Can Good Character Be Made Better? Assessing the Federation of Law Societies’ Proposed Reform of the Good Character Requirement for Law Society Admission
Canadian Journal of Administrative Law and Practice, 2013
41 Pages Posted: 10 May 2013
Date Written: May 9, 2013
The Federation of Law Societies has announced that it will be recommending that law societies move from reviewing the “good character” of applicants for law society of admission to focus instead on applicants’ “suitability” for legal practice. This paper considers whether the Federation’s approach would address sufficiently the problems with the good character requirement as currently administered. It argues that while the Federation’s approach would be an improvement, a better approach would be to eliminate character based review of applicants entirely, or to adopt blanket exclusionary rules to prevent, e.g., admission of individuals with significant criminal records. It also argues that any reform of the good character requirement must be coupled with the introduction of proper procedural fairness for applicants. The current process for reviewing applicant character offends fundamental fairness and contributes to incoherent and unjust decisions in individual cases.
Keywords: legal ethics, professional regulation, character
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