The current issue of the Ohio Lawyer magazine features a cover story titled, “Warning signs: The dangers of attorney stress.” The article notes the development of a new web-based self-assessment tool designed to encourage self-referral. The tool is being developed by the Ohio Lawyer Assistance Program (OLAP) with the support of the Ohio State Bar Foundation. The author explains that despite nearly 100 presentations a year to inform the legal community about OLAP, stigma and fear of a damaged reputation continue to create barriers to treatment. The new tool seeks to alleviate some of those concerns by offering a lawyer-specific self-inventory and self-directed education learning modules. As former CoLAP member and OLAP executive director Scott Mote says about the new tool, “In the privacy of one’s offices barriers can be breached…”

Access the article here, written by Reginald S. Jackson Jr., President of the Board of OLAP

The Drug Enforcement Administration has recently made it more difficult to obtain drugs that contain hydrocodone. Hydrocodone is the most frequently-prescribed painkiller in the US, with prescriptions reaching over 137 million in 2013. After conducting an extensive evaluation, the DEA concluded that the high potential for abuse, dependence and harm associated with Hydrocodone Combination Products (HCPs) – drugs containing hydrocodone and another substance such as acetaminophen or aspirin – have justified their transfer to a more restrictive category under the Controlled Substances Act. According to the CDC, prescription drug overdoses accounted for about 60% of all drug overdoses in 2010. 75% of the prescription drug overdoses were due to opioid drugs containing oxycodone, hydrocodone, or methadone.

The “rescheduling” imposes different controls and sanctions on pharmaceuticals containing hydrocodone. For instance, doctors will no longer be able to call in prescriptions over the phone and patients will no longer be allowed to get refills without a new prescription.

This shift in policy is in line with the results of the most recent CoLAP Comprehensive Survey in which Lawyer Assistance Programs reported that prescription drugs were the second most commonly-abused substance they see after alcohol.

You can access the new rule here.

You can access a recent NYTimes article on the change here.

Upcoming Events

Bullying by and of Lawyers: Why It Happens and What to Do About It?

CoLAP is co-sponsoring this upcoming CLE webinar. The program description is as follows:

An expert panel explains why bullying is a persistent problem in the bar and on the bench, examines its effects on its victims and perpetrators, and speaks from experience about the best ways to deflect, neutralize or overcome bullying conduct by other lawyers, clients, or judges, with a special emphasis on bullying of women lawyers. The panel includes practitioners, a psychologist with expertise in lawyer behavior, a judge who has developed judicial professionalism programs, and a former state bar president, who will discuss ethics rules, including Model Rules of Professional Conduct 8.4, 2.1, and 5.2. Join our panel of experts as they:

•Examine effects of bullying in the bar
•Explore effective neutralization actions
•Explore dealing with difficult judges
•Explain why the problem persists

Additional sponsors are the: Center for Professional Development, Center For Professional Responsibility, Law Practice Division, and Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division.

Register now!

The Science of Happiness, a free 10-week online course offered by The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, begins Tuesday, September 9th. As a reminder, it is designed to “explore the roots of a happy and meaningful life” and will include:

• Short videos featuring the co-instructors and guest lectures from top experts on the science of happiness;
• Articles and other readings that make the science accessible and understandable to non-academics;
• Weekly “happiness practices”—real-world exercises that students can try on their own, all based on research linking these practices to greater happiness;
• Tests, quizzes, polls, and a weekly “emotion check-in” that help students gauge their happiness and track their progress over time; and
• Discussion boards where students can share ideas with one another and submit questions to their instructor.

There’s still time to register!

The ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP) and Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section (TIPS) Present:

Keeping Legal Minds Intact: Mitigating Compassion Fatigue Among Legal Professionals
A Free CLE Webinar

People often go to law school hoping to make the world a better place. Many lawyers pursue that goal – representing victims of domestic violence, defending those facing homelessness because of foreclosure, or assisting immigrants facing deportation, for example. Yet over time, this work can lead to compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue is defined as the cumulative physical, emotional and psychological effects of being continually exposed to traumatic stories or events when working in a helping capacity. It has been studied extensively in social workers, nurses, doctors and therapists who work with victims of trauma. Recently researchers have begun to examine the impact upon legal professionals. This seminar will look at which legal professionals are most at risk, the development of compassion fatigue, the interface between attorney impairment and discipline and what individual and organizational measures can prevent and mitigate compassion fatigue.

Wednesday, October 22nd at 12:00pm-1:30pm CST

Registration information coming soon.

The United States Department of Justice and the Louisiana Supreme Court have entered into a Settlement Agreement, resolving the DOJ’s investigation into the Court’s attorney licensure system for alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The recent Agreement shifts focus from a bar applicant’s diagnosis or treatment of a mental health disability to an applicant’s past conduct.

The investigation began in March 2011 when the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law had filed a complaint on behalf of bar applicants with mental health disabilities, alleging that the applicants’ mental health disabilities were the bases for additional character and fitness inquiries and/or conditions on admission.

The Agreement includes conditions requiring the Court to: refrain from inquiring into an applicant’s mental health diagnosis or treatment, absent certain, enumerated conditions; not recommend or impose conditional admission solely on the basis of a mental health diagnosis or treatment; and individually tailor conditions on admission to address the conduct or impairment of the applicant’s ability to practice law. It also provides for compensation to seven individuals in the amount of $200,000.

Access the full Agreement here.

We previously posted an invite to join the webinar “How to Vacation as a Lawyer” hosted by the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center. If you missed it (hopefully while on vacation) or if you just want a reminder that yes, you can and should take some time off, visit the Law Technology Today (LTT) blog where the Center has posted the full webinar video.

Access the webinar video here.

Can’t get out of the office just yet? Try Yoga for Lawyers: Mind-Body Techniques to Feel Better All the Time, by Hallie N. Love and Nathalie Martin. Specifically geared towards attorneys to relieve stress, this book is filled with office-friendly versions of yoga poses and meditations like the “Desk Dog,” a play off the Downward Dog.

Purchase Yoga for Lawyers in the ABA Web Store here.

According to the Kansas Bar Association Ethics Committee, there is no professional obligation to report another lawyer’s memory lapses absent knowledge of an actual ethics violation; the Committee recommends that these types of concerns be referred to the Kansas Lawyers Assistance Program (KALAP). The Committee recently opined on the issue in response to an inquiry from a law firm. A partner within the firm had been showing signs of “possible cognitive degeneration” in the form of memory lapses. When the lawyer left the firm but continued to practice, the firm then questioned whether it had a duty to report the lawyer to the Kansas Disciplinary Administrator.

After analyzing the facts under Rule 8.3 (Duty to Report) and Rule 1.1 (Competence), the Committee concluded that:

(a) A lawyer has no duty to report another lawyer for perceived memory lapses which have not resulted in acts or omissions which, in the lawyer’s opinion, represent violations of the KRPC; and

(b) Consideration should be given to a referral of the subject lawyer to KALAP for such evaluation and assistance as may be indicated.

See the KBA Legal Ethics Opinion No. 14-01 here.

Bloomberg BNA reported on the recent development in the context of other ethics opinions (ABA and state) that discuss a duty to report misconduct resulting from suspected impairment – you can access the article here.


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