Professor Lisa McElroy weighed in on a proposed American Bar Association resolution urging attorney licensing bodies to eliminate questions about candidates’ mental health history in a July 30 article in the National Law Journal (subscription required).
Currently, licensing bodies in most states require applicants to the bar to disclose their mental health history during the character-and-fitness review process.
“Diagnosis does not equal problem,” said McElroy, who disclosed in a 2013 article in Slate that she has an anxiety disorder and has subsequently written about the ways that the stigma surrounding mental illness discourages attorneys from seeking needed help.
The NLJ article cites research that found attorneys have a high rate of suicide and notes that the ABA Commission on Disability Rights and the Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities have co-sponsored a resolution proposing that questions by licensing agencies about mental health background should focus exclusively on conduct or behavior that impairs a bar candidate’s ability to practice.
The ABA House of Delegates is slated to review the resolution in August.