A Call to Action: The Path to Lawyer Well-Being

Across the nation, lawyers’ assistance programs are encouraged by a new report that has every potential to be the catalyst for long overdue change in the legal profession.

The report, The Path to Lawyer Well-Being, calls for all major stakeholders to get involved first-hand in a mission to support the wellness and mental health of judges, lawyers and law students. Entitled “The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change” it is by far the most comprehensive document ever generated as to precisely how courts, regulators, law firms, law schools, bar associations, liability carriers, and lawyers assistance programs can best work in concert to improve our collective well-being.

All stakeholders are encouraged to apply their respective expertise and influence within a unified mission to effectively address the plague of substance abuse, mental health, and general well-being threats that damage so many lives and careers in our profession (and often clients as well).

The report was generated by a national task force initiated by the American Bar Association’s Commission on Lawyers Assistance Programs (ABA CoLAP), the National Organization of Bar Counsel (NOBC), and the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers (APRL). Their recommendations represent literally thousands of hours of work. Scores of dedicated individuals participated, all with the experience and expertise that is required to provide a realistic roadmap to improved wellness.

The full report can be accessed here: The Path to Lawyer Well-Being Report

It was two years ago, in 2015, that a prior report was released:  The Prevalence of Attorney Substance Abuse and Mental Health Issues. It confirmed what we already knew: a shocking percentage of our brothers and sisters in the legal profession are suffering from various degrees of diagnosable substance abuse and mental health disorders. And in addition, many more still are simply unhappy and unfulfilled to various degrees in the practice of the law.

To sum it up neatly, this has been a two-stage process. The 2015 study provided a stunning snapshot of the true pervasiveness of mental health and well-being issues within our profession. Now, in 2017, and in direct response to the very serious challenges identified in the 2015 study, we have in-hand a comprehensive report that realistically sets a new course for all of us to steer toward if we are in fact going to do what must be done to improve the health and well-being of legal professionals.

There are five (5) central themes of focus in the 2017 report: 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.

As to the overarching, general recommendation for all stakeholders, the authors suggest that the first step is for everyone to acknowledge the problems and take responsibility. Every single person can make a difference within their own spheres to shift from “passive denial of problems to proactive support for change.”

Of course, the report recommends that all stakeholders partner directly with, and ensure stable and sufficient funding for, their state-based lawyer assistance program to deliver specialized clinical assistance and programming that is specifically tailored for the needs of lawyers, judges, and law students, etc.

Our Louisiana JLAP has been aggressively and proactively improving its programming and services in the last five years. JLAP is now a comprehensive, full-service professionals’ program that provides a complete array of confidential mental health support services to the profession.

JLAP remains dedicated to delivering the finest professional support possible to the Louisiana legal profession and its stakeholders as we all begin to traverse this new path together toward significantly improving lawyer mental health, wellness and well-being.

We need your help too! Per the authors of the 2017 report: “We invite you to read this report, which sets forth the basis for why the legal profession is at a tipping point, and we present these recommendations and action plans for building a more positive future. We call on you to take action and hear our clarion call.” So, if you can, please lend a hand. Reach out to JLAP for ideas on how you can get involved. And please encourage those within your sphere of influence to get involved too.

August 31st, 2017|

JLAP Summer 2017 Newsletter

You can download and read the recent Summer Newsletter here: JLAP’s 2017 Summer Newsletter

JLAP is very excited this Summer to highlight its ongoing progress in delivering life-saving mental health and wellness support to the profession and its family members.

Perhaps the most encouraging news of all is that JLAP has seen a dramatic increase in the profession’s utilization of JLAP’s completely confidential services. In these cases, people are seeking help proactively, before their mental health issues ripen into disciplinary matters.

The newsletter also clearly explains the differences in JLAP’s services in the realm of bar admissions and disciplinary matters, versus JLAP’s services in the realm of totally confidential services.

In total, the newsletter demonstrates JLAP’s ongoing dedication to providing the finest services possible. Of course, none of this progress would be possible without the tireless efforts of JLAP’s Board, Operations Committee and volunteers, and the strong support for JLAP by virtually all stakeholders in the profession. We are all extremely grateful for all that you do for JLAP.

Please enjoy the Summer Newsletter and if you have any questions or need more information please do not hesitate to contact JLAP!

August 22nd, 2017|

The Lawyer, The Addict

A high-powered Silicon Valley attorney dies. His ex-wife
investigates, and finds a web of drug abuse in his profession.

 

In July 2015, something was very wrong with my ex-husband, Peter. His behavior over the preceding 18 months had been erratic and odd. He could be angry and threatening one minute, remorseful and generous the next. His voice mail messages and texts had become meandering soliloquies that didn’t make sense, veering from his work travails, to car repairs, to his pet mouse, Snowball.

Continue reading here…

July 20th, 2017|

Jennifer Gros Promoted to JLAP Clinical Director

We are very excited to announce that Jennifer Gros is JLAP’s new Clinical Director! She has been on JLAP’s Professional Clinical Team as a full-time Clinical Case Manager since 2014. Jennifer is a Louisiana native, born and raised in Baton Rouge. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Louisiana State University in 2004. Thereafter she attended the University of North Texas where she was accepted into the National Scholars Honor Society and graduated Cum Laude with a Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling in 2007. Jennifer is a Master Addiction Counselor and a Licensed Professional Counselor in Louisiana.

