Presented by TransCen, Inc. and the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center
Jennifer Mathis Deputy Legal Director & Director of Policy Legal Advocacy with Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law will present this session.
This 30-minute webinar session focused on legal developments concerning state bar examiners' use of mental health questions to determine bar applicants' fitness to practice law and the use of "conditional admission" to the bar for applicants with mental health histories. Ms. Mathis discussed the Justice Department's 2014 letter finding violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act in Louisiana's use of mental health questions and condition admission for bar applicants, the settlement entered between the Justice Department and the Louisiana Supreme Court, subsequent changes to the use of mental health questions to determine fitness of bar applicants in other states, as well as pending legal challenges to these questions in some states.
Most state bar examiners ask questions about the mental health of individuals applying for a license to practice law. These questions often ask about applicants' mental health status, history, and treatment, regardless of whether it has ever resulted in conduct that would call into question an applicant's fitness to practice law. In many states, positive answers to these questions may result in an individual receiving a probationary or "conditional admission" to practice, during which he or she must comply with onerous conditions such as submitting to and paying for monitoring by a psychiatrist and, in some cases, providing the psychiatrists' reports to the individual's employer. The use of mental health questions as well as "conditional admission" may discriminate against bar applicants and members with disabilities in a number of ways.
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