This Is Crazy

     Let me pose a question: Before hiring a lawyer, wouldn’t you like to know whether he or she is insane?
     Maybe insane is too strong a word. Let’s use “mentally-impaired.” Wouldn’t you like to know about any mental impairment?
     Wouldn’t you rather not be represented by a mentally-disturbed attorney?
     I’m guessing your answer to that last question is yes.
     OK, next question: would you then be discriminating against the lawyer with the mental disability?
     No, I haven’t found a lawsuit by a lawyer against a client for failure to hire, but there was something close to it filed in federal court in Indianapolis the other day. A “Jane Doe” has filed a proposed class action against the members of the Indiana State Board of Law Examiners for asking bar applicants “intrusive” questions about mental disorders.
     Apparently, according to the suit, if an applicant admits to any such problem, the applicant has to provide detailed information and submit to further evaluation.
     Jane Doe said she has “an emotional disorder that in no way affects her ability to practice law” but submitting to “unnecessary inquiries” during the bar admission process violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.
     After all, bar applicants without emotional disorders don’t have to submit to these questions. The questions might be unnecessary, but they’re definitely not asked.
     The proposed class, by the way, includes any bar applicant who has “been diagnosed with or treated for bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, paranoia, or any other psychotic disorder.”
     I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that Jane Doe is nuts. You’re thinking that maybe we should know which bar applicants are insane.
     After all, Jane Doe admits she’s crazy. How seriously can we take this?
     Actually, I think she has a point, although I would have defined the class and the causes of action a little differently. The plaintiff class should have been bar applicants who admit to a mental health problem and the main cause of action should be discrimination against the honest.
     After all, if you don’t tell the Indiana bar that you have psychiatric problems, you’re not subject to all that scrutiny. Hmmm … maybe you have to be insane to admit to a problem.
     Besides, if a new lawyer is insane, is anyone really going to notice?
     Those of you who work in law offices, please pause now to look around you.
     Notice anyone insane?
     It didn’t take long, did it?
     So there’s clearly no rational basis for a bar association to pick on the few people who own up to a problem. All the real crazies are flying right through the exam process and into the profession.
     And there’s no need to mention (although I’m doing it anyway) all the lawyers who go crazy after starting their careers.
     So making the honest insane submit to questions is clearly discriminatory. And it certainly can’t help their state of mind.
     By the way, here’s another note from Jane Doe’s suit: “A law review article reports that a four year study of law students at the University of Maryland found that 15% of the students sought counseling and nearly all were diagnosed as suffering from a mental illness.”
     Yes, somebody spent four years studying law students to see if they got counseling.

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