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Featured Students: Denise Trauth & Angela Chang of the class of '08

Meet Angela Chang, '08, and Denise Trauth, '08, fellows in the Glenn M. Weaver Institute for Law and Psychiatry

Angela Chang, '08

Mental health and medical issues intersect with the law every day. Featured StudentWhether these issues arise during criminal proceedings or probate hearings, legal professionals need a basic understanding of how mental health concerns affect people, their lives, and their choices. In my own life, I have seen the devastating effects of mental health problems that are not addressed, as well as the wonderful outcomes when a person receives proper advocacy that addresses mental health issues.

When I first heard about the Glenn M. Weaver Institute of Law and Psychiatry, it immediately caught my interest. I was always fascinated by psychiatry and I knew it would overlap in my future work as an attorney. My experience as a Weaver Fellow has enriched my law school experience in ways I had not foreseen. Through the fellowship, I have explored challenging topics such as adolescent development as it applies to juvenile justice, psychiatry and the role it plays in criminal law, and many other ways that psychiatry and mental health interact with the law. The Weaver Institute also has provided opportunities for me to meet amazing mental health and legal professionals and learn from their research and work. I have enjoyed the exposure to a diverse set of legal topics and appreciate the insight I gain through each lecture or meeting. From making clinical visits to taking classes about law and psychiatry, I have learned about a wide variety of issues and look forward to applying them in my future work.

As a student interested in public interest work, learning about the ways mental health issues affect the law is especially pertinent. The information I have obtained through Weaver Institute activities has helped me to better communicate with and understand my clients, whether in the context of domestic violence, special education, or criminal law. In each area of law, knowing how mental health affects a person has helped me improve the quality of the advocacy I provide because I can understand and address a broader range of my clients’ problems. When I graduate, I hope to work in the area of special education as it affects the juvenile justice system, and my experience as a Weaver Fellow will enhance my ability to make change and fight for the rights of my future clients.

Denise Trauth, '08

Before I came to law school, I obtained my undergraduate and graduate degree in psychology. Although I chose not to pursue a career in the mental health field, I was concerned that coming to law school and practicing in the legal field would not afford me the opportunity to stay involved in the field of psychology. However, when I was applying, I noticed that, unlike other law schools, the University of Cincinnati had a law and psychiatry institute. I initially thought, “What a wonderful idea!” Then I wondered, “How does the law have anything to do with psychiatry or psychology?”

My curiosity was immediately dispelled once I started law school at UC and applied to become a Weaver fellow for the Institute of Law and Psychiatry. Before becoming involved with the Institute, I mistakenly used to think that the combination of law and psychiatry was watching people have panic attacks in the law library during first year exams. Or, I thought the interaction of the two fields might have occurred when I met some of my classmates and finally understood what my psychology textbooks referred to as “Narcissistic Personality Disorder.” More seriously, though, almost every course I have taken at the College of Law in one way or another linked psychology or psychiatry to pertinent legal issues. In addition, the law school offers a generous number of courses that directly focus on the mental health field and its involvement with the legal system. The Glenn M. Weaver Institute of Law and Psychiatry is an incredible addition to the school’s curriculum, and being a fellow of the Institute has been an invaluable benefit to my future legal career.

Through the Institute, I was able to supplement my legal education with extremely valuable experiences relating to the mental health field. One of the opportunities offered is participating in the annual symposium which focuses on the application of important psychiatric topics to the legal arena. It also features many talented and nationally recognized speakers. Last year, the symposium focused on the human genome, and this year, the symposium focuses on neuroscience and its impact on the law.

In addition to assisting in the organization of the symposium and participating in many other experiences, Weaver fellows are asked to write and submit a paper for publication that addresses an issue in the areas of law and psychiatry. With the guidance of the directors of the Institute, Dr. Douglas Mossman, a psychiatrist, and Betsy Malloy, a law professor, I am working on a paper involving the risk assessment of sex offenders and how psychiatric diagnoses should be considered when evaluating their future risk of re-offending.

The Weaver Institute does an excellent job of highlighting the importance of the interaction between the law and the mental health field, and I am very fortunate to attend a law school that offers a fellowship focusing on my two favorite academic disciplines. My law school experience would have been much less gratifying without the Institute.