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Law Students and Lawyers with Mental Health and Substance Abuse Problems: Protecting the Public and the Individual

37 Pages Posted: 4 Nov 2008 Last revised: 3 Feb 2009

Laura Rothstein

University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law

Date Written: October 31, 2008

Abstract

Data on the incidence of mental impairment or substance abuse and addiction is difficult to obtain, but there is evidence that lawyers and law students have a high rate of depression and substance abuse. Because of the high stakes involved in the legal profession and the stigma attached to mental health and substance abuse problems, individuals with these problems are often reluctant to seek help. Even if the prevalence of mental health or substance abuse problems were no higher for lawyers compared with the general population, the consequences of such impairment are significant for the individuals, the public, law schools, legal employers, and bar admission authorities. The article provides an overview of the policies, practices, and procedures affecting individuals with mental and substance abuse impairments at various stages of entering and continuing in the legal profession and reviews how these policies are applied in the admission to and enrollment in law school, professional licensing, and employment.

The article evaluates whether these policies, practices, and procedures appropriately address and balance the concerns of the individual with the interests of others. Comparisons to the medical profession are discussed. The article concludes by offering recommendations to improve the handling of these issues.

Keywords: mental health, substance abuse, disabilities, licensing, law students, lawyers, mental illness, bar admissions,

JEL Classification: K23, K31, K32, K42

Suggested Citation

Rothstein, Laura, Law Students and Lawyers with Mental Health and Substance Abuse Problems: Protecting the Public and the Individual (October 31, 2008). University of Pittsburgh Law Review, Vol. 69, No. 3, 2008; University of Louisville School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 2009-01. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1292830

Laura Rothstein (Contact Author)

University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law ( email )

Wilson W. Wyatt Hall
Louisville, KY 40292
United States
502-852-6288 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.louisville.edu/

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