Substance Abuse And The Other Bar

Substance Abuse And The Other Bar

Substance Abuse And The Other Bar

Working long hours and dealing with the difficult challenges posed by their clients’ legal matters is a source of overwhelming stress for many attorneys. Some lawyers deal with this better than other lawyers, while, unfortunately, many attorneys turn to alcohol and drugs to help them cope, which may create more problems than it solves. In 2020, there are many programs and agencies to which attorneys may seek help. The Other Bar is one such resource.

The California State Bar takes substance abuse very seriously as evidenced by the fact that attorneys must include substance abuse education in the twenty-five hours of continuing legal education (MCLE) required by the State Bar every three years.

The Other Bar (the “OB”) is a private, non-profit corporation that serves more than 600 lawyers each year. The OB includes a network of recovering lawyers, law students, and judges, dedicated to assisting members of the legal profession who are suffering from problems with alcohol and substance abuse. Its network consists of over 30 peer support meetings throughout California, with most groups meeting weekly. The Other Bar differs from traditional alcohol treatment programs as the only forum that allows lawyers to work on problematic issues directly related to practicing law.

The program is voluntary and open to all California lawyers, judges, and law students. In recognition of this sensitive area involving a person’s livelihood and other personal struggles, the Other Bar provides its services in strict confidentiality based on anonymity, one of its founding principles. Unlike the State Bar Lawyer Assistance Program, the Other Bar requires no fees for participation.

The Other Bar typically acts as a bridge to a community’s available recovery options. It even provides MCLE programs, both live and online, specifically addressing substance abuse issues and recovery. The OB welcomes all participating, recovering lawyers, judges, and law students regardless of their recovery model. The Other Bar assists legal professionals at all stages of recovery and is, uniquely, the only recovery network that helps attorneys over the course of their entire lives at any time of need.

While California’s Alternative Discipline Program (ADP) assists attorneys who are coping with substance abuse or mental health problems, the result may be the initiation of formal disciplinary proceedings in the State Bar Court, which could result in reproval, suspension or disbarment of the attorney, thus compounding his or her personal problems. The Other Bar has no connection to or relationship with the State Bar of California’s disciplinary system. Many participants in the OB program have not experienced any disciplinary reprimands in any way from the State Bar.

The following contains some guidance for attorneys trying to recover from substance abuse:

Rules of Recovery

  • Don’t analyze
  • Don’t judge
  • Don’t compare
  • Don’t blame
  • Don’t justify


These “rules of recovery” pertain directly to the cognitive defense system that addicts use when they feel threatened. When applied to lawyers, the rules are even more revealing since attorneys are trained to analyze, to judge, to compare, to assign blame, and to justify.

Attorneys, judges, and law students may reach the Other Bar at (1-800-222-0767) to speak with one of their professional consultants who can immediately respond with recovery assistance and referrals.

A primary focus of the California Desert Trial Academy (CDTA) is the inclusion of all students in every phase and aspect of our learning platform and social environment. The competitiveness of law school can have a negative effect on some students, but some see it as survival of the fittest. The CDTA prefers to look at every interaction between students as a positive learning opportunity for all students. The CDTA College of Law trains, educates, and develops students to be exceptional attorneys and trial advocates. Call us today at (760) 342-0900 or find out more online here.

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