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

Baylor University School of Law

Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

Chapman College, Fowler School of Law

Charlotte School of Law

City University of New York School of Law

Columbia University School of Law

Duke School of Law

Emory School of Law

Fordham University School of Law

Hamline School of Law

Harvard Law School

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Loyola Law School (CA)

Loyola University New Orleans College of Law

Louisiana State University School of Law

Michigan State University School of Law

Northern Kentucky University Chase Law


Rutgers Law Camden

Rutgers Law Newark

Santa Clara Law

Seton Hall Law School

Stanford Law

Stetson University School of Law

Texas Tech Law School

The University of Iowa College of Law

Thomas Cooley School of Law

Touro School of Law

University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, Law School

University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Law School

University of California, The Hastings College of Law

University of Connecticut School of Law

University of Houston School of Law

University of Iowa School of Law

University of Kentucky Law

University of Louisville Brandeis Law

University of Minnesota School of Law

University of New Hampshire Law School

University of North Carolina School of Law

University of St. Thomas School of Law

University of Texas School of Law

University of VA School of Law

University of Washington School of Law

Vanderbilt University School of Law

Washington and Lee University Law School

West Virginia University College 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.