Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Connecticut Adds Depression Question to Bar Application

See this piece on law.com. It begins:

If Abraham Lincoln were alive, he would encounter several difficulties gaining admittance to the Connecticut Bar -- assuming he deserved his reputation both for honesty and for 'melancholia.'

That's because the state's Bar Examining Committee has re-introduced depression as one of the conditions listed on the mental health section of the bar application. Depression made the list in July 2000, but public outcry led to its removal -- until now.

The amended question 35 for the July 2006 application is one of several changes that has reignited a fiery reaction from opponents, who view the wording of the CBEC's mental health inquiry -- which includes a request for psychiatric records -- as an unconstitutional invasion of privacy.

"I was really shocked when I saw these new questions," said Jon Bauer, a clinical law professor at the University of Connecticut. "This could be a major disincentive for people to seek treatment" for health matters, out of fear of repercussions following disclosure.

A 12-year effort to align the state's bar application questions with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act hit a snag when, on March 3, the full CBEC voted to add to the current list of conditions requiring disclosure.

By adding depression to an inquiry that identifies mental health and chemical or psychological dependency matters, the CBEC has broadened rather than narrowed the scope of an already too extensive set of 50 questions, Bauer said.

This is pretty amazing. I wonder what was the crying need for this change.


Blogger Zoe Strickman said...

I want to point out that I am eligible to take the bar exam, but during my 2nd year, I went to a psychologist to get help with my stress levels and sleeping patterns and I was diagnosed as bipolar.

I am very interested in practicing in Connecticut, but I have elected NOT to apply for admission in that state. I do not feel that the bar examiners have a right to judge my fitness as a laywer based on a condition that may or may not be a proper diagnosis. Plus, the only reason this condition was discovered is because I sought medical help to focus better in law school. Now I have a bipolar diagnosis and I don't know what to do. I am not sick, nor am I a bad person.

4:23 PM  

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