Frequently Asked Questions

The New Jersey Lawyers Assistance Program congratulates you on your success with the bar exam.

 

NJLAP has provided a free and confidential helping hand for lawyers, judges, law students and law graduates for 20 years. We continue to be an important resource for our legal profession.

 

Interviewing bar candidates referred by the COC is just one part of the important work we do. You are encouraged to become familiar with NJLAP through this website. Over the course of your career as an attorney at law of the state of New Jersey we will be there to confidentially help you when needed. We look forward to working with you.

 

As you begin this process, we highly reccomend that you read the following articles:

Success Will Come and Go, But Integrity is Forever

What Does It Take to Satisfy Character & Fitness Requirements?

Honesty is the Best Policy for Character & Fitness Screenings

 

Below is a list of FAQs that give a brief overview of NJLAP's role in the Character and Fitness process.

Please carefully read all parts of the FAQs. Note that we will occasionally post updates on this page.

Once you have received a referral letter from the COC, please make sure you return your Release form, via hard copy, to the COC, indicating that you are choosing NJLAP for your evaluation provider. We cannot start your file until we have received all your paperwork.
 

While you are waiting, please carefully read the FAQs below, especially item #15, which deals with the educational opportunities that NJLAP provides to candidates. Finishing the classwork before your evaluation appointment is highly recommended so that your counselor can review your work.

 

NJLAP can schedule you for an appointment with one of our counselors as soon as we have received all your appropriate paperwork from the COC.

 

In addition, please note:

a.) With your letter from the COC, you will have an authorization and release form to execute and return to them. Once you have done so, and have chosen NJLAP as your evaluation provider, the COC has permission to send us a copy of your Questionairre and all pertinent paperwork. It will be reviewed and you will be assigned to a counselor. Your counselor will call you to schedule your evaluation appointment or discuss any additional paperwork that is needed (see item b). You will also get an email with registration information for the online class (see item 15 below) which we advise you to complete, if possible, before your evaluation appointment. 


b.) Candidates are reminded to supplement the Questionairee with detailed narratives, amended narratives, police reports, disposition records and/or documentation of treatment. If you have already sent these items to the COC, you do not have to send these to NJLAP as they are already in your file. The COC will send us copies of all paperwork in your file. However, if these documents were missing from your COC file, you should immediately provide these documents to the COC, via an online amendment to your Questionairre.These documents are required by the COC, and help NJLAP complete a proper evaluation. Sending the COC these documents will avoid delays in case processing.

Yes. In addition, NJLAP will need documentation and copies of all other evaluations.

Any incident that occurred during Law School is considered more serious, due to its recent occurrence. In addition, past incidents may indicate a possible pattern of concern.

   4. Where are you located and what are your hours?

NJLAP is available to see candidates at our office at the New Jersey Law Center, One Constitution Square, New Brunswick, NJ 08901 during the hours of 9am and 5pm, Monday through Friday. Our telephone number is 800-24-NJLAP (800-246-5527).

See above for available times. If possible, we can schedule you for first thing in the morning, at lunchtime, or at the end of the day.
This varies according to your particular situation. On average, interviews often last 1½ hours.

Yes. Be prepared to discuss and document, your efforts at recovery including the following:

 

a.) Clean/Abstinent date(s)

b.) Formal Treatment (Inpatient, Outpatient, Group/Individual Therapy

c.) Informal Treatment (State Drinking Driving Programs, AA, NA or other support groups). Documentation may be required as to your participation and or completion of any of these efforts. In order to complete our review as part of your certification process, it would be wise to begin requesting and gathering this information as soon as possible.

Arrangements to have your evaluation done by an entity other than NJLAP must be approved in advance by the NJ COC. Please contact them directly to discuss this option. It is important to note that NJLAP evaluations and services are free of charge. If you are approved to have your evaluation and services provided elsewhere, you will be responsible for all related costs.

The time frame is dependent on your completion of the required information for your Questionairre, your completion of the online class, and other factors that vary on a case-by-case basis.

NJLAP cannot make any promises or estimates about when or if you will be admitted. NJLAP has no authority over bar admissions. All decisions regarding your certification are made by your reviewing attorney and the COC. .

Having a judge, your boss, your mom or anyone else call NJLAP will not speed up the process. Both NJ State and Federal law prohibits NJLAP from disclosing client involvement with our program, without a signed authorization and release on file.

The COC staff attorney and your reviewing attorney are in charge of handling your case. For further information about your case, at this point, you should contact the COC.

