February 11, 2019

Policy

Latest Developments

ABA House of Delegates Adopts Lawyer Well-Being Resolution at Midyear Meeting

The ABA House of Delegates adopted Resolution 105 at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Vancouver, which supports the goal of reducing mental health and substance use disorders and improving the well-being of lawyers, judges and law students, and urges stakeholders within the legal profession to consider the recommendations set out in The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change from the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being

Resolution 105 was primarily sponsored by the Working Group to Advance Well-Being in the Legal Profession, an ABA Presidential Initiative. Resolution 105 was co-sponsored by the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs, the ABA Standing Committee on Professionalism and the National Organization of Bar Counsel.


USPTO Launches Two Year Diversion Pilot Program

The Department of Commerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is initiating a two-year Diversion Pilot Program for patent and trademark practitioners. The program offers practitioners who engaged in minor misconduct (with little, if any, harm to a client) as a result of physical, mental, or emotional health issues (including substance or alcohol abuse) or law practice management issues to enter into a diversion agreement and avoid formal discipline.


ABA Approves Changes to CLE Model Rule, Adding Substance Use, Mental Health Requirement

In February 2017, the ABA House of Delegates approved Resolution 106 amending the ABA Model Rule for Minimum Continuing Legal Education which includes a requirement for lawyers to receive at least one hour of mental health or substance use disorder programming every three years. It also calls for one hour of diversity and inclusion programming every three years. The Resolution was sponsored by the ABA’s Standing Committee on Continuing Legal Education, Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs and Law Practice Division.

CLE Credit for Lawyer Wellness in Wisconsin

IL Supreme Court Mandates Mental Health, Substance Use and Diversity CLE

See a Comparison of Jurisdiction Rules to ABA MCLE Model Rule by State for developments on this rule. 


ABA Approves New Policy - Limits Use of Mental Health-Related Inquiries for Bar Admission

On August 3rd, 2015, the House of Delegates approved Resolution 102 which calls for character and fitness questions to address conduct rather than treatment or diagnoses when inquiring into a bar applicant's mental health history.

Access the ABA Commission on Disability Rights Bar Information for Applicants with Disabilities resources for state-by-state information on character and fitness questions related to mental health diagnoses. 


Other Policy News

AUDIO: Law Students Challenge Need for Mental Health Question (Radio IQ, April 24, 2018)

New Virginia Ethics Opinion on Duty of Non-Supervisory Attorneys to Report Impaired Lawyers (Supreme Court of Virginia Ethics Opinion 1887, August 30, 2017)

Attorneys: No downside to new rule on continuing education (The News-Gazette, September 15, 2017)

ABA Weighs Mandatory Substance Abuse CLE (LAW.Com, January 31, 2017)

Lawyers and marijuana: disciplinary cases on personal use highlight issues (Lexology, Law for Lawyers Today Blog, January 26, 2017)

Duty of Partners and Supervisory Lawyers in a Law Firm When another Lawyer in the Firm Suffers from Significant Impairment (Supreme Court of Virginia Ethics Opinion 1886, December 15, 2016)

Mental Health At Core Of Florida Bar Admission Case (WLRN, November 15, 2016)

ND Sup. Ct. approves new lawyer discipline rules that include diversion system for addictions / mental health issues (October 25, 2016)

Mental health questions on Florida bar application are discriminatory, suit says (Florida Politics, October 25, 2016)

Running From Trouble: When Lawyers Should Alert Ethics Officials (Connecticut Law Tribune, October 17, 2016)

Incentives for Workplace Wellness Programs: New Rules Provide More Guidance (State Bar of Wisconsin Inside Track, August 2016)

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Rules

Case Law Reviews

Access “Case Law Reviews” dating from 1990 to 2015 that summarize lawyer discipline cases involving substance use disorders and/or mental health issues.