Published on January 16, 2019 by Maria Correa

Mental Health Law

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 31 seconds

Do you want to be a lawyer, but can’t picture yourself working in a magic circle firm? Do you think working with contracts and businesses sound too impersonal? Maybe you’d rather do work that is more centred around people, or find psychology intriguing.

In that case, mental health law might be the area for you! This article will examine some ways you can get involved and how you can get started.

#1. How You Can Practice Mental Health Law: What It Is

This is mainly concerned with persons that have various mental conditions and the legal rights they have. Third parties that may also be involved is those treating them, family and even their managers at work.

  • Having studied criminal law, you’ll know that mental health can also be relevant to mens rea requirements for criminal offences. In addition, a mental health condition can possibly grant a defendant a defence.
  • It is also found in statue in the form of the Mental Health Act 1983, and can be relevant to the Equality Act 2010. These are important to know as they set out the procedures and provisions that govern the treatment of individuals with mental health conditions.
  • As a person working within this area you will have responsibility in ensuring that these individuals are protected. In the event of breach you may advise them on which action they should take, or represent them in court, depending on the type of lawyer you become.

Depending on the particular type of work you want to do, you should consider entering one of the following specialisms.

Want to know how you can look after your mental health as a lawyer? Click here.>>

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#2. How You Can Practice Mental Health Law: Employment Lawyer

Specialising in employment law could enable you to work within mental health law. This is because employees may be discriminated against when they have a mental health illness.

  • As an employment lawyer you could get involved in cases in which people seek to challenge such treatment. Maybe a client is rejected from a job on the basis of their mental condition, or even fired.

If you think this sounds exciting, you should consider taking employment law as a module during your law degree. Furthermore, you should familiarise yourself with the Equality Act 2010. As mental health can fall within the category of disability, an individual dealing with a mental condition could be protected under this act.

Looking for job opportunities in law? Click here to search in our Deadlines Calendar.>>

#3. How You Can Practice Mental Health Law: Medical Lawyer

If you want to work within a more specialised area, you should consider working within medical law. This deals with regulation of various healthcare institutions. You may encounter disputes within such institutions, or advise a person involuntary detained in mental health treatment centres.

If you want to explore what kind of laws you would be dealing with, you should have a look at the Mental Health Act 1983 (as amended by the MHA 2007). This is largely concerned with involuntary detainment of persons with mental disorders.

Interested in learning more about the different areas of law? Click here for our guide.>>

#4. How You Can Practice Mental Health Law: Qualifications

Mental Health Solicitor

  • You could provide advice to clients on the Mental Health Act including admission for treatment and hospital orders. In addition, you may act for prisoners with mental health conditions, or represent clients at Mental Health Tribunals.
  • Whilst you could specialise within the area of mental health law, this is a very niche area.
  • As such, you could become an employment or medical lawyer, and still be able to work with this area of law. Some law firms that specialise in this are Blake Morgan LLP, Duncan Lewis, Campbell-Taylor. 

Want to find out more about a career as a solicitor? Click here for our guide.>>

Mental Health Barrister

  • You would represent clients with mental health issues at mental health tribunals, and work on damages claims made on the basis of unlawful detention.
  • Chambers that specialise in this include; Kings Chambers, Trinity Chambers, Outer Temple.

What’s the difference between a solicitor and a barrister? Click here to find out.>>

#5. How You Can Practice Mental Health Law: What Students Can Do Now

  • You can volunteer with mental health organisations in order to build relevant experience. Not only will it expose you to the type of clients you may have in the future, it also demonstrates to employers that you are committed to this area of law. To find opportunities near you, I would advise that you talk with your university’s career guides.
  • Look into the modules that your university offer. It may well be that they offer highly relevant subjects that can help you on your way. Apply for vacation schemes and mini-pupillages to get a realistic idea of what it is like to work with mental health law.

If you find yourself intrigued by mental health law, do some research and talk to people that work within the area. It’s likely that these cases can be demanding and emotionally draining, so find out if this is right for you. If you do choose to go down this route, I am certain that it will be rewarding as well.

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