Follow the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs on Twitter .
Proposed Resolution 103
Based on the comments received from various groups both inside and outside the ABA, the Working Group has decided to withdraw Resolution 103.
Arkansas JLAP Seeking New Executive Director
The Arkansas Supreme Court seeks an Executive Director for its Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program (JLAP) to provide administrative, outreach, and clinical services for Arkansas judges, lawyers, and law students. The applicant must have sufficient administrative expertise to competently manage a human services state/non-profit program. The ED should have a Master’s or JD degree and be licensed in Arkansas as a mental health clinician with at least five years of clinical experience working with adults. He or she must be knowledgeable in the areas of substance abuse/addiction, psychiatric disorders, trauma, and cognitive impairment. Send cover letter of interest and resume to Dr. Sarah Cearley.
ABA House of Delegates Adopts Lawyer Well-Being Resolution at Midyear Meeting
The ABA House of Delegates adopted Resolution 105 at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Vancouver, which supports the goal of reducing mental health and substance use disorders and improving the well-being of lawyers, judges and law students, and urges stakeholders within the legal profession to consider the recommendations set out in The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change from the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being.
Resolution 105 was primarily sponsored by the Working Group to Advance Well-Being in the Legal Profession, an ABA Presidential Initiative. Resolution 105 was co-sponsored by the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs, the ABA Standing Committee on Professionalism and the National Organization of Bar Counsel.
Proposed House of Delegates Resolution 105
The ABA Working Group to Advance Well-Being in the Legal Profession, a Presidential Initiative, the Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs, the Standing Committee on Professionalism and the National Organization of Bar Counsel are cosponsoring Resolution 105 at the 2018 Midyear Meeting. The resolution encourages stakeholders to consider the recommendations set out in the report, "The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change," promulgated by the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being. The resolution is available here. The Task Force Report is available here. The sponsors ask for your support. To provide your support or feedback, contact Stephanie Custard. Talking Points about the resolution are available here.
New ABA Working Group to Advance Well-Being in the Legal Profession
In September 2017, at President Hilarie Bass’s request, the ABA Board of Governors created an ABA Presidential Working Group consisting of representatives from lawyer assistance programs, law firms, bar associations and malpractice insurance carriers to examine and make recommendations regarding the current state of attorney mental health and substance use issues with an emphasis on helping legal employers support healthy work environments. Read more in ABA Journal article, "ABA works to address attorney substance use and mental health disorders." Access the Working Group website here.
The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change
"A coalition of groups, including the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs, released today a comprehensive report, The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change, aimed at addressing the problem of substance use and mental health disorders of lawyers."
Read the full ABA Press Release, "Growing concern over well-being of lawyers leads to comprehensive new recommendations."
The report is a product of the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being, assembled in August 2016 to "create a movement towards improving the health and well-being of the legal profession.” The report's recommendations focus on five central themes: (1) identifying stakeholders and the role each of us can play in reducing the level of toxicity in our profession, (2) eliminating the stigma associated with help-seeking behaviors, (3) emphasizing that well-being is an indispensable part of a lawyer’s duty of competence, (4) educating lawyers, judges, and law students on lawyer well-being issues, and (5) taking small, incremental steps to change how law is practiced and how lawyers are regulated to instill greater well-being in the profession.
The report provides recommendations – along with state action plans with simple checklists – to multiple legal stakeholders, including legal employers, regulators, the judiciary, law schools, professional liability carriers and bar associations.
Access more information as well as News Coverage and Developments.
2017 Meritorious Service Award Winners
The 2017 Meritorious Service Award winners are Linda Albert and Patrick Krill, for their tireless efforts toward The Prevalence of Substance Use and Other Mental Health Concerns Among American Attorneys, a collaborative study by ABA CoLAP and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation examining alcohol use, substance use, mental health issues and help-seeking behaviors of lawyers.
The 2017 Meritorious Service Award for Law Student Wellness winner is Megan Cunningham, a rising 3L at Boston University School of Law, for her vital part in the establishment and growth of theRecovery@BU program, a Collegiate Recovery Program that offers services, support and fun for students in recovery.
View the full list of awards and past recipients.
Recap of Suicide Prevention Twitter Chat
On June 27, 2017 CoLAP (@ABACoLAP) hosted a live Twitter Chat on “Suicide Prevention and Postvention in the Legal Profession.” Throughout the chat, guests Kate Bender, Programming Director of the Dave Nee Foundation (@NeeFoundation) and Yvette Hourigan, Executive Director of the Kentucky Lawyer Assistance Program (@KYLAPtweets), discussed the disproportionately high rate of suicides in the legal profession, symptoms or behaviors that might indicate a person may be considering attempting suicide, how to get help or refer someone else to help, and ways law schools and law firms can better address suicide.
Click here for a recap of the conversation, which contains links to resources and important information about suicide in the legal profession.
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 webpage includes 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.