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Author Topic: Will a past history of depression cause me trouble for Character and Fitness?  (Read 1784 times)

eric922

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This is a bit hard for me to post, but I am kind of worried so I thought I would go ahead and ask for answers.  When I was 16 or 17, honestly I can't remember, I went through a stage of severe depression and tried to commit suicide. The head psychiatrist at the hospital released me the next day saying that due to the fact that due to the circumstances such as the fact that I quickly realized my mistake and called for help I was okay to go home as long as someone stayed with me.  For awhile I was on medication for it, but I no longer need it.  I still see the doctor once a year, but even he admits I don't need to see him.  The only reason I do is for my parent's peace of mind.  By the time I graduate from law school it will have been a decade without any problems.  I'm just a bit worried the Bar or admissions will hold it against me. 

Groundhog

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The specifics will depend on your state, but generally, a history of mental illness by itself is not sufficient grounds to deny you a positive moral character determination. The determination is based off of whether or not you have a condition that would prevent you from practicing law.

livinglegend

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Yea you will probably need to disclose it on your moral character application when you apply for the bar, but they will probably will let you in, but I would contact the state bar you are planning on joining and ask what their rules on it are. Better to find out it won't work now rather than spend 100,000 and 3 years of your life, but I would imagine it wouldn't be an issue. However, it is certainly worth checking into good luck.

eric922

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All right I'll check it out, but based on what you all have said I think I'll. I will have been over a decade with no mental illness and I don't currently have any mental problems and I'm sure I can back that up with proof from a medical doctor if the Bar requires it.  If anyone has anymore advice I'd be very grateful to hear it. 

Maintain FL 350

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Like Livinglegend said, you're probably fine as long as you disclose it. I think you're required to disclose any history of psychiatric care (at least in CA). I don't think that a problem so far in the past, especially without a recurrence, would cause any problems. Thousands of people apply to the bar every year, and I'm sure that many have had similar issues. This isn't going to be something they haven't seen before.

That said, you should of course contact your state bar and get the answers straight from them. Anything you get here is just an educated guess!

livinglegend

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Yes I also think a state bar would legally have a tough time preventing you from practicing law based on you receiving professional treatment. It sounds like you had a problem and you treated it, which the state bar should be encouraging.

I truly think the only way something like this could get you in trouble is if you lie about it. Lying to the State Bar can get you in trouble, but being candid and telling them when you were 17 you had depression issues and received treatment should not be something that bars you from the practice of law. I imagine if it comes to that you could have a lawsuit on your hands so just be honest and disclose.


eric922

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Thanks for all the advice guys. I feel a lot better about it now.  I don't know if law school applications ask about mental health history or not, but if they do I'll be sure to disclose it and I'll certainly disclose it during the character and fitness portion when applying for the Bar.

Groundhog

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I don't think most law school applications ask about that. And, at least for CA, the state bar questionnaire asks about fitness to practice law. I'd be extremely surprised if, absent other circumstances, a history of depression alone caused any eyebrow raising at the moral character and fitness committee. A recent DUI, on the other hand...

eric922

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I don't think most law school applications ask about that. And, at least for CA, the state bar questionnaire asks about fitness to practice law. I'd be extremely surprised if, absent other circumstances, a history of depression alone caused any eyebrow raising at the moral character and fitness committee. A recent DUI, on the other hand...
To be frankly honest I would be shocked as well.  I mean attempted suicide is a big deal, but given the circumstances and the amount of time that will have passed without any mental health problems I can't imagine how any state bar would decide a decade old incident would make me unfit to currently practice law.  To me that would be extremely, well, unjust.

livinglegend

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The California Bar Moral Character application does ask about any mental health treatment or diagnosis, but again I think the only way you can get in trouble is by not being candid. To get closure on this call your state bar and ask them. I remember being scared about a few moral character issues, but I simply called the bar and the person on the other line was very friendly and said I would be fine, but they know more than any anonymous internet poster.

Again good luck as you start law school.