Lawyers experience problematic drinking, drug use, depression and anxiety at rates higher than the general population (link to Hazeldon article). There are several potential reasons for this including stressful and complex caseloads, long hours, handling high stakes issues, Type-A personalities, and unrelenting perfectionism.
As a result many lawyers engage in a prolonged and silent struggle with alcoholism, addiction, anxiety and depression, among other issues. As many as one in four lawyers are affected. This means it is highly likely that you, an associate, partner, or one of your best lawyer friends is currently struggling or will encounter one of these issues.
These conditions are highly treatable, especially in the early stages. Asking for help, however, runs counter to our legal training and instincts. Most lawyers enter the profession to help others and believe they themselves should not need help.
The good news is that all it takes is a phone call. The LAP works exclusively with lawyers and has been a trusted resource for lawyers in overcoming these conditions.
The NCBA Lawyer Assistance Program provides free, confidential assistance to attorneys who are struggling with alcohol and/or substance abuse, depression, anxiety, burnout, anger management, other compulsive addictions (such as food, gambling or sex), grief and loss, and assistance in closing a law practice.
LAP provides short-term counseling and crisis management, intervention, assessments, referrals to outside resources (such as therapists and treatment centers), follow up and on-going support, or just a safe space to discuss your issues. Helping attorneys recognize problems in the early stages before these problems become debilitating or cause a lawyer to commit an ethical violation is a primary goal of the LAP. We encourage you to call before these problems become out of control.
The LAP is comprised of a Director who is a licensed mental health provider and lawyer volunteers who have recovered from these very same issues and who assist lawyers who are just beginning their own journey of recovery.
Many volunteers and clients report that peer support is one of the most important tools for a lawyer who is struggling with any issue. Just knowing you are not alone and that others have struggled with the same issue and emerged stronger on the other side can offer meaning and a renewed sense of hope as one begins the journey of recovery.
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HELP IS AVAILABLE, PLEASE REACH OUT! If you are struggling or know of an attorney who is struggling:
- Call the LAP Helpline 888-408-6222
- Call LAP Director 516-512-2618
- Email LAP@nassaubar.org