New bar applicants, including recent law graduates, are required to submit an application before taking the bar exam. This application usually includes a Character and Fitness questionnaire that assesses if an applicant is capable of performing the duties of a lawyer. In 2015, the ABA House of Delegates passed a resolution urging state and territorial bar licensing entities to eliminate from applications required for admission to the bar any questions that ask about mental health history, diagnoses, or treatment and instead use questions that focus on conduct or behavior that impairs an applicant’s ability to practice law in a competent, ethical, and professional manner.
Thirty states and Washington, D.C. include one or more questions referencing the mental health status of an applicant. Mental health questions typically fall into three categories: (1) diagnosis or existence of a mental health condition that could affect an applicant’s ability to practice law; (2) treatment, in-patient or out-patient, of the aforementioned condition; and (3) whether the applicant has ever been party to conservatorship or court-appointed guardianship proceedings. Many of these questions are similar but have different time frames and standards. Questions that only address conduct and effect on competence to practice are not addressed here.
Twenty-one states do not consider a candidate’s mental health status in evaluating their fitness: Arizona, Arkansas, Hawaii, Illinois, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Ten states adopt the character and fitness questions drafted by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE): Alabama, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Vermont, and West Virginia, as well as Washington D.C. Five states that do not follow the NCBE test - Colorado, Delaware, Kentucky, Nevada, and Rhode Island - asked at least one of the NCBE questions. Fourteen other states have drafted their own questions.
Ohio, California, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Oregon ask about mental health only in the context of (3).
Below, we have a table breaking down which states and DC ask which questions. After that, you will find a list of the specific questions by state. You can scroll down, or use the menu on the left to jump to your state. If your state is marked (NCBE), they use the questions under that heading at the top of the list. The states that do not ask any relevant questions, or which only ask questions regarding conduct, are not included in the chart or list below.