Step 2: Application

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July 2020 Bar Exam Applicants

The Character and Fitness team is working to process applications as efficiently as possible under extraordinary circumstances, and we ask for your patience as we do our best to navigate through the challenges presented to us. Likewise, know that we will be patient with you as you attempt to provide us with the information that we need to complete the certification process.

Please contact the Character & Fitness Department at if you have questions about your application.

Applications for the February 2021 bar exam will be accepted after August 15, 2020, and must be electronically submitted prior to midnight EST, December 15, 2020.

Applications for the July 2021 bar exam will be accepted after January 15, 2021, and must be electronically submitted prior to midnight EST, May 15, 2021.

Please review the application instructions prior to beginning your bar exam application.

Re-Examinee and Transfer Information

Re-Exams. A re-exam form is provided to applicable applicants with their official exam results. A duplicate re-exam form may be obtained by contacting the State Board of Law Examiners, P.O. Box 30052, Lansing, MI 48909, phone (517) 373-4453.

Exam Transfer. To transfer to another exam date, send a written notice to the State Board of Law Examiners, P.O. Box 30052, Lansing, MI 48909. Please see the instructions for fee information.

Frequently Asked Questions

Board of Law Examiners—Frequently Asked Questions

What does the Character and Fitness review consider?

As representatives of clients and officers of the court, lawyers hold a special position of trust within society. The Character and Fitness portion of the bar examination evaluates whether an applicant possesses the “good moral character” needed to practice law. Applicants are examined based on a number of factors, such as past criminal conduct, academic misconduct, violations of court orders, employment misconduct, and drug and alcohol dependency. Political statements and opinions are not considered in determining an applicant’s fitness to practice law. An applicant’s candor throughout the character and fitness process is often the most telling indicator of the applicant’s current fitness to practice law.   

Related: Unraveling the mystery of the Character and Fitness process 

Who do I contact for assistance with a problem/error message received when processing my application? Please contact the Character & Fitness Department, or (517) 367-6510. Note: Our office hours are 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday.

How long is my C&F certification valid? Character and Fitness clearance is valid for three years. The three-year period begins with the exam first applied for by the applicant, regardless of when clearance is obtained and whether the applicant actually sat for that examination. For example, an applicant applying for the February 2013 examination and receiving character and fitness clearance, would need to be re-approved before being allowed to sit for the February 2016 examination. Applicants not passing the examination within three years after receiving clearance must again be approved by the State Bar Standing Committee on Character and Fitness, (Rules for the Board of Law Examiners Policy Statement 2(C)-1. Duration of Character and Fitness Clearance.)

What is required to receive certified bar examination results? The Board of Law Examiners must receive certification of the applicant's:

  • Graduation from law school
  • Character & Fitness
  • Passing score on the MPRE

Who do I notify if I will not be able to sit at the exam for which I applied? Notify the State Board of Law Examiners in writing if you wish to transfer to a future exam, or wish to withdraw from the Michigan exam. There is a $100 fee to transfer to a future exam. Please see the instructions for additional transfer information.

The Character & Fitness processing will continue unless you formally withdraw your application. Your written request to withdraw must be sent to the State Bar of Michigan Character & Fitness Department. There is a $200 re-activation fee.

I need to re-take the exam. How do I sign up? The Board of Law Examiners includes a re-exam form with certified notification of failing bar exam scores. Complete the re-exam form and return it, with the re-exam fee, to the Board of Law Examiners. The Character & Fitness certification is generally valid for 3 years from the certification date or the first exam date for which you applied. If your Character & Fitness certification has expired, you will be required to complete a new Affidavit of Personal History (bar application) and pay additional fees.

Can I submit my application without my out-of-state criminal clearances or driving records? Yes. Electronically submitting the application is the first step. Then, after you submit the required Waiver and Release to the Character & Fitness Department, the forms needed to request the out-of-state criminal clearances and driving records will be mailed to you. Using the provided forms to request this third-party information will make the task much easier for you.

Where do I find information about the MPRE? Information can be obtained from the National Conference of Bar Examiners. The application for the MPRE may also be available at a Michigan law school. For records, contact the NCBE. Score information is available at BLE FAQ #7.

How do I transfer my MBE score? See the F-2 form or contact the Board of Law Examiners at (517) 373-4453. For information on the MBE exam please see the NCBE website. Please note, there is a deadline to perfect the right to transfer your MBE scores to the Board of Law Examiners.

I need special accommodations when I take the bar exam. How do I make arrangements? Special accommodations are available on a showing that the applicant has a disability or medical condition warranting such accommodations. The Board of Law Examiners employs the Americans With Disabilities Act standard, i.e., that a person is disabled if that individual has "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual." See 42 USC 12102. A Special Accommodations Questionnaire and Affidavit is available from the Board. The request must be filed not later than May 15 for the July examination and not later than December 15 for the February examination.

