California's website has a statement about this: it says that bankruptcy is not necessarily in and of itself evidence of a character issue, but could be if it bankruptcy was an effort to defraud creditors. In my opinion, if you were genuinely young and stupid about your credit and availed yourself to the federally legislated protetction of bankruptcy, it won't be a problem. Five years of clean credit will more than prove that it was an isolated incident and that you have rehabilitated yourself. Supposedly some very wealthy people repeatedly declare bankruptcy to escape debts when they are far from a financial rock-bottom because their homes and possessions are somehow untouchable. On the other hand, lots of young people get into deep credit-related trouble while in college. Troubles like the latter are the reason why the United States government has chosen to protect people with these laws! Bankruptcy costs people enough without also derailing a potential law career. I have never once heard of someone not being admitted to the bar because they had declared bankruptcy. The common debt problems you read about being an issue are defaulted student loans (they require you to get them rehabilitated and start paying to be admitted) and ignoring court ordered financial obligations like child support (which shows more than financial irresponsibility because you are showing no respect for the very legal system you are now asking to serve). I really do think you'll be fine, and would hate to see a promising legal career be derailed because of these silly fears. Go to law school and good luck.