Addiction Intervention & recovery services for lawyers

The Idaho Lawyer Assistance Program (LAP) is set up to help and support lawyers who are experiencing problems associated with alcohol and/or drug use or mental health issues. Reports now estimate that lawyers have problems with substance abuse at rates 5% to 8% higher than the general population. Recent reports have also shown that a majority of disciplinary problems involve chemical dependency or emotional stress. The LAP program also focuses on education of legal professionals and their family and friends about the causes, effects and treatment of alcohol and drug dependency, depression and mental health problems.

The purpose of the Lawyer Assistance Program is to assist attorneys and their families in identifying alcohol, drug, or behavioural problems that pose a potential threat to that lawyer, their family, or the clients. The LAP will work to identify and facilitate acute treatment and to provide long-term support for the lawyer to return to a productive place within his/her profession. While the program provides no direct counseling, treatment, or aftercare services, it does support and endorse the development of self-help groups at the local level.

The LAP is a resource for legal professionals, their families, colleagues, and other affiliates. Disciplinary action does little to intervene in the disease process and may frequently be counterproductive to identification and professional reintegration. Treatment has proven to be effective for both the individual and society. By providing attorneys an opportunity to enter into substance abuse treatment and to recover from their diseases early in the disease process, the LAP can serve to minimize negative impacts on the professionals, patients/clients and their families and friends.

If you are concerned about:

  • your own use of alcohol or other drugs…
  • the use of alcohol or drugs by a partner or associate…
  • a fellow attorney or judge who you see is affected by the use of alcohol or other drugs…
  • your or a fellow lawyer ’s inability to handle matters due to depression…

Have you or a lawyer you care about:

  1. Failed to show up at the office or to appear in court because you had a hangover or were “a little under the weather?”
  2. Experienced deteriorating relationships with clients, staff, and friends?
  3. Frequently missed appointments with clients?
  4. Ever awakened to discover that you couldn't remember what had happened the night before?
  5. Showed up drunk at court or for a deposition?
  6. Been drinking or using drugs during office hours?
  7. Used, misused, co-mingled or borrowed clients’ trust funds?
  8. Had to have another lawyer make your court appearances for you because you were hung over?
  9. Regularly had more than one drink at lunch?
  10. Noticed that drinking is affecting your reputation?
  11. Missed deadlines, filed pleadings late, allowed a statute of limitations to run, failed to pay your Bar dues?
  12. Worried that these things are happening to you more and more frequently?
  13. Needed a drink because something good or bad happened?
  14. Gotten drunk at Bar meetings and social gatherings?

Contact the LAP for assistance

“Research repeatedly has shown that physicians generally fare much better than the general public following addiction treatment. Although accommodations may be needed (e.g., decreasing hours or eliminating night shifts), approximately 75% to 85% are able to return to work, do not use drugs, and lead a productive life. As a result, it has been suggested that this PHP treatment approach (including drug screening) should be implemented as the standard of care for all individuals with suspected addiction, not just physicians.”

Successful Treatment of Physicians With Addictions Psychiatric Times. Vol. 26 No. 9 August 28, 2009

Five Year Outcomes of Physicians With Addictions BMJ 2008;337:a2038

Services Provided by Southworth Associates for the LAP Program:

  • Confidential Consultation available 24 hours a day.
  • Interventions
  • Assessment
  • Referrals
  • Education and Research
  • Assistance in ascertaining lawyers who will volunteer time as temporary replacements while in treatment.

Special thanks to ALPS (attorney Liability Protection Society) for providing a grant to support the Idaho LAP Program.

Visit the Idaho State Bar Association
Visit the American Bar Association
Visit Attorney Liability Protection Society