Uncommon Counsel

Uncommon Counsel

The Dave Nee Foundation’s innovative and unique program, Uncommon Counsel, fights depression and works to prevent suicide among law students. Uncommon Counsel educates law students about depression, its prevalence in the legal profession, and the availability and effectiveness of treatment.

Watch this short video with select feedback from faculty and students who have attended an Uncommon Counsel presentation.

Why is Uncommon Counsel Important?

Nobody talks about depression and mental health issues – especially lawyers. Attorneys have the highest rates of depression and suicide of any profession and 40% of law students in their third year of school report experiencing symptoms of depression. Further, lawyers are 3.6 times more likely than any other occupational group to suffer from depression. Statistics demonstrate that the rate of suicide attempts among attorneys is increasing as the effects of the economic downturn of the past few years continue to spread.

It is urgent that law students and attorneys who exhibit the warning signs for suicide get the help they need. Our goal is to have Uncommon Counsel present in all major law schools around the country. We believe this important program will save lives.

Uncommon Counsel Is Making a Difference

In the academic year 2013-2014, the Dave Nee Foundation made 41 Uncommon Counsel presentations at 35 law schools throughout the United States. While the presentation format was tailored specifically to each law school, the goals of the presentations were universal. In each presentation, we sought to raise awareness about the prevalence of depression, anxiety, and suicide within the legal community and to equip law students with the skills and the resources to assist them with mental health concerns throughout their legal careers.

Attendees of the majority of our presentations were asked to complete a feedback form. The responses from the feedback forms are included below. The data below represents responses from 1,014 attendees from 32 law schools. Typically, the number of attendees is higher than the number of attendees who complete feedback forms. We calculated an overall response rate of approximately 72 percent. Our audience size varied from two to 250. To learn more about the scholarship and researching influencing Uncommon Counsel, please click here.

The survey demonstrated:

  • 97.1% of those surveyed reported that the information provided through Uncommon Counsel will help them to recognize the symptoms of depression.
  • 95.1% of those surveyed reported that as a result of an Uncommon Counsel presentation, they can now identify 3 warning signs of suicide.
  • 92.5% of those surveyed reported that as a result of an Uncommon Counsel presentation, they knew at least 3 places where they could get help for depression, anxiety and other mental health concerns.

Law Schools Hosting Uncommon Counsel

Since starting Uncommon Counsel, we have visited many of the 204 ABA-Accredited Law Schools in the U.S. Below is a list of the schools who have hosted us since 2006. We are grateful for the ongoing support from Law School administrators who welcome us back time and again; as well as to the law students who participate in the Uncommon Counsel sessions. Should you be interested in having your school host Uncommon Counsel, please contact Katherine Bender, PhD, programming director at the Dave Nee Foundation at kbender@daveneefoundation.org

Interested in hosting an Uncommon Counsel presentation?

We will work with administrators, faculty, student groups and lawyers assistance program leaders to create a program that meets the needs of your school. Whichever format is agreed upon, we intend to impart three important messages to students. 1. If they are feeling depressed or anxious, they are not alone. 2. There is no shame in seeking help or asking a friend if he or she needs help. 3. Help is available at school and in the community.

Interested in volunteering and leading an Uncommon Counsel session?

We are seeking attorneys throughout the country who are interested in leading Uncommon Counsel educational programs in the law school and bar association community of interest to them.

This is a wonderful opportunity to present a program that has been developed and in use since 2012. With technical support and training offered by Katherine Bender, PhD, our Programming Director, you will join the ranks of other like-minded attorneys intent on giving back and raising awareness about mental health challenges facing law students. Please contact Kate at kbender@daveneefoundation.org for more information about how you can make a difference with law students.

Our Law School Partners

Atlanta John Marshall

Baylor Law School

Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

Boston University Law School

Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law

Champman Fowler School of Law

Charleston School of Law

Cleveland State University School of Law

Columbia University Law School

CUNY Law School

Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law

Duke Law School

Emory University School of Law

Florida International University College of Law

Fordham Law

Georgetown University

Hamline School of Law

Harvard Law School

Howard University

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Louisiana State University School of Law

Loyola Law

Loyola University New Orleans College of Law

Michigan State University College of Law

New England Law | Boston

NKU Chase Law


Rutgers School of Law Camden

Rutgers School of Law Newark

Santa Clara Law

Seton Hall Law

Stanford Law

Stetson University School of Law

Texas Tech University School of Law

The University of Iowa College of Law

The University of Texas at Austin

Thomas Cooley (1 school, 5 campuses)

Touro Law Center

Tulane University School of Law

University of Arkansas at Fayetteville

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

University of California at Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law

University of California at Davis School of Law

University of California Hastings School of Law

University of California, Irvine School of Law

University of Connecticut School of Law

University of Georgia

University of Houston

University of Kansas

University of Kentucky College of Law

University of La Verne Law

University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law

University of Miami School of Law

University of Minnesota School of Law

University of New Hampshire Law School

University of North Carolina Law

University of San Francisco School of Law

University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)

University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law

University of Virginia School of Law

University of Washington

Valparaiso University School of Law

Vanderbilt University School of Law

Villanova University School of Law

Washington & Lee University School of Law

Wayne State School of Law

West Virginia School of Law

Whittier Law School

William Mitchell College of Law

Yale Law School


Thank You To Our Uncommon Counsel Underwriters

Uncommon Counsel Visiting Law Schools in 21 States

The Foundation thanks its supporters for helping to bring Uncommon Counsel to law schools and legal associations around the country.

Thank you to Mr. Davidson T. Gordon, Mr. & Mrs. Amit Shashank, and Mr. & Mrs. John W. Van Dyke for helping Uncommon Counsel reach the Midwest. 

Thank you to Elizabeth J. Kanter and Gerry, Rosie & Brian Reidy for helping Uncommon Counsel reach the South. 

Thank you to Mr. & Mrs. Richard Vermillion for helping Uncommon Counsel reach Texas.

Thank you to Mr. & Mrs. Owen Nee for helping Uncommon Counsel reach the West Coast.