The character and fitness portion of the bar exam serves the purpose of ensuring that barred attorneys are morally fit for the practice of law and deserving of the trust of the people. The character and fitness questionnaire usually asks about past criminal conduct or civil violations, academic or employment misconduct, mental health or substance abuse issues, and financial history. If an applicant does not pass the character and fitness portion of the bar, they cannot sit for the test portion.
If an applicant has prior transgressions, it does not mean they are automatically disqualified from the bar. An applicant must show they appreciate the wrongfulness of their past misconduct and they understand professional conduct for Massachusetts lawyers. The applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. This was the question in Lionel Porter v. Board of Bar Examiners decided by the Supreme Judicial Court.
What prior transgressions did Lionel Porter have?