding bar admission practices.

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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.

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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.

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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. The application for admission can be found here. In addition to the application questionnaire and forms, you must also provide a “verified petition.”back to top (Sample Formback to top). Carefully review 22 NYCRR 520.10 before seeking certification and completing and filing the application.

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Orientation to the Profession Program

Every applicant to the First Judicial Department seeking admission to the practice of law after September 1, 1999, must successfully complete the Orientation to the Profession Program before being admitted (see 22 NYCRR 602.3). The two-hour program is addressed to the subject of professional ethics and related topics. Applicants must complete the program by viewing an on-line video presentation that may be accessed via the Court’s web site in accordance with the Instructions for Completing the Orientation to the Profession Program. Applicants who previously attended and completed a live presentation of the program within one year prior to the date of admission do not have to view the on-line video. Effective January 1, 2018, there will be no live programs.


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

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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 and members of a recognized legal profession in foreign non-United States jurisdictions, 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 application forms and instructions for registration pursuant to Part 522 are 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.

NEW - Applicants for registration in the First Judicial Department should submit the completed application package, including all required documents, in digital (pdf) format, by e-mail to: Applicants shall preserve the original documents as the Court reserves the right to request the production of said documents.

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 reapply using the re-registration formback to top in accordance with the instructions. Note that if the re-registration occurs within 30 days of ceasing prior employment, certificates of good standing, attorney disciplinary letters, and or optional affidavits are not required.

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

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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 department where the attorney was admitted.

Certificates are issued only if an attorney is current with OCA registration requirements and biennial registration fees.

Commencing on February 16, 2021, requests for Certificates of Good Standing will be processed electronically via a statewide online portal for all four departments of the Appellate Division. Simply complete and submit the application form. (Once you click on the link, you will be on the application page). There is no fee for obtaining a certificate. Upon submission, the applicant will receive an email confirmation that the request was successfully submitted. Once the request is reviewed and approved, the certificate will be emailed to one of the following email addresses, in the order listed:

  1. If the attorney has an Attorney Online Services account, the certificate will be sent to the email associated with the account;

  2. If the attorney does not have an Attorney Online Services account, the certificate will be sent to the public email on file with Attorney Services; or

  3. If the attorney has neither of the above, the certificate will be sent to the email on the application form.

Attorneys who do not have an Attorney Online Services account are encouraged to establish one. Please note that certificates will no longer be issued in-person.

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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 to the following email:

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.

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 by return email from sender 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.

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Non-disciplinary (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 non-disciplinary resignation; you must seek a disciplinary resignation, which is processed through the Attorney Grievance Committee.

Please do not confuse non-disciplinary resignation with "retirement," as that term is defined in 22 NYCRR 118.1(g) .

Non-disciplinary resignations pursuant to 22 NYCRR §1240.22(a) are sought from the First Department by way of a motion, supported by an affidavit of the resigning attorney. To obtain an order granting a non-disciplinary resignation, please submit:

  • an original notice of motion and five (5) copies, with a designated return dated;
  • the required affidavit, in the form prescribed in Appendix E to the Rules of Attorney Disciplinary Matters (22 NYCRR) Part 1240, subscribed and sworn to before a notary public or other person authorized to administer an oath; please note: some of the paragraphs in the form affidavit provide alternative passages – select the passage that is applicable to you; do not include both;  
  • proof of service on the (1) Office of the Chief Attorney for the Attorney Grievance Committees and (2) the Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection;
  • for personal service, the motion must be served at least eight (8) days prior to the return date; for service by mail, five (5) days must be added for a total of 13 days; the day of service is not counted.  Example:  If you personally serve your papers on the Attorney Grievance Committee on May 1st, the earliest you can make your motion returnable is May 9th ; if the motion is served by mail on May 1st, the earliest you can make the motion returnable is May 14th.  You may contact the Grievance Committee if you need short service;
  • $45 filing fee (check or money order) payable to “Clerk, Appellate Division;” and
  • a self-addressed, stamped, return envelope;
  • Mail to or file at:

Appellate Division, First Department
27 Madison Avenue
NY, NY 10010
Attn: Motion Clerk

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