Bricks on the Brain

UM Law

Saturday, December 10, 2005

ADD, Law Exams,The Bar, The Public

Regular readers of this blog can no doubt surmise my view on allowing law students more time to finish an exam simply because they claim to have ADD. Some evidence that UM Law follows this practice is in the previous post, and several other lawschools post their policies as such online. The MPRE and Florida Bar web sites do not say so explicitly, but they seem to imply that ADD is grounds for more time on those exams as well.

I know students that claim to have it, both medicated and unmedicated. I don't know any that ask for special accomodations during exams. If they truly do have a challenging disorder and have to work a little harder then everyone else--more power to them. A description of the "disorder" can be found here.

The Bar justifiies requiring (in nearly every state) that applicants receive a JD from an accredited law school by the need to "protect the public" from unqualified hacks. Indeed, we all remember the the Barry fiasco, where despite having undergone rigorous legal training, initially those students weren't even allowed to sit for the bar--supposedly under the auspices of "protecting the public" (Barry U is now provisionally accredited). Apparently passing the bar post facto wouldn't have settled the question. An applicant has to do it the "right way" by attending an accredited Law School and earning that school's stamp of approval. The Bar relies heavily on the law schools for approving applicants to the bar, by "certifying" that the applicant is up to snuff.

So why does it seem that nobody in the legal community is concerned about "protecting the public" from lawyers who by their own admission can't pay attention or focus on the task at hand? Lawyers in Florida are required to take action if a collegue's substance abuse appears to interfere with his ability to service his clients. So what if a collegue with ADD is billing at a market rate, yet taking twice the time to finish a task because of his "disability?" What if he seems to zone out in court?

I don't really have any objections to accomodations being made to those coming to law school merely to study the law. If any person has the time and money to do so, then so be it. But becoming a lawyer is another matter. How can the legal community be doing right by clients by sweeping ADD under the rug?

Clearly ADD should in and of itself not be grounds for deeming a lawyer unfit to practice law. But where that person has asked for and received special accomodations throughout the process of becoming a lawyer, what assurances does the public have?


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