Lawyers of Sound Mind? I’m an attorney with bipolar disorder. That’s nothing to worry about.

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LAST week, swarms of sun-starved, soon-to-be lawyers emerged from hiding to celebrate completing the bar exam. Passing the exam, however, won’t guarantee them admission to the bar. They also have to demonstrate that they possess the requisite fitness and moral character for the practice of law.

I worry for some of them. Specifically, I worry for those who have passed the exam and lived upright lives but may still be denied admission to the bar — not because of a criminal record or a history of academic misconduct, but because of a mental illness.

It could have happened to me. Shortly after graduating from law school in 2006, I completed the Certification of Fitness application from the Georgia Office of Bar Admissions, answering myriad questions and providing fingerprints, driving records and what seemed like everything short of a tissue sample.

As is the case in many states, my fitness application included the following question, drawn from the recommendations of the American Bar Association and the National Conference of Bar Examiners: “Within the past five years, have you been diagnosed with or have you been treated for bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, paranoia or any other psychotic disorder?”

by Melody Moezzi, The New York Times

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