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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.

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.

We will post your question and our answer on this page. Please indicate any details you would like us to exclude from posting. 

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 — consider using the option below.

Only a licensed clinician will see your question, will treat it confidentially (with the same exceptions that apply when seeing any licensed mental health provider), and will respond to your question privately.

Most Recent Question(s)

Q: I have passed the Bar Exam and been sworn in. I have a job, and yet I am still finding it hard to get passed my anxiety and general sense of feeling physically unwell. I've gone to doctors to see if there was any physical reason for feeling so poorly, but generally I seem to be healthy. Is there any resource for someone who has made it past all of the hurdles and yet still is struggling to recover and return to an emotional balance afterwords. I feel very alone in this feeling. I should be happy, now I'm just feeling lost. I tend to be a self-helper type, but I can find no accounts of anyone with my particular circumstances. (Submitted November 2019).

ANSWER:

There is so often a discrepancy between how we think we “should” feel and how we actually feel. Our feelings, as it happens, don’t comply with the external rules we try to apply.

Anxiety can be elicited by a myriad of sources, both external and internal. Getting over one hurdle while facing another (e.g., “Yay, I got into the elite college I wanted, but … oh, now I have to perform academically”) certainly does not erase it. You were wise to check out any possible physical/medical issues, but the mind and body are so closely linked that anxiety is commonly experienced somatically. The very high rates of depression/anxiety symptoms among lawyers (whether or not they’ve passed the bar yet) can serve as a reminder that you are far from alone.

Why not call or email to arrange an appointment to take a closer look at all of this with one of our licensed clinicians at LCL? It’s Free & Confidential. Find more on scheduling here — a review of measures that might help you feel better would follow an appointment.

[Filed under Depression & Mood Problems]

Q: A long time friend and classmate of mine is a very good lawyer with a very active mental health issue. He is a manic depressive, has been hospitalized in the past for his mental health issues and for self medicating. For the last 6 years or so he has been compliant with his medication regimen and built up his practice. But since this past summer he has been in a downward spiral. I believe he stopped taking his medication. He has quickly lost a considerable amount of weight, is rambling a lot, disheveled and smoking a lot of marijuana. I’m afraid he is going to end up ruining his reputation and end up the respondent in a mental health commitment hearing. He will not listen to anyone. Does he have to hit rock bottom and end up committed to a mental health unit to get help or is there a way of getting him help prior to involuntary hospitalization? Any advise would greatly be appreciated. Thanks. (Submitted November 2019).

ANSWER:

Unfortunately, it is not at all unusual for people with bipolar disorder to convince themselves that they no longer need their medications, and, also unfortunately, this is a chronic illness that does not go away. Often, people miss some of the qualities of a manic state (such as high energy, quickly-developing ideas, great expectations and confidence) and hate to give it up.  In all these ways, there is significant overlap with addiction, and with the risk of relapse. Cannabis is a frequent choice when people decide to medicate themselves; while cannabis does appear to have therapeutic properties for some conditions, it is not at all a treatment for bipolar disorder.

As with addiction, one can attempt to intervene, which typically involves several of the people closest to the individual who conceptualize his condition in the same way and give him the same message including a strong push toward getting help and continuing to use it. LCL staff would be glad to talk and brainstorm with you about that — call (617) 482-9600 or email drjeff@lclma.org. Otherwise, he may indeed need to run into some kind of consequence that he cannot ignore. We are all very fortunate to live in a free society, but one down-side is that we have no significant power to control or restrain the behavior and choices of others, even when they make awful choices.

Involuntary hospitalization can be an option for someone with bipolar illness, but only when his behavior becomes imminently dangerous or he is clearly way out of touch with reality. If you happen to know who his treatment provider is, the most direct way to make that happen would be a call to the provider (who will not be able to disclose information to you but can acquire information from you).

[Filed under Depression & Mood Problems]

Q: [This is a partially redacted and reworded version of the question submitted primarily to enhance anonymity.] Looking for a support group for spouse of addicted lawyer. Husband has had several relapses. Caught in lots of lies…. I have cleaned up a series of his messes. He is going to meetings, where he is adored, and is all happy and so puzzled I am angry. But I am filled with rage and have zero trust. I feel like a wreck half the time. When he lies about little things, he is incredulous and indignant I am upset. He lies to me, and I can’t talk to him about it, no time is good, he is under so much pressure from work, how dare I cry. I tried to go to Al-Anon and Nar-Anon. I am financially dependent on him and have started to babble. (Submitted October 2019).

ANSWER:

Whether the addicted person is a lawyer or not, marriage to someone grappling with alcoholism/addiction, while it is active or recurrent or during early sobriety or a so-called “dry drunk” phase, can be very stressful. You say that you “tried” Al-Anon, which is certainly a major resource. We have, in the past, explored starting a support group for family members of alcohol/drug-addicted lawyers, and while we did not develop a quorum, we are interested in revisiting that idea. Anyone reading this who would be interested in such a group, please email me, drjeff@lclma.org to inform us of your interest and provide contact information.

Meantime, we’d suggest that you make an appointment to meet with one of our clinicians for a review of your own state of mind and potentially a referral to a therapist who is experienced in addressing these kinds of stresses. We have no way to contact you, since this question was submitted anonymously, but you can find more on scheduling here. Among the goals (not easy, we know) would be finding ways to take more care of yourself and to reduce the extent to which your own state of mind is reactive to your husband’s behavior.

Q: I am a 2nd year law student at a law school in MA, and am slowly thinking about my bar application. One of the internships that I did during undergrad was done directly under an in-house lawyer that I knew. The company isn't too large and didn't have interns; especially not legal interns. I did consistent work for him for a set period of time, and he said that he would consider it an internship. The issue is, there is probably no record of me working at the company at all. When filling out the bar application, can I just list the attorney's corporate phone number for the bar to contact when reviewing my application? If they call the company directly, the company will most likely say that they have not heard of me. (Submitted October 2019).

ANSWER:

Contact the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners for the answer. Reach the Massachusetts BBE by email to info@bbe.state.ma.us, or by telephone at (617) 482-4466.

Our licensed clinicians can help if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the bar application generally — and our practice advisors can help with career development. Find more on scheduling a Free & Confidential consultation here.

Q: Are there any resources for Lawyer and family who has lost there house and has no where to go but live in the car? Only a short term stabilization to get myself mentally right and back in the game. Thank You. (Submitted September 2019).

[Filed under Career + Practice Concerns]

ANSWER:

While we don’t have resources specific to when a lawyer has lost their home, we might be able to connect you with resources depending on your circumstances. If you arrange an evaluation here, we can determine what resources may be accessible and offer assistance in brainstorming further options relevant to your situation (about which we are very sorry to learn).

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: 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.

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

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