More frequent fitness exams?

December 10, 2009
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When you decided to become an attorney, one of the last steps you took was standing before the Board of Law Examiners Committee on Character and Fitness, which determined whether you should be admitted to the bar.

Attorneys deemed to have “good” moral character and fitness, as defined by Rule 12 for admission to the bar, go on to practice law in Indiana as long as they meet all the other requirements.

Chances are that’s the last time you had anyone evaluate your physical and mental suitability. But what if you had to have your character and fitness evaluated periodically throughout your legal career in order to maintain your license?

Attorneys, like a lot of professions, must take classes to continue to be in good standing. Why shouldn’t lawyers undergo evaluations by mental-health professionals and doctors to make sure you are still up to task for the job? After all, a lot can change after you first were admitted. It’s no secret attorneys are under a lot of stress, and stress can take its toll on people’s bodies and minds in various ways.

If attorneys were periodically evaluated, some of the issues that we read about in attorney disciplinary cases could possibly be prevented. Attorneys could seek help before a serious problem developed.

What about a requirement that if you want to be a judge, you have to have your character and fitness examined before running or applying for that post? Even though judges going through the appointment process sort of do this already, surely there is information that isn’t divulged to the judicial nominating commission. A confidential interview with a health professional could provide the nominating commission with a simple yes or no as to whether this person should be a judge. No other specifics would need to be divulged.

Just like the character and fitness test you took as a student, the ones you would take as an adult would be confidential. If it turns out you need further tests or meetings with health professionals, then so be it. You’d be able to treat the problem before it interferes with your work, and as long as it doesn’t interfere with your work, no one else would have to know. Because once you do something to violate the rules of professional conduct, it’s out in the open for anyone to find with a few simple clicks on the court’s Web site.
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  • Yes, more exams!!!
  • Anyone conservative who thinks this a good idea better think again.
    Here is why: http://news.ibj.com/ilemg/ILEmails/2009_12_10_ILDaily_Standard/Articles/5068.htm?1=1&EGEmailID=754&PublicationID=1&PublicationDesc=Indiana%20Lawyer%20Daily&EmailType=Standard

    See the pleadings against JLAP posted here: http://religionclause.blogspot.com/2009/12/federal-lawsuit-charges-indiana-lawyer.html
  • A really bad idea
    Now that we see political correctness and government control and the Left's misuse of power just about everywhere around us, does anyone with a modicum of reason think the above is a good idea?
  • no way !!
    I am on meds for anxiety. It is really not a problem for me at this point but I have no desire to talk it over with some stranger. Likewise as other people have noted these "exams" can be abused to screen out people for arbitrary capricious reasons including "political correctness." Alexander Solzehnitsyn talked about the abuse of mental health services for political purposes and I do not think we are above it here in the USA.

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  3. Indiana up holds this behavior. the state police know they got it made.

  4. Additional Points: -Civility in the profession: Treating others with respect will not only move others to respect you, it will show a shared respect for the legal system we are all sworn to protect. When attorneys engage in unnecessary personal attacks, they lose the respect and favor of judges, jurors, the person being attacked, and others witnessing or reading the communication. It's not always easy to put anger aside, but if you don't, you will lose respect, credibility, cases, clients & jobs or job opportunities. -Read Rule 22 of the Admission & Discipline Rules. Capture that spirit and apply those principles in your daily work. -Strive to represent clients in a manner that communicates the importance you place on the legal matter you're privileged to handle for them. -There are good lawyers of all ages, but no one is perfect. Older lawyers can learn valuable skills from younger lawyers who tend to be more adept with new technologies that can improve work quality and speed. Older lawyers have already tackled more legal issues and worked through more of the problems encountered when representing clients on various types of legal matters. If there's mutual respect and a willingness to learn from each other, it will help make both attorneys better lawyers. -Erosion of the public trust in lawyers wears down public confidence in the rule of law. Always keep your duty to the profession in mind. -You can learn so much by asking questions & actively listening to instructions and advice from more experienced attorneys, regardless of how many years or decades you've each practiced law. Don't miss out on that chance.

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