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.

Issues affecting the legal community such as substance abuse, depression, and suicide have recently been in the spotlight. One might think it troubling how frequently these issues make the news and find their way into journals, as it reflects how widespread the problems really are. Indeed, there is cause for concern, but shining a light on these topics encourages people to speak up their own struggles and seek help, uncovers the need for overdue rule changes, and inspires new and improved programs for rehabilitation. The recent articles below, as well as other posts on this blog, are just some examples of how members of the legal community are sharing their stories, and how bar associations and lawyer assistance programs (LAPs) are shining a light on the issues and offering assistance.

Life After Meth: A Journey of Addiction and Recovery, by Douglas Wilson (NW Lawyer, a publication of the Washington State Bar Association, Vol. 68, No. 4, Jun 2014, cover story)

Through the Open Door: A Bipolar Attorney Talks Mania, Recovery and Heaven on Earth, by Hilary Martin Chaney (The Arkansas Lawyer, a publication of the Arkansas Bar Association, Vol. 49, No. 2, Spring 2014, pg. 42)

All Stressed Out and Nowhere to Go, by Vicki Olds (The Advocate, a publication of the Idaho State Bar, May 2014, Vol. 57, No. 5, pg. 38)

Lawyers and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, by Tish Vincent (Michigan Bar Journal, a publication of the State Bar of Michigan, June 2014, pg. 58)

Law students seeking admission to the North Dakota Bar now have less to worry about if they have been treated for mental health or substance abuse problems in the past. On July 1st, the Supreme Court of North Dakota adopted amendments to North Dakota Supreme Court Admission to Practice Rule 2, Standards for Admission, adding the following section:

“Seeking counsel from the State Bar Association of North Dakota Lawyer Assistance Program (LAP) for mental health or substance abuse problems that might affect law practice administration or compromise professional competence may not be considered adversely by the Board in its evaluation. If the applicant chooses to participate in a program designed for the applicant by LAP and successfully completes that program by the time of graduation, the evidence of such rehabilitation and recovery may be considered favorably by the Board when evaluating the applicant’s character and fitness. The applicant’s failure to complete a treatment program may be considered adversely by the Board.”

The North Dakota Lawyer Assistance Committee (LAP) had proposed the change back in November of 2013, along with a proposal to change North Dakota Supreme Court Administrative Rule 49 to extend LAP services and confidentiality to students attending the University of North Dakota School of Law. The amendments to Rule 49 were adopted April 30, 2014, effective June 1, 2014; the amendments to Rule 2 will be effective October 1, 2014.

For more information, click here.

2014 CoLAP Conf  Reg  Brochure (2)_Page_1

The 2014 Conference is being held in Nashville, Tennessee starting Tuesday, October 7 until Friday, October 10, 2014. This year’s conference theme is “Getting in Tune – Lawyers Helping Lawyers in Music City.” The conference will have sessions of interest to judges, disciplinary staff, bar leaders, lawyer assistance program directors and staff, law school administrators and law firm managers, as well as abundant opportunities to network with LAP personnel and volunteers involved in lawyer assistance programs from across the U.S. and Canada.

Conference programming will include such varied sessions/topics as: “Treatment and Recovery Enhancement for Sustained Recovery,” “The Roadmap to Wellness: Incorporating Attachment Theory and the Trauma Model in the Recovery/Discovery Process,” “Find Your People,” “What’s New in Drug and Alcohol Testing: New Markers and Devices for Monitoring Participants,” “Judicial Roundtables – Building Community Among Judges,” “Founders Presentation,” “The Health of Today’s Law Students: Reporting Results of a National Survey on Well-Being of Law Students and Discussing Next Steps,” “Pragmatism or Saving a Life…How about Both,” “Living Well – One Day at a Time.”

In addition, the Conference features an Exhibit Hall of facilities from around the US and Canada that focus on treating drug abuse, addictions, mood disorders, eating disorders, etc. This is a wonderful opportunity to discover new facilities and interact face to face with the facilities you use currently.

For more information, including registration, exhibitor registration, the schedule, hotel accommodations, speakers and travel information, click here.

Visit CoLAP Nashville’s Facebook page here.


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