Law Students

If you’re thinking of going to law school or already in school, WATCH THIS VIDEO. Although it’s somewhat crudely done, the information contained in it (watch all five parts and the epilogue) may be invaluable to you: A Law School Carol.

You might also be interested in a British discussion regarding the wisdom of law school at: Important Information for Those Wishing to Study for the Bar

You should also listen to the ABA podcast: Lowering the Stakes: How Law Schools Can Help Next Gen Lawyers Take the Gamble Out of Hefty Tuition.

There’s an interesting article in the ABA eJournal regarding a new blog, Law School Transparency, that takes a look at law school employment statistics. If you’re in law school now or thinking of going, you might want to take a look at it. There’s also a good ABA Journal article on the Uncommon Counsel program that works with law students to help them avoid some of the depression and stress that can pose a real threat to a legal career at Speaking Up: Helping Law Students Break Through the Silence of Depression.

Before you enter or get too far along in your law school career, you might want to take a look at an article published in the Columbus (OH) Bar Association Newsletter regarding overcrowding in and lack of disclosure by law schools. You can access it by clicking HERE.

Florida Lawyers Assistance

Florida Lawyers Assistance, Inc. is a non-profit corporation formed in 1986 in response to the Florida Supreme Court’s mandate that a program be created to identify and offer assistance to bar members who suffer from substance abuse, mental health, or other disorders which negatively affect their lives and careers (Bar Rule 2-9.11). FLA is independent of The Florida Bar, although it does receive funding from that organization. Paramount to FLA is the protection of confidentiality for those attorneys who contact FLA for help. Confidentiality in voluntary cases is protected by a written contract with The Florida Bar which guarantees the confidentiality of FLA records, as well as by Bar Rule 3-7.1(j), Chap. 397.482-486, F.S., and other state and federal regulations. Judges, attorneys, law students, and support personnel who seek the assistance of FLA need not worry that FLA will report them to the Bar, the Board of Bar Examiners, or their employer. Information is shared with these entities only if the participating individual signs a waiver of confidentiality. FLA’s primary purpose is to assist the impaired attorney in his or her recovery.

FLA’s Mission

Florida Lawyers Assistance takes the firm position that substance abuse, compulsive behavior, and psychological problems are treatable illnesses rather than moral issues. Our experience has shown that the only stigma attached to these illnesses is an individual’s failure to seek help. FLA believes it is the responsibility of the legal community to help our colleagues who may not recognize their need for assistance.

If you or an attorney, judge, law student, or support person you know are experiencing problems related to alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling, depression, stress, or other psychological problems, or if you need more information concerning these conditions, FLA, or the attorney support meetings, please call any of the numbers listed below.

Students in Recovery Listserv

The Student in Recovery listserv was developed by the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP) to provide a confidential email vehicle for law students who want to get, or stay, clean and sober while in law school. This is a chance for students to connect with and ask questions of their law student peers throughout the US and share their experience, strength and hope.

If you wish to be added to the listserv, interested law students should contact Niki Irish, directly at  Students should be prepared to talk a bit about their history and about their need and desire to communicate with other law students facing similar challenges. Ms. Irish will make the final determination to add the student to the Listserv and will provide each student with the rules and regulations regarding use of the “Student in Recovery Listserv.” When a student graduates and is admitted to the bar, he/she will be removed from the Listserv.  This service is confidential.

Board of Bar Examiners

While not an agency of the Florida Board of Bar Examiners, FLA has developed a cooperative relationship with the staff of that agency and its members. That relationship includes education of board members regarding chemical and psychological impairments, treatments for the same, development of monitoring and probation protocols which permit admission of applicants with a history of impairment, orientation presentations at the various law schools, and a presentation by a Board member at the annual FLA Workshop in July.

As a result of its acceptance of chemical and psychological impairments as treatable illnesses, the Board was one of the first in the U.S. to permit conditional admissions of applicants with a history of chemical dependency, psychiatric diagnoses, or criminal justice issues resulting from such conditions. The term “conditional admission” has no effect on an attorney’s scope of practice or authority, but only on the probationary terms with which the lawyer must comply for the period set by the Board. Such conditions may include attendance at a specified number of lawyer support or 12 Step meetings, monitoring by another attorney or mental health practitioner, and random urinalysis testing. The order of conditional admission is confidential, and conditional admittees are listed as “members in good standing” upon admission to The Florida Bar.

The key to obtaining a recommendation for conditional admission if a history of chemical or psychological impairment exists is absolute honesty, candor, and completeness when preparing and filing the application for admission, together with a demonstration that the prior condition is being adequately addressed and treated (a relationship with FLA can be crucial in this regard). The Board is attempting to determine who you are based on your personal history, your undergraduate and law school experiences, and your preparation of the application. Demonstrating your present candor and honesty by providing everything on your application, including incidents about which you are embarrassed, or believe may jeopardize your chance of admission, or believe the Board will not discover, provides you with the best chance that a recommendation for a conditional admission will be authorized by the Board. Leaving something off the application in the hope the Board will not discover it (which it is guaranteed they will) makes almost certain that the recommendation will be against admission.

Florida Lawyers Assistance is available to answer your questions regarding the bar application, admissions process, or the conditional admission procedure. FLA also maintains a referral listing of attorneys who specialize in representing applicants before the Board, and who understand and work cooperatively with FLA.

Applicants should be aware that the Florida Board of Bar Examiners has adopted a new policy of researching certain applicant’s social sites (Facebook, MySpace, etc.). The ABA Journal article announcing this new policy can be found by clicking HERE and the report filed by the Bar Examiners with the Supreme Court can be found HERE.