Frequently Asked Questions
JLAP was originally incorporated as the Lawyers Assistance Program (LAP) in 1992 and its mission was predominantly focused on addressing high rates of alcoholism in the profession. In 2015, LAP was re-structured and re-named the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program in order to expand its mission and formally denote that JLAP’s confidential assistance is now comprehensive and available for any mental health issue and that all members of the profession are served including members of the Judiciary.
JLAP’s Board of Directors is comprised of a mixture of leaders from the LSBA, leaders from JLAP and the LSBA’s Committee on Alcohol, and Drug Abuse (CADA), and a sitting judge. Click here for a list of our Board of Directors
Louisiana’s JLAP operates in a stand-alone office located in Mandeville, Louisiana, that operates independently from the LSBA (or any other entity in the profession) so as to ensure that confidentiality is dependable on its face. JLAP’s operations are compartmentalized and totally discrete.
Most important, all contact with JLAP is confidential as a matter of law pursuant to La. R.S. 37:221. Whether or not a person contacts JLAP for help personally or due to concerns of impairment in someone else, all contact with JLAP is both privileged and confidential and is not subject to subpoena or any other discovery mechanism. JLAP cannot disclose any information about communications unless a written authorization is provided and JLAP is instructed to disclose information about the person to a certain party. Click here for more information about La. R.S. 37:221
JLAP is a confidential full-service, comprehensive program that delivers high-quality mental health care support and services as necessary to meet industry standards for programs serving licensed professionals such as lawyers, airline pilots, nurses, and doctors. By so doing, persons coming to JLAP can confidently participate in efforts specifically designed to afford the person the opportunity to fully address any mental health issues and, if successful in so doing, objectively demonstrate through cooperation with JLAP that they are fit to practice law, that it is highly unlikely that recidivism will occur, and that they pose no risk of harm to the profession or the public.L
In addition, JLAP provides educational programs at CLE Conferences, Bar Association functions, Inns of Courts, Judicial Conferences, Law Schools and Law Firms to raise awareness about mental health challenges faced by members of the legal profession and encourage the utilization of JLAP’s services early on so as to minimize the damage done to the person, profession and the public in cases involving an impaired member of the profession. Early intervention is invaluable and literally save lives and careers.
Also, in cases deemed appropriate by JLAP, professional intervention services in substance abuse cases may be provided at no cost (a $2,500 to $5,000 value).
Bottom line: there is never any charge for JLAP’s support and facilitation of evaluations, assessments, or treatment. No matter who calls, how many times they call, or why, JLAP’s professional clinical advice is always available free of charge to members of the profession, their family members, and their staff. In addition, JLAP provides full services to law students and bar applicants.
In cases where the person requires a formal Recovery Monitoring contract with JLAP, there is a $50 per month monitoring fee to offset JLAP’s costs of providing those services. In cases of severe financial hardship, JLAP has the flexibility to defer or waive monitoring fees as necessary.
In many cases, a person who is suffering has become isolated and withdrawn. Fear and frustration run high. A sense of shame and guilt often sets in, especially for smart and accomplished professionals, because they feel as if they should have been able to think their way out of the problem or otherwise use willpower to get back on solid mental health ground.
It can also feel as if there is simply nowhere to turn for answers and help. Every avenue can seem too burdensome and onerous. A feeling of being trapped in an unhappy and miserably painful existence is a true indicator that the person needs immediate help.
But, for many people, striking out on their own to seek help from a psychiatrist or psychologist is very daunting. There is a fear of turning control of a frightening mental health concern over to a doctor. And then there is the very real fear of being diagnosed with a mental health issue. Stigmas and fear run high.
In alcoholism and addiction cases, the person’s addiction does not want help . . . ever . . . even when the person is fed up with the cycle of unhealthy alcohol or drug use. Denial and a lack of insight are very difficult barriers in these cases.
Alcoholics and addicts suffer in that the rational person wants to stop suffering from the repeated consequences of substance abuse, but their addicted brains mandate that they must concurrently find a successful way to continue to use alcohol or drugs.
This often results in repeated, failed, internal mediations within the mind of the person who wants to stop substance abuse and the addicted brain that demands to keep using substances. Halfway measures and easier and softer ways are generally not successful.
