Lawyers may encounter clients with many kinds of emotional problems. They may be better able to help them if they understand what these clients most need. An example is a client in the early stages of dementia who wants to write a will. The will may be contested later on the ground that the client was incompetent when he or she wrote it. The lawyer may most benefit this client by suggesting that a mental health professional assess the client and document his or her mental capacity at this time.
In this article, I first review a few key points regarding legal competency. I then highlight core considerations likely to be most useful to lawyers working with clients who have different kinds of psychiatric disorders.