Wisconsin LAP Announces New Member Roster

The Wisconsin Lawyers Assistance Program (WisLAP) has posted a new Committee Members Roster, updated as of August 23, 2010. Information is also available for others interested in committee participation.

As explained earlier, WisLAP is Wisconsin’s lawyer assistance program, and “provides confidential assistance to help lawyers, judges, law students, and their families cope with problems related to the stress of practicing law.” Through a network of over 150 trained volunteer lawyers and judges, WisLAP operates on the premise of Lawyers Helping Lawyers and Judges Helping Judges to address problems such as alcoholism, substance abuse, addictive behavior, and psychological problems.

Via the help line at (800) 543-2625, WisLAP offers the following services 24/7 on a confidential basis, without requiring callers to disclose their identity and without keeping any case records:

  • Initial evaluation
  • Referrals
  • Peer assistance
  • Consultation
  • Education, including CLE programs
  • Outreach
  • Intervention

Alabama LAP Foundation Financially Assists Lawyers in Need of Treatment

Earlier we introduced the Alabama Lawyer Assistance Program (ALAP) and its various services and resources. One service available to Alabama lawyers is the Alabama Lawyer Assistance Foundation (ALAF), a nonprofit 501(c) (3) corporation managed by an elected Board of Directors. (Here is a list of the members of the 2009-10 Board of Directors.) The purpose of the foundation is to provide financial assistance to Alabama lawyers who suffer from addiction, depression, and other mental health illnesses, but who lack the resources to pay for appropriate help.

A problem many lawyers in need face is that when their requirement for medical help is the greatest, they have exhausted all their financial means to pay for it. ALAF enters at this point, with a revolving loan fund that gives lawyers in need the opportunity to get treatment.  Loans from the fund are paid directly to the treatment care providers. As the ALAF website notes, “ALAF provides the necessary means to get lawyers treatment during the most difficult times. Repayment is expected once the lawyer is back on his or her feet, so money will be available to aid the next lawyer in need.”

Oregon LAP Presents “18 Holes” Fundraiser September 23

On September 23 in Portland, the Oregon Attorney Assistance Program (OAAP) of the Oregon State Bar (OSB) will host a fundraising lunchtime CLE session entitled “18 Holes – 18 Cases About the Game of Golf“. The registration deadline is September 20.

The program will be presented by Kathryn Pratt in memory of Michael J. Sweeney, creator of the Oregon Lawyer Assistance Foundation (OLAF), to honor his lifelong dedication to helping others and his 18 years as an attorney counselor at the OAAP.

Funds raised from the CLE will benefit OLAF, a charitable organization that provides grants to Oregon lawyers who are unable to afford the treatment they need for depression, anxiety, other mental health issues, or addiction. OLAF is funded exclusively through private donations. Through the work of volunteers, 99% of all donations go directly to treatment grants or loans. OLAF works closely with the OAAP, issuing grants and loans to lawyers in need who access the OAAP. More information about OLAF is in this publication on the OAAP website.

Missouri Lawyers Assistance Conference October 22-23

The Missouri Lawyers Assistance Program (MOLAP) has announced that the Fifteenth Annual Missouri Lawyers Assistance Conference will be held on October 22-23 in Kansas City MO. The conference, presented by MOLAP with the assistance of the Lawyers Assistance Committee of The Missouri Bar, has as its theme “Skills to Help the Hurting”. The Agenda and Full Conference Brochure are available in pdf on the conference website, as well as fully online with a registration link. The conference website also contains a pdf registration form and hotel reservation information; a special conference rate is available for hotel reservations received by September 21. The conference qualifies for 7.2 hours of MCLE credit.

MOLAP, a resource of The Missouri Bar, is a professional, confidential counseling program for members of The Missouri Bar, their families, and law students that offers free counseling to lawyers suffering from substance abuse or a variety of other personal problems.

