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Does Lawyer Wellbeing Have Anything To Do With Character And Fitness?

One of my favorite American writers, when I was younger, was Joan Didion-- I recently came across a quote of hers that has had a tremendous influence on my thinking about wellbeing-- especially in the legal profession: "Character is the willingness to accept responsibility for one's life".

For me, the mention of character immediately brought to mind the scrutiny of the Character & Fitness Committee that law students must pass, before they are permitted to take the bar examination. In turn, that got me thinking about lawyer wellbeing-- is that a matter the Committees (in each respective State) consider, in passing upon one's character and fitness? The answer, surprisingly, is apparently not.

A law professor with whom I am friendly, expressed both recognition of the importance of wellbeing and a concern that-- if the concern were to be inquired into, in the future-- it should be done so with care. The genesis of that concern, as I understand it, is that young male and female applicants who may suffer from diagnosable illnesses should not be discouraged or intimidated from seeking admission to the bar.

I totally agree, of course-- as long as applicants are receiving help for their illnesses and are medically/psychologically addressing their respective challenges. Having said that, I think questions directed toward one's awareness of wellbeing (as a matter that may bear upon one's future competence, as a lawyer) are important and fair game-- particularly if worded appropriately.

Character is the willingness to accept responsibility for one's personal and professional life, and an awareness of wellbeing is a factor to be examined, in establishing one's character.

Future competence may be somewhat speculative, but a present awareness of the importance of wellbeing is not!


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