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BELOW YOU CAN FIND answers to non-legal questions about the human side of lawyering.  Answers are written by licensed clinicians with the purpose of providing information, and are not a substitute for a clinical evaluation.

WE DO NOT POST RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS that seem frivolous or unrelated to our mission — or that don’t seem to be from Massachusetts lawyers, law students, judges (or family members). We have no way to check back with you, because of the mechanism that keeps this anonymous.

FOR INQUIRIES REGARDING BAR ADMISSIONS, including completion of bar admission applications and requirements for disclosure of information, contact to the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners, by email to info@bbe.state.ma.us, or by telephone at (617) 482-4466. The Board of Bar Examiners welcomes these inquiries. Please note that telephone inquiries may be handled ANONYMOUSLY at the request of the caller.

CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT AN ANONYMOUS QUESTION

Click any of the topics in the list below to access archived Q&A.

Most Recent Question(s)

Q: Do I need to report a welfare benefits hearing or an SSI hearing that was in my favor? Do I have to reveal the amount of my student loans even if they are not in default? Do I have to provide a credit report if I my character and fitness is being reviewed? I have credit card debt from 18 years ago. Do I report it? (Submitted August 2019)

[Filed under Career + Practice Concerns]

ANSWER:

Financial Provisions are covered through the link to a database listing by state of Nationwide Mental Health Questions for Bar Application Character + Fitness — it also includes questions on Mental Health, naturally, Substance Use Provisions;  and School, Criminal History, and Other Disciplinary Provisions. Although we can’t provide legal advice on your bar application, a legal petition to the court for admission — the database indicates the only question in the “Financial Provisions” column for Massachusetts questions asks whether you have been adjudged bankrupt or insolvent.

You can find Character and Fitness Standards for Bar Admission in Massachusetts here.

You can also find BBE FAQ on Character and Fitness.

Our anonymous online Q&A is designed to address clinical matters, including stress, relationships, career dissatisfaction, mood/addiction difficulties, etc. We do not have the capacity to respond to volumes of questions about requirements for admission to the bar, as a caution to those with similar inquiries.

FOR INQUIRIES REGARDING BAR ADMISSIONS, including completion of bar admission applications and requirements for disclosure of information, contact to the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners, by email to info@bbe.state.ma.us, or by telephone at (617) 482-4466. The Board of Bar Examiners welcomes these inquiries. Please note that telephone inquiries may be handled anonymously at the request of the caller.

If you need help coping with the stress related to the character & fitness process, find more on scheduling a Free & Confidential appointment here.

Q: Are there any recovery support groups for judges in Western Massachusetts? (Submitted July 2019)

[Filed under Addiction + Addictive Behaviors]

ANSWER:

Thanks for this great question! While judges are welcome at our Springfield meeting, we do not currently run a recovery peer support group that is exclusively only for judges.

Our addiction recovery peer support group meeting in Springfield is exclusively for lawyers, judges, law students, and other legal professionals. It meets on the third Tuesday of every month at the Springfield Sheraton — find more here. Judges are welcome and encouraged to attend this, and all attendees are made aware at the start of every meeting about the strict confidentiality of our groups.

While we encourage judges to attend our Springfield meeting, we understand that this can be difficult. Judges may feel that their struggles are different than attorneys’ and be hesitant to share, or they worry about sharing personal concerns or questions with lawyers who may end up appearing in front of them.

If you would like to discuss these types of challenges and explore starting a judges group in Western Massachusetts or just talk with someone, we encourage you to contact our executive director, Anna Levine, who has a lot of experience in the area of recovery and who lives in Western Massachusetts. Although Anna is a licensed attorney, she is not currently practicing and therefore there would be zero risk of her appearing in front of judges that might participate in such a group. Anna will hold in strictest confidence the content of any meetings you or anyone else might have with her.

Anna can be reached at anna@lclma.org or 617-482-9600.

We encourage others in the legal profession to contact Anna (above) to express interest in forming an addiction recovery peer support group meeting in a new location — whether for judges or the legal profession generally.

We also encourage lawyers, judges, and law students in Massachusetts to talk with one of our clinicians to help find the right support. Find more on scheduling a Free & Confidential appointment here.

Q: During the character and fitness investigation process, do state boards of bar examiners typically contact applicants’ attended undergraduate institutions to confirm/inquire into academic disciplinary issues, e.g., academic probation for scholastic deficiency, without cause? Do they send forms to applicants’ undergraduate institutions, similar to dean’s certifications during the application process, to undergraduate institution officials to complete? (Submitted July 2019)

[Filed under Career + Practice Concerns]

We focus on human/clinical issues, so our response here cannot be considered definitive, but our understanding is that applicants for bar admission should expect that bar admissions authorities will contact undergraduate institutions, in telephonic and/or written form, to verify and further investigate issues of discipline and honor code violations.  In general, when dealing with Boards in Massachusetts, our distinct impression is that withholding relevant information is more of a concern that having had a problem, if that problem has been appropriately addressed.

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