South Carolina LHL Program Links

The Lawyers Helping Lawyers (LHL) program of the South Carolina Bar has provided a number of helpful and informative links relating to addiction, recovery, stress, treatment programs, assistance organizations, and the like. Here is a sampling of the links included in LHL’s list:

Wisconsin LAP Roundup

WisLAP is Wisconsin’s lawyer assistance program, and helps “lawyers, judges, law students, and their families cope with problems related to the stress of practicing law.”

Run through a network of 150 trained volunteer lawyers and judges, WisLAP offers services such as peer counseling, interventions, CLE education sessions, referrals and consultations. The WisLAP website includes various articles on addiction, depression, women’s issues, prescription medication abuse, retirement, etc.

WisLAP offers 24/7 confidential support through their helpline at 1-800-543-2625. Callers are not required to identify themselves.

Contact information for committee members is available at the WisLAP website.

Washington LAP Roundup

The Washington State Lawyer Assistance Program (LAP) is our focus for this  roundup. LAP helps Washington state lawyers, judges and third-year law students with direct, confidential mental health and addictions counseling, by licensed psychologists Dr. Dan Crystal and Barbara Harper.

LAP also offers education and referrals, and has a large peer counselor network to help lawyers who need support, particularly in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, job-related and diversity issues. The LAP website includes resources on aging & retirement, addiction, depression, eating disorders, and stress. LAP also has a lending library of books that WSBA members may borrow.

LAP is also offering job seeking support through weekly and monthly group meetings

LAP’s toll-free number is 1- 800-945-WSBA. Contact details for LAP Coordinator Peggy Harkrader are available at the LAP website.

Virginia LAP Roundup

Virginia’s lawyer assistance program is Lawyers Helping Lawyers. Established in 1985,the program provides confidential and non-disciplinary assistance for members of the Virginia bar dealing with substance abuse and mental health issues.

Attorneys, judges, family members or friends can make a referral by calling the 24-hour hotline at 1-877-545-4682. From there, “the Executive Director and a statewide network of volunteers respond to referrals and develop an action plan that best fits each unique situation. They work to verify the problem and assist the person into whatever support and treatment is needed.”

Lawyers Helping Lawyers’ Executive Director is James E. Leffler. Contact details for the director, liaisons, and board members is available at the Lawyers Helping Lawyers website.

Lawyers and Depression

Today’s post was authored by Hal Nevitt, Director of the State Bar of Arizona Member Assistance Program. We welcome his submission as well as those from other lawyer assistance programs.

Life in today’s world can be tumultuous, particularly with the recent change in the economic structure of our lives. Even in the best of times we all experience fluctuations in our moods.  Sadness is a normal reaction to life’s losses, stressors, and struggles.

Depression, a condition that is different than sadness can manifest itself in our lives in many different ways. It can disrupt sleep and appetite. There may be an inability to focus or concentrate on material that is vital to a person’s occupation or personal life. There may be feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness that pervade one’s entire existence.

With the intensity of these emotional states there is little wonder that people describe themselves as apathetic, devoid of happiness, satisfaction or even the perceived ability to change. Life is not only empty, it is experienced as living in “black hole” where activities and relationships that were once and satisfying are now boring and lifeless.

Lawyers are at increased risk for depression. Recent studies indicate that lawyers suffer depression at a rate twice that of other occupations. If you or someone you know is experiencing depression please reach out, get help.

The Member Assistance Program of the State Bar of Arizona can help. For confidential response and referral please call Hal Nevitt at 602-340-7334 or 602-885-4533.

The State Bar of Arizona Member Assistance Program website includes several resources on depression: info on signs, symptoms, and how to mitigate/treat depression, a depression & mania self-test, and an article on dealing with depression.

Vermont LAP Roundup

Vermont’s lawyer assistance program is Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers (LCL). Since 1987, LCL has helped Vermont lawyers deal with issues ranging from depression, anxiety, and stress to alcohol, drug, and gambling addiction. LCL also offers support for marital and family problems. One newer service is support for lawyers searching for a new line of work.

LCL’s hotline is 1-800-525-0210; calls will be confidential.