Thursday, April 2, 1:00-2:00pm Eastern

Substance abuse and addictions affect attorneys and their licenses. Learn how to recognize a legal professional with an impairment and the resources available to them and their colleagues. This program will examine:
• Signs and symptoms of substance use problems among legal professionals;
• Understanding addiction as an illness: the brain keeps the score;
• Treatment options;
• The interface between disciplinary action and impairment;
• Obligations to report an attorney with an impairment; and
• Lawyer Assistance Programs and how they assist attorneys and their colleagues.

Panelists include CoLAP Commission member Linda Albert and Advisory Committee member Tracy L. Kepler. Co-sponsored by the ABA Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division and Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP).


Suicide Outreach in Florida

Alarming national trends as well as tragic events close to home have prompted the Florida Lawyers Assistance program (FLA) to develop a new outreach program to further educate the legal community about suicide. Their goal is to raise awareness about the risk factors of suicide and the steps one can take when faced with someone who may be suicidal. The recent Florida Bar News article, “Lawyer Suicide, Finding a Ray of Sunshine through a Dark Cloud,” by Dr. Scott Weinstein, discusses the issue in more depth and provides a useful list of risk factors and guidance on responding to someone who may need help.

The ABA Law Student Division has chosen March 27th as the National Mental Health Day for law schools. On that day, law schools nationwide are encouraged to provide programming and other resources that educate students about depression and anxiety. Recently, the Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP), the ABA Law Student Division, and the Dave Nee Foundation have collaborated to create the “Substance Abuse and Mental Health Toolkit for Law Students and Those Who Care About Them.” The Toolkit is an extremely helpful resource that law schools and students can use as they work to address mental health issues on March 27th and in the years to follow.


Molly Ranns, an experienced case monitor with the Lawyers & Judges Assistance Program at the State Bar of Michigan, has recently written “Opioid Maintenance Therapy and Monitoring,” a paper that she says “examines the ever-growing, and sometimes daunting, task of monitoring clients on maintenance therapy for opioid addiction. It addresses what we, in our unique position as monitoring programs, can do to hold our clients accountable while supporting them in their recoveries.”

You can access her paper here.

A recent report out of Yale Law School titled, “Falling Through the Cracks” shows that 70% of respondents to the school’s Mental Health Alliance survey have struggled with mental health issues at some point while in law school. The survey represents 296 students out of the approximate 650 who are enrolled. Out of those who reported a mental health challenge, 77% responded that they considered seeking treatment, but only 62% actually did. Among the various reasons for not seeking treatment were a lack of trust in Yale Health’s mental health and counseling services and confidentiality policies, long wait times for services, and exclusion from faculty, administrators, peers, and state bar associations. The Report recommends ways to address Yale’s limitations in access to health care, as well as suggests ways to destigmatize mental illness such as through increased programming.

For more on the Report, see this Yale Daily News article.

Access the full Report through Scribd.

Findings in a recent study suggest that employees who work more than 48 hours a week are more likely to consume alcohol at levels that pose a health risk. The Finnish study, which was recently published in the medical journal and online publication BMJ, was conducted to quantify the association between long working hours and alcohol use. Specifically, researchers found that those who worked 49-54 hours each week were 13% more likely to engage in risky drinking compared with those who worked 35-40 hours each week; similarly, those who worked 55 hours a week or more were 12% more likely. The association is troubling for lawyers, who are known for long work weeks and late nights.

Read the full study here.

Read coverage of the study from NPR, Medical News Today, and the ABA Journal.

The Louisiana Bar has dedicated its Dec/Jan journal to “Mindfulness, Mental Health and Lawyers Assistance.” From the President’s Message, through 10 separate feature articles, this important theme is carried throughout the entire issue. Articles include:

President’s Message: This Holiday Season
By Joseph L. (Larry) Shea, Jr.
Focus: Mindfulness, Mental Health and Lawyers Assistance
By Hon. Jay C. Zainey
LAP, Inc. Offers Comprehensive Life-Saving Services
By J.E. (Buddy) Stockwell
Reach Out! Suicide Prevention Using QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer)
By Leah Rosa
What Do We Want? Mindfulness in Law!
By Scott L. Rogers
Establish Mindfulness and Reduce Your Stress: Be Pro Active and Create Balance
By Ann H. Abbrecht
The Enlightened Lawyer: Overcoming Stress and Creating Balance
By Dr. Geralyn Datz
Improving Attorney Quality of Life: The Emerging Role of Dialectical Behavior Therapy
By Daliah L. Bauer, Ph.D.
Addiction and Treatment in a Professional Population
By Dr. Jay A. Weiss
The Right Way to Help
By Jeff Jay
One Lawyer’s Journey Through Depression
By Dan T. Lukasik

Access the whole December 2014/January 2015 Louisiana Bar Journal here.


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