Prior to her tenure at JLAP, Jennifer’s broad professional experience includes having practiced in both outpatient and inpatient mental health settings, providing group therapy and psychosocial assessments to patients with chronic mental illnesses. She has also served as the Clinical Director for a Residential Treatment Facility for substance use disorders.

In 2012 Jennifer was honored by the Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse for the Greater New Orleans area and received its “Excellence in Treatment” Award.

Since 2014, Jennifer has been providing outstanding clinical assistance and support to JLAP’s clients in all categories including totally confidential cases, cases referred to JLAP by the Louisiana Supreme Court’s Committee on Bar Admissions (COBA), and cases involving disciplinary matters referred to JLAP by the Office of the Disciplinary Counsel (ODC).

Please join us in congratulating Jennifer on her new role at JLAP!

May 16th, 2017|

National Workshop for State LAPs and JLAPs

On May 5-7th 2017 LAP Directors from across the country and Canada came together in Atlanta, GA, for the first ever Independent Annual Retreat for LAP Directors and Assistant Directors. The event was organized by the Louisiana, Colorado, Delaware, Montana, New Jersey, Mississippi and Montana programs

Attendance was limited to LAP Directors and Assistant Directors only, and this one-and-one-half day seminar was a closed, confidential forum for LAPs’ Staff to discuss internal operating challenges and share experiences on how to address them. LAP Directors came to Atlanta from as far away as Vancouver BC and even the Hawaiian Islands.

Several presentations were made, including Louisiana’s presentation wherein the Michigan and Louisiana Directors made a presentation on Louisiana’s JLAP Performance Audit and answered questions about the Audit. The attendees were very grateful that the Louisiana Audit was available to them. Many other presentations and topics were covered by various State LAPs over the course of the weekend and it was a great success. LAP Directors are already committed repeating the seminar next year.

May 16th, 2017|

JLAP is an exhibitor at the New Orleans Bar Association’s 2017 Bench Bar Conference in Point Clear, Alabama

Buddy Stockwell greets attendees at the New Orleans Bar Association’s 2017 Bench Bar Conference at The Grand Hotel in Point Clear, Alabama.

March 31st, 2017|

JLAP Performance Audit

Louisiana’s JLAP has successfully completed one of the most arduous and comprehensive performance audits ever performed of a professionals’ program. The audit has deemed JLAP a top-tier program.

You can read the full story and see the JLAP Performance Audit and JLAP’s Response to the Audit here:

JLAP Performance Audit

March 28th, 2017|

JLAP’s Annual Report FYE 2015-16

The Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program, Inc. (JLAP) has published its Annual Report for fiscal year 2015-2016. You can review the entire report here: JLAP Annual Report 2015-2016

The most exciting achievement in the last year is that the majority of JLAP cases in 2015-16 involved persons reaching out to JLAP voluntarily and confidentially. In many cases they obtained completely discrete help from JLAP before there was any harm to their career, the profession, or the public. This reflects JLAP’s recent campaigns to raise awareness about JLAP’s totally confidential help.

As to program improvements, the new JLAP now offers a wide array of mental health assistance and is now a comprehensive professionals’ program that offers help with all types of mental health issues, not just alcohol and drug issues.

Achievements include:

1) Restructuring JLAP’s governance;

2) Amending La. R.S. 37:221 to include judges programing and also expand JLAP’s clinical scope to include all mental health issues;

3) Recruiting and developing a full-time Professional Clinical Staff;

4) The development of Professional Intervention Services;

5) A new JLAP Diversion Track available to judges involved in disciplinary matters;

6) The creation of a comprehensive JLAP website;

7) A new JLAP Exhibit and Mediation Training classes at the LSBA’s Summer School;

8) New law school outreach services including wellness presentations and “JLAP Office Hours” wherein a JLAP Clinician periodically travels to law schools and offers free, confidential mental health services onsite to law students thereby greatly increasing their access to mental health support;

9) Expansion of CLE presentation topics to provide education on mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and perfectionism, and compassion fatigue;

10) New protocol for assisting those who contact JLAP confidentially about a mental health issues;

11) In-house library of available professionals’-level publications that address various mental health issues that lawyers and judges predominantly face, with these materials provided based upon the individual’s needs;

12) Improvement of JLAP’s formal monitoring services resulting in a no-relapse and fitness-to-practice efficacy rate of 90% or better.

With many challenges complete, JLAP is now offering comprehensive services that will help save more lives and careers than ever before.

And this mission has never been more important to the health of the legal profession. As discussed in the JLAP Annual Report, a recent study (included as an attachment to the Annual Report) reveals stunning levels of substance use disorders and other mental health issues such as depression in the legal profession. JLAP’s services are now more important than ever, and as the Annual Report demonstrates, JLAP is now meeting the demand to provide effective and reliable clinical support to the profession on all levels.

February 2nd, 2017|

2017 Annual JLAP Wellness CLE

Please join JLAP for the 2017 Annual Wellness CLE to be held at the Renaissance Hotel in Baton Rouge on Friday, March 24, 2017.
Check-in begins at 7:30 a.m. with a continental breakfast.
Earn up to 5.0 CLE hours including Ethics and Professionalism.

For additional information Click here.
Register here.

January 31st, 2017|

Facing Addiction in America

facing-addiction

The first-ever Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health reviews what we know about substance misuse and how you can use that knowledge to address substance misuse and related consequences.

To see the full report, click here.

December 19th, 2016|