Consumer Bankruptcy Journal Spring 2017 - Page 23

WHY ARE LAWYERS SO AFRAID the same as a client seeking legal advice . It is confidential . Lawyers who convince themselves that it is not , are often using that as an excuse not to seek help . I can tell you that Lawyers Assistance Programs value their confidentiality with lawyers , and will not even disclose information to the Bar without the lawyer ’ s consent . The only way I ’ ve ever learned of a lawyer participating in a Lawyer Assistance Program is because the lawyer made that disclosure to me .

What can the professional as a whole do to lessen the stigma and dispel myths surrounding reaching out of help ( as an example , what could law firms be doing better to support lawyers or the LAP ’ s getting the word down to solos that they even exist )
Much of the stigma is based on the lack of discussion amongst lawyers . Partners and associates will meet to discuss cases and clients and billable hours , but the topic of “ is everything okay ” is not part of the agenda . I think every law office , private , governmental , corporate , should set aside time to discuss issues of alcohol and drug use . Firms should make it clear that seeking help prior to any issue affecting the practice is going to be met with assistance , and not discipline . Bar Associations , and State Bars should be sending that same message to lawyers who are sole practitioners or in small firms . The fear of disclosure often leads to disaster for the individual lawyer , and the firm . When that fear is dissolved , we will have a healthier and therefore more productive Bar .
There you have it . The true reality is that addiction recovery is not part of the legal culture despite the fact that according to recent studies , problematic drinking clearly is . A recovery culture needs to be integrated from the top down . How do we begin this ? Start simple . How difficult is it to bring the local LAP into your firm with a presentation a couple times a year ? How difficult is it to bring a lawyer in recovery in to talk about the reality ? Do it in place of that law firm happy hour . How difficult is it for local bar associations , especially for young lawyers to pair events with something other than wine tastings and happy hours ? Maybe even a recovery event now and then ? Time well spent . Culture changes one person at a time .

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National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys Spring 2017 CONSUMER BANKRUPTCY JOURNAL 23