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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 if you submit your question anonymously — consider using the private, confidential option.

BAR ADMISSIONS

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.

Additional Resources: Character and Fitness Standards for Bar Admission in Massachusetts and BBE FAQ on Character and Fitness

ANONYMOUS QUESTIONS

Your question and answer will be published on this page, where anyone can view it.

Please exclude identifying details or indicate any details you would like us to exclude from posting. You can also choose to submit a private, confidential question.

PRIVATE + CONFIDENTIAL QUESTIONS

Only a licensed clinician will see your question, and will treat it confidentially.

The clinician will respond to your question privately. The same exceptions that apply when seeing any licensed mental health provider apply to your question.

Most Recent Questions

Q: Hello, I made a dumb decision when I was 13 that resulted in felony and misdemeanor charges (i.e. burglary, theft, and criminal mischief). Luckily, I was eligible for a diversion program and I believe all charges were expunged. Since then, I have had a clean record. Do I need to worry about not passing the bar exam on this basis once I graduate from law school? Thanks! (Submitted July 2020.)

ANSWER:

We would encourage you not to worry about passing the character & fitness portion of the bar exam based on charges from age 13. Even if the charges were expunged, the current application will instruct you to disclose them — the BBE will recognize your record of better decision-making. You can get the most definitive answer possible by contacting the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners directly. They welcome these inquiries and accept anonymous questions by phone (617) 482-4466, and you can also email questions to info@bbe.state.ma.us.

[Filed under Career/Practice Concerns]

Q: I have a non-traffic state petty misdemeanor charge that was dismissed years ago. My Bar application interview asks if I have "ever been charged with or been the subject of any investigation for a felony or misdemeanor other than a minor traffic charge.." Does this require that I disclose the petty misdemeanor? (Submitted June 2020.)

ANSWER:

You’d get the best answer by contacting the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners directly. They welcome these inquiries and accept anonymous questions by phone (617) 482-4466, and you can also email questions to info@bbe.state.ma.us.

[Filed under Career/Practice Concerns]

Q: I am currently working on filling out the Bar application. When I reached the employment history section, I remembered a job I held while in high school. I am also remembering that I was paid in cash at this job and do not believe I ever paid taxes on that income. I still plan to list this job and intend to disclose the issue on my application as well. Should I be pursuing any actions to mitigate the issue? Should i now attempt to report that income? Any insight you may have on these types of scenarios would be greatly appreciated! Thanks. (Submitted May 2020.)

ANSWER:

You’d get a better answer by contacting the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners directly. They welcome these inquiries and accept anonymous questions by phone (617) 482-4466, and you can also email questions to info@bbe.state.ma.us.

[Filed under Career/Practice Concerns]

Q: Any advice for a lawyer who knows another lawyer is using drugs and practicing? I’m concerned for the lawyer but also the clients. (Submitted March 2020.)

ANSWER:

We have compiled advice here: What You Should Do When You’re Concerned for a Lawyer (or Law Student)Since you indicate you’re certain of the problem, the next best step would be to brainstorm with one of our licensed clinicians — please call (617) 482 9600.

[Filed under Career/Practice Concerns]

Q: I am a first-year attorney and am having trouble managing the stress of my job. I have spoken to a counselor already, but given that she has no idea what being a lawyer was like, the experience was more frustrating than helpful. Because of this, I think that LCL really could be a helpful resource for me. I would like to utilize your services, but I was curious about your availability on weekends. It's hard for me to get to appointments during the week, but I can make weekends work. Are there any counselors that are available on weekends? (Submitted February 2020.)

ANSWER:

We’re very sorry but LCL primarily operates during regular business hours — one of our clinicians does offer some hours before 9 and after 5, which are only Tuesday – Friday.

We realize that there are some kinds of legal work, including early-career positions in settings like large law firms and legal aid services to the community, that make it very challenging to get to a regular weekday appointment, but that obstacle is perhaps mitigated by the fact that our role is to provide assessment & referral rather than ongoing individual therapy.

Among those to whom we refer are some therapists who have seen a number of lawyers, and even a few who actually have law degrees as well as licenses in mental health fields. A caveat is that it can be difficult enough to find someone who matches you on geography and health insurance provider list (assuming you need to use health insurance), without regard to therapist experience with the law.

You can schedule a Free & Confidential online or phone consultation with one of our licensed therapists if you like, which might be more convenient.

[Filed under Career/Practice Concerns]

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]

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