NJLAP is responsible for doing a thorough evaluation and reporting its conclusions and recommendations to the COC. Reports are based on the evaluation, your Questionairre and case paperwork, your participation with the program, and case conference of NJLAP counselors.

For many candidates, submission of the final report concludes NJLAP’s role. However, final reports may be amended at any time based on the candidate’s continued involvement with the program (i.e. non-compliance, general progress or extraordinary measures that have been taken by the candidate).

Not necessarily, but it will help the process along and may answer the reviewing attorney’s concerns about your admission.

Note: NJLAP offers an online learning concept, conducted through Blackboard. Candidates have the opportunity to complete the materials as part of their educational and preventive activities with NJLAP. Candidates will be sent an email prior to their evaluation appointment containing instructions and sign-in information for the appropriate online class(es). Successfully completing the classwork before the evaluation appointment is highly recommended.

NJLAP offers a multi-faceted educational experience, including independent online classes that focus on substance use, abuse and addiction; or mental health, stress, resilience and wellness.  Both classes cover pertinent bar candidate case law.  Candidates may be invited to complete one class or both.  Each class consists of written work, done online. In addition to the online classes, NJLAP offers periodic events at the Law Center for meeting previous candidates to the bar who have been through the process as well as an introduction to NJLAP services. In addition, candidates are invited to attend open Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers (LCL) meetings as needed.

Benefits of Participation: Participation in NJLAP’s educational offerings supports a candidate’s obligation to meet RG303.6, in the Rules Governing the Committee on Character. 

 “303.6 Burden of Proof.  The candidate shall have the burden to establish by clear and convincing evidence his or her good character and current fitness to be admitted to the practice of law in this state.”

 

If you are not familiar with the COC's rules and regulations, you may download them from the Board of Bar Examiners' website, listed at the end of these FAQs.

No. NJLAP is a distinct and separate entity from the COC. NJLAP fulfills an evaluation function for the COC. Because we are separate and distinct entities, please make sure that anything that you provide to NJLAP is also provided to the COC via an upload to your online file. The COC maintains the files and will make sure that your reviewing attorney receives a copy.

See In re Hyra, 15 N.J. 252 (1954):

“A full disclosure of one’s personal life and his affairs should be made by every prospective candidate and it can be generally stated that there is no place in the law for a man who cannot or will not, tell the truth even when his own interest are involved. In the legal profession particularly there must be reverence for the truth.”


See In Matter of the Application of Frank B. McLaughlin, 144 N.J. 133 (1996):

The Court emphasized truthfulness and honesty as requisite traits for admission to the bar. The Court noted that a candidate who conceals issues or misleads the Committee on Character subverts the process of character review and the Court’s responsibility to protect the public and preserve the justice system.

 

In  In re McLaughlin, Justice Handler discussed the need for attorneys and bar applicants to adhere to the highest principles of integrity.  He explained:

Candidates for the bar are expected to understand and satisfy the personal, educational, and professional requisites that inhere in good character and fitness and are indispensable in seeking authorization to engage in the practice of law.  Good character does not emerge on licensure.  It is absurd to suggest that good character is not revealed until one becomes an attorney.  The fundamental character traits of honesty and truthfulness are not valued in abstract, but are assumed to be inherent aspects of one’s personality; they can, and must, be considered the measure of a candidate‘s eligibility to seek admission to practice law and ability to fulfill the responsibilities of legal profession.

Excerpted from New Jersey Law Journal article, June 1, 2009

 

The COC has advised the NJLAP that present lack of candor when disclosing or discussing a matter that has taken place in your past is a separate and distinct act of misconduct. In fact, the COC may view present lack of candor more seriously than the original matter itself since it would constitute recent misconduct. Lack of candor may be grounds for the COC to recommend that your certification for admission to the bar be withheld. Additionally, if the lack of candor is discovered after you have already been certified for admission to the bar, the COC can refer the matter to the Office of Attorney Ethics for further action.


As an additional reminder, you have an ongoing duty to report any updates or changes to your Certified Statement to the COC until your date of admission.

For answers to questions about 303 hearings, such as:

What is a 303 hearing?*

What is the possibility that I will have a hearing?*

When will I know if I will be having a hearing?*

What will the 303 hearing be like?*

a. Should I / do I have to bring an attorney to the hearing?

b. How long will it take?

c. How long after the hearing will I be certified?


*Please visit the NJ Board of Bar Examiners Website to download the Committee on Character Regulations or call 609-815-2911.