Good Character Assessment for Applicants

For the protection of the public and the profession, the Legal Profession Act imposes a statutory obligation on the Law Society governors, called Benchers, to be satisfied that each applicant for enrolment is of good character and is fit to become a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court. The onus is on the applicant to satisfy the Benchers in this regard.

Law Society staff screen all prospective articled students, applicants for call and admission, applicants for reinstatement and applicants for transfer to ensure they are of good character and repute and are fit to become a barrister and a solicitor of the Supreme Court. This could include investigation of any criminal charges, financial difficulties, drug or alcohol abuse, treatment for serious illnesses or any other factors that may affect an applicant's character or fitness for practice.

If Law Society staff have concerns about the character or fitness of a candidate for enrolment, call and admission, transfer or reinstatement, the application is referred to the Credentials Committee. The Credentials Committee can review the matter in question and any relevant factors. For example, in the case of questionable prior conduct, it may consider such factors as the applicant's age at the time of the conduct, how recent the conduct was, its seriousness and any evidence of rehabilitation.

Once the review is completed, the committee can:

  • approve the application;
  • approve the application with conditions;
  • defer consideration pending further information or the completion of an investigation; or
  • order a credentials hearing.

A former lawyer who was disbarred or who resigned for disciplinary reasons must be referred to the Credentials Committee and the committee must order a credentials hearing.

Anyone applying for enrolment in the Law Society Admission Program or for admission and call to the Bar is advised to answer all questions fairly and fully and to disclose to the Law Society anything that the applicant considers might adversely affect the application. The applicant should give the fullest details possible and provide supporting documentation.

When considering past criminal charges or convictions, the Credentials Committee assesses the following factors:

  • applicant's age at the time of the conduct in question;
  • recentness of the conduct;
  • reliability of the information;
  • seriousness of the conduct;
  • factors underlying the conduct;
  • cumulative effect of the conduct or information;
  • evidence of rehabilitation;
  • applicant's positive social contributions since the conduct;
  • applicant's candour in the admissions process; and
  • materiality of any omissions or representations.

Any applicant who has questions or concerns regarding disclosures under this section can contact Credentials and Licensing