New York Removes Questions About Mental Health History From Bar Application

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The State of New York will change its character and fitness questionnaire to relieve applicants from worry that seeking mental health treatment might affect their admission to the bar, according to an announcement today:

New York State’s court system will remove questions about mental health history from its bar application, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore announced Wednesday.

After debate and study, the court system plans to revise the application, DiFiore said in her 2020 State of Our Judiciary address.

“The amended application will no longer ask intrusive questions about a candidate’s mental health conditions or treatment history,” she said in her prepared remarks. “Instead, the application will focus on disclosure of behavior and conduct that is relevant to a candidate’s fitness to practice law.”

The presence of mental health questions on the bar exam, and stigma around mental illness, have proven to be barriers to treatment within the legal profession, according to a New York State Bar Association report. DiFiore said the mental health and well-being of New York’s lawyers is of “paramount importance.”

Good luck on this week’s bar exam!

If you are taking a February bar exam this week, we are rooting for you! I think our graduates overall could pick up some more points on the MPT, and possibly bridge the difference between passing and failing, so make sure you understand what it will ask you to do, and how it will be graded. If you want to look over examples of past MPTs and sample answers, you will find some here: Georgia Bar Past Questions and Sample Answers.

Make sure you review the rules, procedures and instructions for your jurisdiction’s bar exam. Georgia’s are here: Rules, Procedures and Instructions. Most of all, get a good night’s sleep tonight, stay hydrated, plan ahead for challenges like traffic and weather, and get to the test site early. The less stress you have on bar exam days, the better your chances are. Remember, each question is an opportunity to do well and score points; fight for every point, but forget about each question after you finish, and move on. Remind yourself why you know you can pass this exam! Good luck, wherever you are taking the bar– you can do this!

Keep Track of Upcoming Bar Deadlines

Emory Law Bar Readiness State Bar Georgia

If you plan to take a bar exam in July 2020, make sure you are meeting all deadlines! In Georgia, the last date by which you can apply for character and fitness certification to take the July bar comes up the first week of March. Go here for details: Georgia Bar deadlines and fees. And mark your calendars for the March 16 information session with Georgia’s Director of Bar Admissions and one of the Georgia Board of Bar Examiners, Emory alumna Susan Cahoon 68C. Ms. Cahoon is a university trustee and an equity partner in the law firm of Kilpatrick Townsend. She is a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, has chaired Kilpatrick Townsend’s Litigation practice group, and is the firm’s General Counsel. She is one of the bar examiners who write and grade the Georgia law essay questions on the bar exam every year, so she has valuable insights into how to succeed on the bar. For time and location details, see the announcement in On The Docket, and flyers on the digital screens in Gambrell.

Info Session on the Bar Exam

Come find out everything you always wanted to know about the bar exam but might have been afraid to ask! (Don’t be afraid — be informed!). On Monday, March 16, 2020, the Director of Bar Admissions for the State Bar of Georgia and one of the Bar Examiners (the people who write and grade bar essay questions) will visit Emory Law to give an overview of the bar exam and answer students’ questions. Much of the information will be relevant to jurisdictions other than Georgia. Join the Office of Academic Engagement & Student Success from 12:15-1:45 pm in Rm. 1E, on March 16. Reminders will be in On The Docket.

Remember also to keep track of deadlines for the jurisdiction wherever you plan to take the bar; always check directly on that jurisdiction’s own official bar admissions website. You can get to that through the website of the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

Pizza will be served during the March 16 info session; feel free to bring your beverages and your questions!