About the Author
Donald N. Bersoff retired from full-time academic life in August 2001. From 1990 to 2001 he directed the JD-PhD Program in Law and Psychology jointly sponsored by Villanova Law School and Drexel University's Department of Psychology. He now consults with attorneys and mental health professionals on ethical issues. He received his PhD from New York University in 1965 and his JD in 1976 from Yale Law School, where he was an editor of the Yale Law Journal
. Between his PhD and his JD degrees, Bersoff served as a clinical psychologist in the U.S. Air Force (1965-1968), spending two of those years in Southeast Asia. He then taught at three universities training future psychologists while maintaining a part-time private practice. In 1976 he joined the faculties of the University of Maryland School of Law and the Johns Hopkins University Department of Psychology, where he developed the nation's second Law and Psychology Program.
In 1979, Bersoff became the first general counsel of the American Psychological Association (APA). Two years later he helped found the law firm of Ennis, Friedman, Bersoff and Ewing. In his capacity as APA legal counsel (1979-1989), he prepared more than 25 briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court and an equal number in lower federal and state courts, informing these courts of social science evidence relevant to the issues before them. During this time he also served as legal consultant to the APA Ethics Committee, drafted a precursor of its current Rules and Procedures, and participated in all of the 30 meetings the committee held for the decade. Bersoff is the author of over 100 chapters, articles, and papers on ethics and the interaction of law, psychology, and public policy. He is an APA fellow and an ABPP diplomate in school psychology. He has been elected to three terms as a member of the APA Council of Representatives, the APA's legislative body. During the first two of these terms (1977 and 1992), he participated in passing a revised ethics code. From 1994 to 1997 he served on the APA Board of Directors, which functions in one capacity to independently review the work of the Ethics Committee in cases resulting in recommendations to assess the most serious of sanctions. In 1999, he served as chair of APA's Policy and Planning Board. Bersoff has served as president of the American Psychology-Law Society, on the American Bar Association's Commission on the Mentally Disabled, and as chair of the Section on Mental Disability Law of the Association of American Law Schools. He is a member of the Pennsylvania, District of Columbia, and Maryland Bars as well as of the Bar of the U.S. Supreme Court. He was given the Arthur Furst Ethics Lectureship Award for "Outstanding Contributions to the Field of Ethics" in 1997, the Pennsylvania Psychological Association's Ethics Educator of the Year Award in 2000, and on his retirement, the American Psychology-Law Society's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002.
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