Even when reaching out for help to JLAP, people with substance abuse are often very angry in addition and very fearful of taking real action and being accurately diagnosed. Often described as akin to a situation wherein “a bird dog is caught in a fence” the person is in real trouble and needs help but will bite its rescuers and resist help while being untangled.
Even if a person has surrendered and is ready to reach out and seek help on their own, it is sometimes difficult to know how to go about selecting a mental healthcare professional. How does one get a referral to a dependable provider? Mental health issues are often uncomfortable to discuss and many people don’t feel that it is appropriate to ask friends and colleagues for references to good mental healthcare providers in the same way they might ask for ideas on selecting a good surgeon for a physiological medical issue.
In that vein, JLAP is a safe and compassionate place to discretely discuss whatever mental health issue is troubling you or a loved one and obtain specific feedback on various ways to address the issues presented, including referrals to top-notch mental health professionals who currently deliver services that meet the needs of licensed professionals.
Treatment at any given facility is only as good as it was last week and JLAP keeps abreast of recent developments so as to ensure its advice is timely. Also, JLAP only recommends providers and facilities that it has inspected personally to verify the quality of the services rendered.
To the person calling JLAP for help, know this: although you may feel isolated, you are not alone!
JLAP receives hundreds of calls each year regarding issues with depression, anxiety, compassion fatigue and burnout, alcohol and drug abuse, gambling issues, and other issues all of which occur at high rates in the stressful legal profession. Practicing law is not getting easier and no lawyer or judge is immune to developing mental health issues over time.
From the first conversation with JLAP, the person no longer has to go it alone. JLAP provides ongoing support to the person through all phases of addressing the issue(s) and into long-term recovery. In many cases, persons who have successfully addressed their mental health issues through JLAP become volunteers for JLAP and stand ready to help the next generation needing assistance.
Conversely, it is also important to know that the person calling JLAP is always free to decline further assistance from JLAP and to confidentially go their own way. If in the future the person decides to resume a relationship with JLAP, they are always welcome. One can never do anything to get on JLAP’s “bad side” and JLAP is always welcoming to the person no matter what has transpired in the past. In such cases, JLAP stands ready to provide its advice and assistance anew and meet the person where they are in the process of addressing their mental health issues.
Common scenarios that result in the person deciding to a waive confidentiality is a need to be “successfully participating” in JLAP so as to satisfy inquiries and concerns by some third party such as their employer or peers who may have a duty to report unethical conduct, the office of the Disciplinary Counsel in the wake of a disciplinary compliant or substance-related arrest, or the Louisiana Supreme Court’s Committee on Bar Admissions as to a history of substance use-related conduct that may call into question a bar applicant’s fitness to practice law.
In these types of cases, the person coming to JLAP may need to be “participating successfully” in JLAP so as to objectively demonstrate to some third party that the person has been objectively and reliably assessed, treated and monitored as is necessary to either rule out a problem or fully address the problem(s) pursuant to JLAP’s standards.
JLAP recommends and facilitates interaction with JLAP-approved clinicians, doctors and treatment providers that are skilled and experienced in treating licensed professionals and offer “professionals track” programs with proven success records in working with professionals’ programs while providing assessments and treatments that, when coupled with JLAP recovery monitoring post-treatment, result in exceptionally dependable long-term recovery rates with little chance of relapse or recidivism.
Unfortunately, the question of whether a lawyer or judge is, or has been, impaired is often more easily answered than are the questions of whether he or she is recovering from the impairment or whether the quality of that recovery is such that it will likely arrest the misconduct. In answering these questions, examination and close supervision over time is invaluable in both discerning the quality of the recovery and in providing objective assurances to any third parties that may be involved. Depending on the type of case being monitored and the needs of the participant, JLAP can provide monitoring and monitoring compliance reports to the Supreme Court, Bar Admissions, the Office of the Disciplinary Counsel, employers such a law firms, or any other interested parties that the participant desires. A well designed and implemented Recovery Monitoring Program offers an efficient and effective vehicle for this examination and close supervision.
