Initiative Will Examine Bar Application to Ensure Mental Health
Treatment Does Not Negatively Impact Admission
York State Bar Association (NYSBA) President Henry M. Greenberg has announced
the establishment of a blue-ribbon multidisciplinary task force that will
review the state’s bar application questionnaire to ensure mental health
treatment will not be a deterrence to gaining admission.
is committed to fostering the next generation of healthy, competent, and
dedicated lawyers,” said NYSBA President Henry M. Greenberg. “Seeking
help for anxiety, stress, or other mental health issues should be encouraged,
supported and rewarded.
idea that bravely and smartly addressing one’s personal challenges early on
could have a negative impact on admission to the bar is not consistent with our
profession’s core values,” continued Greenberg. “The review of the bar
application’s questionnaire is an important first step in our efforts to help
law students become healthy lawyers.”
studies have shown that law school students are experiencing these issues at
alarming rates and are not seeking the help they need because they are
concerned that doing so will negatively impact their bar admission.
fact, a recent American Bar Association study discovered that 42 percent of
surveyed law students believed they needed help for emotional or mental health
issues in the past year, but only half sought assistance. That is because 45
percent of the respondents feared that seeking help could pose a threat to
their bar admission.
February 2019, the Conference of Chief Justices passed a resolution urging its
members and state and territorial bar admission authorities to eliminate from
bar admission applications any questions that ask about “mental health history,
diagnosis, or treatment” and to instead use questions that only focus on an
task force will review questions on the New York bar application’s character
and fitness questionnaire that address an applicant’s mental health issues to
determine if they comport with the nationally endorsed recommendations found in
the Conference of Chief Justices’ resolution.
asked NYSBA’s Young Lawyers Section, Committee on Disability Rights,
Committee on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar, Law Practice
Management’s Attorney Wellness Sub-Committee, and Lawyer Assistance Committee,
to appoint representatives to serve on the task force and issue recommendations
for comment and possible adoption at NYSBA’s November 2019 House of Delegates
also announced today that retired Third Department Presiding Justice Karen K.
Peters and retired Family Court Judge Sarah (Sallie) L. Krauss will work with
NYSBA in the coming months to review and improve the association’s well-being
and wellness programs for attorneys and judges.
About the New York State Bar
New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association
in the nation. Since 1876, NYSBA has helped shape the development of law,
educated and informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the
rights of New Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.