Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs

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The ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs has the mandate to educate the legal profession concerning alcoholism, chemical dependencies, stress, depression and other emotional health issues, and assist and support all bar associations and lawyer assistance programs in developing and maintaining methods of providing effective solutions for recovery.



National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-TALK (8255), National, Toll-Free, 24 Hours

Crisis Text Line
Need help? Text START to 741-741

Directory of State and Local Lawyer Assistance Programsconfidential services and support for judges, lawyers and law students facing substance use disorders or mental health issues. 

National Helpline for Judges Helping Judges

National Resources

Economic Recovery Resources

Law Student ListServ
CoLAP maintains a confidential listserv for recovering law students. If you are interested in joining this group, contact Niki Irish at

The International Lawyers in Alcoholics Anonymous (ILAA) holds online meetings each Monday at 8:00 p.m and 10:00 p.m. EST. Click here to join.

More Resources



2017 Directory of State and Local Lawyer Assistance Programs Now Available

Updated annually, the Directory of State and Local Lawyer Assistance Programs identifies bar association committee chairs and program managers. They are the contact persons for programs related to alcohol or drug dependencies, clinical depression, stress, gambling, marital and other domestic problems and other personal problems. A special listing identifies lawyer assistance hotlines, many of which are toll-free, as well as such resources as the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism, the National Council on Alcoholism, International Lawyers in AA, Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

Order from the ABA Web Store Now! Price: $45.00

Free Recording of Resilience Webinar Now Available

As lawyers, many people depend on us to be at our best. This includes our clients, who depend on us to guide, help, and protect them. It also includes our families and friends, for whom we want to be our best selves. Developing resilience is critical for lawyers to maintain fitness to practice and to avoid running afoul of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct or applicable state rules. We need to be able to bounce back quickly from setbacks, face challenges with a positive perspective, and feel energized rather than depleted. Fortunately, resilience is a collection of competencies that can be developed. This webinar, which aired on December 19, 2016, provided a general overview of how to build resilience, including strategies taught by the U.S. Army to soldiers in combat. The recording of "Fierce & Gritty: Resilience Training for Lawyers" is now available at no cost. 

ABA Approves Changes to CLE Model Rule, Adding Substance Use, Mental Health Requirement

On Monday, the ABA House of Delegates approved Resolution 106 amending the ABA Model Rule for Minimum Continuing Legal Education which includes a requirement for lawyers to receive at least one hour of mental health or substance use disorder programming every three years. It also calls for one hour of diversity and inclusion programming every three years. The Resolution was sponsored by the ABA’s Standing Committee on Continuing Legal Education, Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs and Law Practice Division. Visit the Policy Committee page for state and local updates to CLE rules since this Resolution's passage as well as other recent policy developments.  

ABA Immediate Past-President Paulette Brown calls on the profession to help LAPs reduce stigma

Paulette Brown, Immediate Past President of the ABA, was the keynote speaker at the recent ABA National Conference for Lawyer Assistance Programs in Vancouver. Highlights of Ms. Brown's remarks are now available in a CoLAP Café blog post written by Joan Bibelhausen, Executive Director of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers in Minnesota and ABA CoLAP Advisory Committee Member. 

Suffering in Silence: The Survey of Law Student Well-Being and the Reluctance of Law Students to Seek Help for Substance Use and Mental Health Concerns, by: Jerome M. Organ, David B. Jaffe, and Katherine M. Bender, Ph.D.

In the spring of 2014, fifteen law schools around the country participated in the Survey of Law Student Well-Being (SLSWB). A comprehensive report of the findings is now available in the Autumn 2016 issue of the Journal of Legal Education.

The study was administered with a grant from the ABA Enterprise Fund, sponsored by the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs, Law Student Division, Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division, Young Lawyers Division and Commission on Disability Rights, as well as with support from the Dave Nee Foundation.  

"The Besden Redemption" Video

The ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP) and Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law present, "The Besden Redemption."

Laurie Besden is an attorney and the Executive Director of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers of Pennsylvania. Laurie had a privileged upbringing. She graduated college with a 3.97 GPA, and was in the top 15% of her law school class. On paper, Laurie is the definition of success. Laurie is also a drug addict...

In "The Besden Redemption," Laurie candidly shares her story. It is a remarkable story of crippling addiction, and ultimately, redemption. 

If you're struggling with a substance use disorder or mental illness, watch this video and know you're not alone. If you or your entity is in a position to pass along this powerful message, please do so now. 

Click here for the full version as well as an abridged, 3-minute version.