Aside from any given participants’ potential need to objectively demonstrate sustained remission and satisfy third-party concerns, monitoring programs have been identified as therapeutically critical to long term recovery without relapse. Thus, even if the person has no external need to prove recovery to anyone else, the JLAP monitoring program is still recommended when clinically applicable and to provide the structured support that is critical to long-term success after mental health treatment for alcoholism, addiction, or other mental health issues that require long-term therapy.
To learn more about JLAP Monitoring services and whether it could personally benefit you or a colleague, please contact JLAP for more information.
The components of a JLAP Recovery Agreement in a substance use disorder case reflect the individualized discharge recommendations for the person who has just successfully completed JLAP-approved treatment. The written agreement is a template for success and long-term remission and it requires the person to follow through with all of the post-treatment recommendations of the facility. It also requires random drug and alcohol screens to support total abstinence.
Studies have shown that long-term structured recovery and formal monitoring by a professionals’ program such as JLAP for a period of five (5) years greatly increases the odds that the person will not suffer any recidivism and that recovery will be the expected outcome as opposed to relapse.
Mental Health Agreements are applicable in JLAP cases not involving substance use disorders but instead requiring that persons maintain their ongoing relationships with treating professionals, take medication as prescribed, and follow the advice of mental health care professionals so as to remain unimpaired, fit to practice, and in long term stability in the management of their mental health challenges.
JLAP’s formal monitoring support is designed to support recovery and mental health, objectively verify that the person is currently fit to practice, and that when the monitoring period is completed it is highly likely that the person will remain fit to practice thereafter.
JLAP receives direct, confidential calls from people who are in distress and want JLAP’s help. JLAP also receives calls from other people who are concerned about someone else. JLAP receives those types of confidential calls from persons such as family members, peers, law partners, judges, who have become concerned about a person’s mental health wellness and ability to practice law.
In all of these cases of confidential contact, JLAP’s response is simple: a full discussion ensues so that JLAP’s professional staff can collect all available information that is clinically relevant and would support either assisting the person directly calling JLAP or else identifying from a concerned party as to whether or not there may be a productive way to approach the person who may need help.
JLAP never requires a person concerned about someone else to become involved. It is always the person or entity’s unilateral and confidential choice to decide, after a full discussion with JLAP, whether or not they wish to be involved in any effort to reach out to the person and help facilitate JLAP’s help.
As such, there is no downside to placing a confidential call to JLAP. The person calling remains protected by confidentiality and retains full control of whether or not they ultimately decide to participate in JLAP’s efforts in the event that JLAP deems it to be in a position to reach out and approach someone who may be in trouble.
In some disciplinary cases, the person’s alleged unethical conduct appears to have emanated in whole or part from a mental health issue such as alcoholism, addiction, or depression, etc. Thus, the person in trouble is often referred by the ODC to JLAP for an independent, objective evaluation or assessment in order to determine whether or not there is an impairment issue that impacts the person’s fitness to practice law.
JLAP’s standards are designed to meet the needs of licensed professionals who are in need of demonstrating to a third party, by clear and convincing evidence, that they are fit to practice. JLAP can provide reliable and objective services to assist the person in their efforts to procure an objective and reliable diagnosis, effective treatment as is appropriate for licensed professionals who hold the public’s trust, and JLAP Monitoring to objectively demonstrate over time that impairment has been removed and the chance for recidivism is remote.
JLAP has no disciplinary or punitive function. JLAP’s standards are clinically designed and its standards provide an opportunity for the person in trouble to meet JLAP’s clinical standards and demonstrate JLAP cooperation and compliance as to addressing mental health issues.
Although JLAP compliance and participation are not applicable as a defense to charges of unethical conduct, JLAP compliance can potentially serve as a mitigating factor in cases where there has not been substantial harm to the public and the alleged unethical conduct emanated from a mental health fitness to practice issue rather than from dishonesty rooted in bad character. See Louisiana State Bar Association vs. Dumaine, 550 So. 2d 1197 (La. 1989)
Others who have no direct experience with recovery or mental health issues but are interested nonetheless in supporting the life-saving work of JLAP can help JLAP raise funding and raise awareness of mental health concerns in the profession. Please contact JLAP’s Executive Director for opportunities.