Lawyers of Sound Mind?

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act forbids public entities to administer licensing programs that discriminate against qualified candidates on the basis of disability. This op-ed in the New York Times makes the argument that denial of admission to state bars on the basis of mental illness is not only unethical, but is also a violation of such law. Currently, many states include the following question in their character and fitness application: “Within the past five years, have you been diagnosed with or have you been treated for bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, paranoia or any other psychotic disorder?” In some cases acknowledging psychiatric disorders prompts further investigation, delays the process, and can lead to conditional licenses. And yet, there is no evidence to suggest that lawyers with mental illness are any less ethical or capable than other lawyers.

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