Mental Health no Longer a Disqualifying Factor to Becoming a Lawyer in New Hampshire

Mental Health no Longer a Disqualifying Factor to Becoming a Lawyer in New Hampshire


The New Hampshire Supreme Court and the Board of Bar Examiners have removed questions about mental health history, diagnosis and treatment from the New Hampshire bar admission application, which is the application a lawyer must submit to be granted license to practice law in the state. In a press release, the New Hampshire Supreme Court Committee on Character and Fitness says it "was persuaded that the questions discouraged law students and others from seeking necessary treatment for mental health and substance abuse problems."

"We believe removing these questions will encourage law students and attorneys to stay healthy and seek treatment when needed.” - character and fitness committee chair Joseph F. McDowell, III, Esquire

According to the National Institutes of Health, over 20% of American lawyers have alcohol abuse problems, 28% experience depression, and 19% experience anxiety. Further compounding these numbers, ALM (a media company headquartered in the Equitable Building in New York City, and is a provider of specialized business news and information, focused primarily on the legal, among others) conducted a survey wherein amongst the more than 3,800 respondents, 64% felt they have anxiety, 31.2% feel they have depression, 10.1% feel they have an alcohol problem, and 2.8% feel they have a drug problem. According to the press release, "A 2014 Survey of Law Student Well-Being sponsored by the American Bar Association reported that applicants’ perception that mental health and substance abuse treatment would have a negative impact on admission was a primary factor in the students not seeking help."

The press release also notes that "New Hampshire has joined with at least a dozen other jurisdictions," although it does not specify whether these are smaller jurisdictions within the state, or other states. Regardless, this is a big win for NH law students and lawyers, who no longer have to choose between their mental wellbeing and their future profession.


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