A number of states have modified the questions on the Character and Fitness portion of their application for bar admission addressing an applicant’s substance use and mental health disorders. While some have eliminated the questions altogether, others continue to pose questions that are overly broad and unnecessarily invasive. These questions create a significant chilling effect on future applicants seeking help while they are in law school. Students in need of services avoid seeking treatment and support for fear not being admitted to the bar, or that their admission will be delayed based on how they respond to these questions even if they successfully put their lives in order. These outdated questions remain though a clarion call is echoing across the nation to do away with or modify them. This article argues that the removal of intrusive character and fitness questions on mental health and substance use, while retaining questions that focus solely on conduct or behavior, will facilitate appropriate help-seeking activities while in law school, and ultimately lead to a healthier and more competent bar.

View Article