There’s still a great deal of “defensiveness” in the legal profession regarding the high prevalence of drug and alcohol abuse, mental health problems, and similar impairment issues, said Patrick R. Krill, former director of the Legal Professionals Program at Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and principal and founder of Krill Strategies.
Whether because of confidentiality fears, uncertainty about the exact nature of the problem, or some other issue, putting off a call to the lawyer assistance program for too long can end a career—or a life, said Terry L. Harrell, executive director of the Indiana Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program and chair of the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs.
Krill, along with Linda Albert, a licensed clinical social worker and certified alcohol and drug counselor at the State Bar of Wisconsin, spoke at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the National Association of Bar Executives. Later that week, Harrell addressed members of the National Conference of Bar Presidents, on a panel that also included Raul Ayala, a member of the ABA CoLAP Advisory Committee, and Bree Buchanan, director of the Texas Lawyers' Assistance Program at the State Bar of Texas.
Albert and Krill, along with another researcher, were co-authors of a landmark study that was conducted by Hazelden Betty Ford and ABA CoLAP and published earlier this year in the Journal of Addiction Medicine. Together, the two programs gave bar leaders and staff members a detailed synopsis of the study, and an inside view of a crisis in the profession.