List Of Resources For Lawyers With Substance Abuse Problems
Attorneys greatly differ in how they deal with stress. Some can deal with the serious responsibilities involved in representing clients while others instead turn to alcohol and drugs to cope with maintaining a law practice. Attorneys can never have enough resources to help them deal with problems related to substance abuse. In recognition of this area of great concern, California requires that attorneys must include substance abuse education in the twenty-five hours of continuing legal education required by the State Bar every three years.
California’s Alternative Discipline Program (ADP) also assists attorneys with substance abuse or mental health problems. However, the result may be the initiation of formal disciplinary proceedings in the State Bar Court. This may result in reproval, suspension, or disbarment of the attorney. Unfortunately, this process may offer little or nothing in finding a solution to the attorney’s substance abuse.
A study conducted by Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and the American Bar Association Commission (ABA) on Lawyer Assistance Programs found that:
- More than 1 in 3 practicing attorneys are problem drinkers
- 40–70 percent of all disciplinary proceedings and malpractice actions involve substance abuse
- Lawyers experience alcohol use disorders at a far higher rate than other professionals, including doctors
- 21 percent of licensed, employed attorneys are problem drinkers
- Younger attorneys in the first 10 years of practice exhibit the highest rates of depression, anxiety, and alcohol abuse.
The following are just a few of the resources available to assist attorneys.
*California State Bar Lawyer Assistance Program (LAP)
The California State Bar LAP helps lawyers, State Bar applicants, and law students who are dealing with stress, anxiety, depression, substance use issues, or concerns about their career. Licensed California attorneys can receive a free professional mental health assessment and an opportunity to participate in the Lawyer Assistance Program without making a longer-term commitment.
*The Other Bar
The Other Bar (the “OB”) is a valuable resource for helping lawyers with issues involving substance abuse. The Other Bar is a private, non-profit corporation that assists over 600 lawyers annually. The OB features a network of recovering lawyers, law students, and judges, committed to helping members of the legal profession who suffer from alcohol and substance abuse. This network consists of over 30 peer support meetings in California that meet weekly with some exceptions. All meetings are now available to attend via Zoom and strict confidentiality is observed. The Other Bar differs from traditional alcohol treatment programs as the only forum that allows lawyers to work on problematic issues that are directly related to practicing law. If you are a law student, attorney or bench officer who is struggling with substance abuse, please contact The Other Bar Representative Greg Dorst at 626-222-6299.
*ABA Voices of Recovery Podcast Series
This series from the American Bar Association is about overcoming substance use disorders, mental health issues, and addiction. The featured attorneys tell their story with the purpose of it helping to reduce the stigma associated with these issues and encourage other members of the legal profession to seek the help that they need. Currently, ten episodes are available.
*California Lawyers’ Association (CLA)
The CLA is a nonprofit, voluntary organization and the home base of the Sections of the State Bar of California and the California Young Lawyers Association. The CLA features “Wellness Wednesday” a monthly event focused on lawyers’ health and wellness.
*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
This study is the first multi-school study in over twenty years to address law student use of alcohol and street drugs. It is the first-ever multi-school study to explore prescription drug use. It is also the first study of law students’ mental health concerns and attitudes related to seeking help for such issues. The results of the study indicate that approximately one-quarter to one-third of respondents reported frequent binge drinking or misuse of drugs, and/or reported having challenges related to mental health. Moreover, the results indicated that significant majorities of those law students who need help most are reluctant to seek it.
The path to becoming an effective attorney-advocate leads to the California Desert Trial Academy. CDTA prides itself on assisting and advocating for those struggling with substance abuse issues. We have student and alumni representatives who are available to speak with an applicant who may be dealing with substance use disorder. Please contact Kelli McDowell at 760-342-0900 or find out more online here.