When will I get my admission certificate for the bar examination? During the first week of the month of your scheduled bar examination, the State Board of Law Examiners will mail your admission certificate and information about the bar examination to your "Permanent Address," as provided on the Application to Sit (F-1) form. Once the admission certificates are deposited in the mail, you must wait 10 days prior to contacting the BLE for a duplicate mailing. If you have a change in address, you must notify the Board in writing: PO Box 30052, Lansing, MI 48909.

Where is the exam held? What are the exam dates? Please see the Exam Dates/Location information.

What can I bring to the Bar Exam? The Board of Law Examiners’ policy regarding items that may be brought into the examination room and/or testing area may be reviewed at the Board of Law Examiners’ website.

How do I know if the State Bar of Michigan has received my application? Electronic application submission and fee payment is required as of the February 2016 bar exam. A receipt will be issued immediately upon completing the submission process. The payment receipt is your assurance that the application and fees have been received at the State Bar of Michigan. However, as stated in the instructions, work will not begin on your Character & Fitness application until the executed Waiver and Release is received. The Waiver and Release must be submitted to the Character & Fitness office within two weeks of uploading the application and paying fees.

Other bar applicants have already received their Character & Fitness certification, and I haven't received mine. All applications are reviewed individually and the amount of time necessary to process and investigate is dependent upon each applicant's circumstances, cooperation, and the receipt of third-party responses. If the Character & Fitness Investigators need additional information, you will be notified by email or letter. "Status" letters are mailed periodically to notify bar applicants of outstanding application information. A bar applicant’s timely responses to requests for additional information, and follow up with outside agencies, greatly impacts the speed with which their file can be completed and moved on to the next step, either approval or referral for a District Committee interview. All applicants may be permitted to sit for the Michigan bar exam one time, prior to receiving Character & Fitness certification. The Board is not required by the rules to permit anyone to sit for an examination pending the fulfillment of those requirements. As a matter of grace the Board has permitted applicants to sit for one and only one examination pending Character and Fitness and MPRE clearances. However, certified bar exam results will not be released by the Board of Law Examiners, and the bar exam may not be re-taken, until Character & Fitness has been certified.

Do I need a certified driving record from a state in which I lived but never held a driver's license? See Required Third Party Information Instructions at Step 3.

My out-of-state criminal clearances haven't been received yet. Will I be charged late fees? Electronically submitting the application is the first step. Then, after you submit the required Waiver and Release to the Character & Fitness Department, the forms needed to request the out-of-state criminal clearances and driving records will be mailed to you. Using the provided forms to request this third-party information will make the task much easier for you.

I do not have five people who have known me for 5 years to list as references. What do I do? You must supply a written explanation if a reference person has not known you for the required five-year time period, and ask for a waiver of that requirement. An F-6 Supplemental Answer Sheet must be used for your waiver request and it should be submitted with the executed Waiver and Release. Anyone related to you through blood or marriage may not serve as a reference, although your references may be related to each other.

What if I cannot remember the complete address for my residence or employment history? Please be as specific as possible by providing all available information to the best of your recollection. For example, if you do not recall the dormitory or apartment number for a previous residence, indicate the street address or dormitory name with the city and state. Do not provide mailing addresses (such as post office boxes), but rather the addresses of the places where you actually resided. When completing your employment history, list the address of the location where you worked, not the company's corporate headquarters.

Do all of my application exhibits need to be notarized? No. The only exhibits that need to be notarized are foreign documents translated into English.

Where do I send my application? Electronic application submission and fee payment is required as of the February 2016 bar exam. Supplemental materials should be sent after your application has been electronically submitted and mailed/delivered to the State Bar of Michigan. Step 4.

Can I send personal checks for the examination and investigation fees? No. Electronic fee payment is required for the initial examination and investigation fees. Visa and Mastercard are accepted. Transfer and re-examination fees, which are mailed directly to the Board of Law Examiners, must be paid with a certified check or money order.

Should supplemental application materials be single or double sided? Original documents received from third-party agencies, such as police stations and courts, may be double sided. When submitting supplemental documents, please use paper clips and binder clips; do not use staples, plastic comb binding, 3-ring binder, or tabs.

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Who to Contact

State Board of Law Examiners

Mail: P.O. Box 30052, Lansing, MI 48909
Phone: (517) 373-4453

State Bar of Michigan Character & Fitness Department

Mail: State Bar of Michigan, Attn: C&F, 306 Townsend St., Lansing MI 48933
Phone: (517) 367-6510

  • Bar exam application registration, completion, and payment questions.
  • Information about the character and fitness process can be found in the application instructions.

National Conference of Bar Examiners

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