The panel continues the SLD education outreach following the publication of its report, Experienced Lawyers, American Families, and the Opioid Crisis (PDF) in 2018, and the passage of the Division’s resolution by the House of Delegates in January 2019 (House Resolution 108). The panel also continues the Division focus on expanding access to treatment, education and advocacy; strengthening support for individuals and families struggling with OUD; and enacting legal and policy reforms that increase access to treatment and recovery.
The starting point for the panel was the requirements of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Rule 1.14(a), dealing with a client with diminished capacity. Prof. Lynk explained that the Rule requires that a lawyer shall, “as far as reasonably possible, maintain a normal client-lawyer relationship with the client.” It is only when a lawyer reasonably believes that the client may be at risk of “substantial physical, financial or other harm unless action is taken and cannot adequately act in the client's own interest” that a lawyer may take “protective action.” Rule 1.14(b).
Ms. Vincent detailed how OUD implicates the disciplinary process when it impacts the provision of legal services. Lawyer assistance programs play an important role in dealing with lawyers’ addiction before and after the lawyer has evidenced coping issues due to OUD.
Dr. Dineen emphasized the need to focus on multidisciplinary approaches to the crisis. Comprehensive treatment, including medically assisted treatment, is required in many cases. The law may be behind in the medical field. Dr. Dineen examined four broad categories of OUD:
- Impaired control;
- Social problems;
- Risky use; and,
- Drug use effects represented in eleven clinical diagnostic criteria of disorder.
Dr. Dineen examined the gold standard in OUD treatment as medication-assisted treatment (e.g., methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone).
The panelists papers will be set forth in an upcoming issue of Experience Magazine.