An Idaho attorney whose practice was interrupted by bouts of depression has lost a bid for admission by reciprocity to the Utah State Bar.
The Utah Supreme Court on Dec. 21 rejected Timothy Spencer's argument that the bar ran afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act when it denied him admission. The five-judge panel determined that even though Spencer received disability payments for his depression while not practicing, the court was not required to waive the bar association's requirement that attorneys seeking admission by reciprocity must have practiced for three of the past five years in another jurisdiction.
In addition, the court rejected Spencer's arguments that the Utah Bar violated equal-protection rights under the U.S. and state constitutions.
Spencer was admitted to practice in Idaho in 1983, according to the decision. In 1995, he voluntarily quit his practice because of anxiety and depression. Two years later, he resumed practice but stopped again in 2001 for the same reasons. By that time, Spencer had actively practiced law for 16 years in Idaho and had received an award for his professionalism from the Idaho State Bar.
In 2003, the U.S. Social Security Administration declared Spencer disabled by depression and anxiety. The next year, he changed his status with the Idaho bar to "inactive" and moved to Utah, where he has remained. He worked there as a law clerk, helped with pro bono cases and acquired numerous continuing legal education credits, according to the court. In 2009, after his doctor said he could resume practicing law, he changed his status with the Idaho bar back to "active."
In 2010, he sought admission to practice in Utah under reciprocity, which meant that he wouldn't have to take the state's bar exam. The bar association denied his request because he did not meet the active-practice requirement.