Necessary to disclose PTSD treatment for the bar exam?

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lawschoolwoohoo
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Necessary to disclose PTSD treatment for the bar exam?

Postby lawschoolwoohoo » Sat Jun 22, 2013 2:41 am

Possibly a stupid question, but one I'm concerned about. Does the bar exam require a person to disclose a history of psychological treatment or illness? I am starting law school in the fall, but a psychologist has suggested I have developed PTSD due to an extremely traumatic experience a few months ago. I would like to get treatment for my PTSD symptoms, but as I am doing a decent job at managing them on my own and have no C&F issues going in, want to be sure that any treatment I would have would not jeopardize my later chances at the bar. I feel only the treatment could improve my life and possibly make me even more stable and confident starting school in the fall.

So, essentially, if I do go forward with treatment would that possibly make me illegible to become a lawyer? I don't want this to haunt me in the future, as I have gotten this far with no history of mental instability or illness, a solid academic record, and no C&F problems.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Necessary to disclose PTSD treatment for the bar exam?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Jun 22, 2013 12:22 pm

Many (most? probably) states will ask you about mental health treatment, yes. My state asks expressly if you've received treatment or been diagnosed. However, I don't think in itself it will prevent you practicing as a lawyer, especially if you can say you took responsibility and treated the problem. My state's instructions say:

"The mere fact of treatment for mental health problems or chemical or psychological dependency is not, in itself, a basis on which an applicant is ordinarily denied admission to the [state] bar. The Board of Law Examiners regularly recommends licensing of individuals who have demonstrated personal responsibility and maturity in dealing with mental health and chemical or psychological dependency issues. The Board encourages applicants who may benefit from treatment to seek it. As indicated in the Rules Governing Admission to the Bar, all proceedings conducted pursuant to the Rules are confidential, with certain limited and enumerated exceptions; further, no information is disclosed without giving the applicant advance notice and an opportunity to object.

"On occasion a license may be denied when an applicant’s ability to function is impaired in a manner relevant to the practice of law at the time that the licensing decision is made, or when an applicant demonstrates a lack of candor by his or her responses. Protection of the public that will receive legal services underlies the licensing responsibilities assigned to the Board of Law Examiners. Furthermore, each applicant is responsible for demonstrating that he or she possesses the qualifications necessary to practice law. Your response may include information as to why, in your opinion or that of your treatment provider, your condition will not affect your ability to practice law in a competent and professional manner."

I didn't have to disclose for my state bar because of the time frame involved, but I have been treated for depression in the past, and I have had to disclose it for a different background check that went further back. I had statements from my treatment providers saying it wasn't something that would hinder my job performance, and it was no problem. Obviously that's not the same as PTSD, but it doesn't sound to me like you would have any problem - especially if you get treatment at the start of law school, so that by the time you apply for the bar you (hopefully/presumably) won't be suffering acutely. I think you really have to be incapable of managing someone else's affairs to get dinged for mental health.

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lawschoolwoohoo
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Re: Necessary to disclose PTSD treatment for the bar exam?

Postby lawschoolwoohoo » Tue Jun 25, 2013 1:26 am

Thank you so much for your reply. It really helped me consider the costs and benefits of seeking treatment. I have decided to go ahead with a few sessions, because I think you make a really valid point that my seeking treatment can show taking responsibility for my own health and working to become the best and most successful individual that I can. The practitioner with whom I was considering working suggested that there were some short-term treatment options which could alleviate my PTSD symptoms (flashbacks, nightmares, etc), so by the time I take the bar, the treatment would have been years past.

Thank you again so much!




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