UMKC Law students may experience many challenges in their lives while attending law school – stress, depression, suicide, trauma, relationship issues, health concerns, etc. Maximizing your wellness and learning to access resources to help you do so are core professional responsibilities for all lawyers. As your dean and a professor, I care about your success and well-being, both as a future attorney and as a person, and want to make you aware of some helpful resources on campus.
Barbara Glesner Fines
Dean & Rubey M. Hulen Professor of Law
A note on asking for help: Research indicates that one of the biggest barriers for law students in asking for help is a fear of having to report that assistance on their application for the bar. There are three reasons this fear should not give you pause in taking advantage of mental health resources:
First, mental health professionals have duties of confidentiality and have no obligation to report to bar authorities that you have sought their services. For more details, see the notice of privacy practices at the MOLAP website. https://mobar.org/site/content/Lawyer-Resources/MOLAP-areas/Client_Forms.aspx
Second, in most circumstances, you also have no obligation to report that you have sought counseling. In Missouri, for example, the character and fitness portion of the bar application does ask whether applicants “have any condition or impairment (including, but not limited to, substance abuse, alcohol abuse, or mental, emotional, or nervous disorder or condition) that in any way affects your ability to practice law in a competent, ethical and professional.” https://www.mble.org/browseform.action?applicationId=1 However, this same section makes it clear that it “does not seek information that is fairly characterized as situational counseling. Examples of situational counseling include stress counseling, domestic counseling, grief counseling and counseling for eating or sleeping disorders.” (emphasis added) Importantly, the form itself notes that “The mere fact of treatment, monitoring, or participation in a support group is not, in itself, a basis on which admission is denied; the Board routinely certifies for admission individuals who demonstrate personal responsibility and maturity in dealing with fitness issues.”
Third, if you need help and don’t get it, you are far more likely to find yourself unable to practice law than if you do get help. If you don’t get help, it will impair your ability to be successful. If you do get help, even if you report that to the bar, you are simply demonstrating that you have the self-awareness to recognize when you need help and the ability to successfully manage challenges. After all, we are in a helping profession. We need to be able to demonstrate that we can help ourselves.