Recording and materials for: Charting a Sustainable Path Forward: What the ABA/Hazelden Betty Ford Study on Substance Use and Mental Health Means for the Future of the Profession

On September 15, 2016, CoLAP and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation presented the results from their collaboration on a groundbreaking new research project that collected data on the current rates of substance use, depression and anxiety among licensed attorneys throughout the United States in an ABA CLE webinar. A free recording of the program, for CLE credit, is now available, as well as the outline and handouts and the Powerpoint presentation.

Program made possible through the generous support of the Fellows of the Tort, Trial and Insurance Practice Section.

Winner of the 2016 Meritorious Service Award

The Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP) is pleased to award the 2016 CoLAP Meritorious Service Award to Jane B. Grisé, Director of Academic Success and Professor at the University of Kentucky College of Law, for her significant contributions to improving law student mental health and physical wellness. Under Grisé’s direction, the school implemented a wellness program that includes the Dean’s Challenge Program, an innovative competition that motivates students to develop healthy behaviors by awarding points – and prizes – for exercising and attending scheduled events on topics such as healthy eating, mindfulness and stress.

The 2016 Meritorious Service Award is presented on behalf of the CoLAP Law School Assistance Committee. Learn more about the Award, view past recipients and learn about the contributions of the other 2016 nominees here

The Prevalence of Substance Use and Other Mental Health Concerns Among American Attorneys

In collaboration with the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs has recently completed national research on lawyer impairment. This is a landmark study as never before has national data been gathered addressing both substance use and behavioral health concerns simultaneously. The survey examines alcohol use, substance abuse, mental health issues and help-seeking behaviors of lawyers. The results are compelling. The implications for the legal community are multifaceted and far reaching. Access the report in the Journal of Addiction Medicine here and click HERE for links to articles covering the study. 

CoLAP Member Tracy Kepler Receives Stellar Member Award

CoLAP Commission member Tracy Kepler is the recipient of the ABA Center for Professional Development's Stellar Member Award. The Stellar Member Award is given out each year to members who have made outstanding efforts to support ABA CLE initiatives.

Helping Law Students Get the Help They Need: An Analysis of Data Regarding Law Students’ Reluctance to Seek Help and Policy Recommendations for a Variety of Stakeholders 

This Bar Examiner article shares results from the Survey of Law Student Well-Being, the first survey to assess alcohol and drug use among law students since 1991. The study was administered with grants from the ABA Enterprise Fund and the Dave Nee Foundation and sponsorship in-part from CoLAP.

New Article from CoLAP Commission Member Linda Albert

Lawyer Assistance Programs: Advocating for a Systems Approach to Health and Wellness for Law Students and Legal Professionals was featured in the December 2015 issue of the Bar Examiner

Article from the CoLAP Senior Lawyers Committee

Concerns about Cognitive Impairment and Older Lawyers (ABA Senior Lawyers Division EXPERIENCE, Summer 2015)

ABA Approves New Policy - Limits Use of Mental Health-Related Inquiries for Bar Admission

On August 3rd, 2015, the House of Delegates approved Resolution 102 which calls for character and fitness questions to address conduct rather than treatment or diagnoses when inquiring into an applicant's mental health history. 

Lawyers in Transition

With assistance and input from CoLAP's Senior Lawyers Committee, the ABA Center on Professional Responsibility (CPR) has compiled resources related to end-of-career issues confronting lawyers. The new webpageincludes information and resources on topics such as succession planning, intervention, regulatory issues, senior/young lawyer opportunities and more. 

Mental Health Toolkit for Law Students

Two toolkits have been merged and updated into one digitized document, the new "Substance Abuse and Mental Health Toolkit for Law Students and Those Who Care About Them." The resource is a collaborative effort of CoLAP, the ABA Law Student Division, and the Dave Nee Foundation.



Connect with CoLAP!


Live Twitter Chat on Suicide Prevention and Postvention in the Legal Profession

June 27 @ 1pm ET

W/ guests Kate Bender, Dave Nee Foundation & Yvette Hourigan, Kentucky Lawyer Assistance Program



Sobering Statistics - Prevalence of Substance Abuse in the Legal Profession

Webinar from the National Association of Bar Executives (NABE)

June 23, 2017

2:00 PM CST


Getting Lost in Our Own Lives
A (FREE!) ABA CLE Webinar

June 28, 2017

1:00 PM - 2:00 PM ET


2017 National Conference for Lawyer Assistance Programs

October 17-19 at the Kansas City Marriott in Kansas City, Missouri


Visit the CoLAP events page for more event information and for recordings of past webinars. 


For details on the Commission’s activities, view its Informational Report to the House of Delegates.

See the rosters for a list of: 

Download the CoLAP Business Meeting Minutes. View the Minutes Archive.