Unlocking the Bar

Stanford Criminal Justice Center (SCJC) 61

In collaboration with the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession, the Stanford Criminal Justice Center is leading a project to increase the participation of people with criminal records in the legal profession who often have an interest in pursuing legal careers, but face challenges in being admitted to law school and overcoming the moral character requirement to state bar admission. Our new report identifies a range of successive obstacles to becoming a lawyer in California, including the pipeline of college graduates, admission to law school, support and success in law school, and admission to the California State Bar. It recommends ways each of these barriers can be overcome to expand access to the legal profession for qualified people with criminal records. The Report includes new research, including surveys with formerly incarcerated people, analysis of California law schools and California State Bar disclosure requirements, and analysis of other states’ moral character requirements. It also synthesizes existing research on the relevance of moral character requirements, the likelihood of criminal re-offending, and interest among formerly incarcerated people in joining professions where they can mentor and help others.

read the report