Rhode Was Right (About Character and Fitness)

March 1, 2023

In this Essay, Professor Leslie C. Levin revives Professor Deborah L. Rhode’s forty-year-old critique of the character and fitness process and shows that not much has changed. Levin exposes the process’s core problems, including the lack of public information available about character and fitness decisions, the process’s subjectivity, the disconnect between information sought and future lawyer misconduct, and the deterrent effect on individuals considering a legal career. Levin proposes that task forces reexamine problematic application questions, such as those targeting decriminalized conduct and mental health, and push for more transparency and disclosure.

This Essay was prepared for the Colloquium entitled In Memory of Deborah Rhode, hosted by the Fordham Law Review and co-organized by the Stein Center for Law and Ethics on October 21, 2022, at Fordham University School of Law.

March 2023

No. 4