The LAP is here to help, if you are a lawyer, judge or law student in need of assistance regarding a mental health or substance use issue call the confidential NYSBA LAP Hotline: (877) 772-8835

The Hotline is available 24/7 and is staffed with trained mental health professionals. If you are struggling with an emotional crisis, a substance use issue, or a mental health challenge that is preventing you from being at your best, give the Hotline a call for immediate assistance and to access additional resources to help you. For NYSBA members who call the Hotline, we are now offering four no-cost sessions per year with a therapist in our network. Hotline staff will work with you to find the best match for your needs and provide you with a referral.

If you are a lawyer, judge or law student seeking information about peer support, support groups, monitoring or LAP programming, call the LAP office in your area. You can find that information below.

All communication with LAP and the LAP Hotline is fully confidential.

Don’t let another day go by suffering in silence, reach out to the LAP, we can help.

New York State Bar Association’s
Lawyer Assistance Program
Stacey Whiteley, Director
518.360.2352 (Call or text)
[email protected]

Nassau County Bar Association’s
Lawyer Assistance Program
Beth Eckhardt, LCSW, PhD, Director
516.512.2618    Cell/Text
[email protected]
Website

NYC Bar Association’s
Lawyer Assistance Program
Eileen Travis, Executive Director
212.302.5787
[email protected]
Website


The New York State Bar Association’s Lawyer Assistance Program provides several important services to the legal community across New York State. NYSBA’s LAP provides:

  • voluntary monitoring services for attorneys facing grievance procedures and for those that are court ordered.
  • a Hotline: 877.772.8835. Staffed 24/7 the Hotline can provide immediate assistance to callers struggling with mental health or substance use issues. For NYSBA members, four no-cost sessions with a therapist are offered.
  • CLE and educational speakers, materials, and resources that can be incorporated into existing programming or as presented as stand alone programming.
  • peer support from experienced volunteers.
  • materials and assistance to local bars and groups wishing to start up local Lawyers Helping Lawyers groups.
  • outreach to local and specialty bars, legal organization, firms, law schools, and legal organizations on topics such as substance use, mental health and attorney well-being.
  • the home program for NYSBA’s Lawyer Assistance Committee, Judicial Wellness Committee, Committee on Attorney Well-Being, and for the Capital District and Hudson Valley Lawyers Helping Lawyer support group.
  • participates on task forces and working groups researching and developing reports and recommendations.
  • collaborative opportunities with other LAP Directors in New York to address the needs of New York’s legal community.
  • articles, information and content for NYSBA publications and other media outlets.

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE

The Lawyer Assistance Committee (LAC) is charged with the duty, in collaboration with the New York Bar Association Lawyer Assistance Program (LAP), of assisting attorneys, judges and law students dealing with alcoholism or substance abuse and other addictive disorders. LAC will also assist those dealing with such issues as stress, depression, problem gambling, vicarious trauma, and other mental health issues where appropriate. In addition, the LAC is charged with the duty of formulating policies which will support its primary purpose. The LAC shall encourage and assist local bar associations in the development of education and outreach programs designed to facilitate the identification and rehabilitation of attorneys, judges and law students afflicted with these problems. In appropriate instances, as directed by the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court, LAC shall provide assistance to that court, to the extent possible along with the NYSBA LAP, in the monitoring, supervision and rehabilitation of attorneys with such conditions.


LAWYER ASSISTANCE PUBLIC SERVICE VIDEOS

It Was Me

Ours is a Troubled Profession

Life Defining Loss


CONFIDENTIALITY

All LAP services are confidential and protected under Section 499 of the Judiciary Law as amended by Chapter 327 of the Laws of 1993.


LAP Staff

Director, Stacey Whiteley | [email protected] | 518.360.2352

Coordinator, Kim McHargue | [email protected] | 518.360.5757

Lawyer Assistance Program

The Lawyer Assistance Program Hotline

Call: (877) 772-8835

The LAP Hotline is a free confidential service provided to members who are seeking assistance with challenges such as depression, anxiety, burnout, alcohol or drug related concerns, and other mental health issues. When a caller contacts the hotline, a trained mental health professional answers the call and provides immediate support. For NYSBA members, a referral to a professional counselor will be provided. The caller can receive up to four free counseling sessions a year. All communications with the LAP Hotline staff are strictly confidential.

Phone Number: 877-772-8835

What to Expect When You Call:

  1. Your call will be answered by a trained counselor, day or night. You will be asked for basic information such as your name and birth date and where in the state you are calling from. All information provided is kept strictly confidential.
  2. The counselor will ask you to discuss what has prompted your call to the Hotline. You can disclose as much or as little as you wish. Remember, it is a confidential call. They will use this opportunity to talk through the matter with you and recommend resources such as calling your local LAP for support group information or taking advantage of the four no-cost counseling sessions. If you want to be connected with counseling services, you will be asked for your NYSBA membership ID # to verify your eligibility. Note-If you call after regular business hours, you will receive a call back within 24 business hours with a referral to a counselor.
  3. If, after you meet with the counselor you were referred to, you don’t find it to be a good fit, you can call back the Hotline and request a different counselor for your remaining sessions. NYSBA members are eligible for four no-cost sessions per year.

The Lawyer Assistance Program Hotline is a free and completely confidential service provided by NYSBA and supported by the New York Bar Foundation.

Women’s Support Group

The Women’s Support Group takes place on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month at 7:00 pm.

Join us for an open discussion in a safe and supportive group. There’s always something to learn and ways to grow.

The Lawyer Assistance Program and the Women in Law Section is pleased to be supporting the Women’s Support Group taking place on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month, beginning at 7:00 pm. The Group is facilitated by Susan Klemme, LMSW and will meet via Zoom. The confidential group will be a place of connection and community, support and safety for women in the profession, from law school through retirement. It is open to anyone who identifies as female and wishes to connect with others to discuss issues relative to their experiences as a woman in the profession. Discussion center around a relevant topic each week. Even so, participants are encouraged to bring issues that are affecting them for exploration and discussion. Questions? Email Stacey Whiteley, LAP Director at [email protected]

2022 Spring Retreat

The LAP Spring Retreat is back in-person and is taking place May 11-15 at the beautiful Silver Bay Resort on Lake George.

Join your colleagues for a weekend long immersion into recovery sessions, well-being activities, and conversation and support in a gorgeous setting on the shores of Lake George.

Learn more (PDF)

Online Lawyers Helping Lawyers Meetings

Open to all in the legal profession from student to retiree who are in recovery or seeking assistance with substance use disorder issues or emotional or mental health challenges. Meetings are confidential and protected under Section 499 of the Judiciary Law. Contact LAP Director Stacey Whiteley for links to any of the following meetings. [email protected]

  • Capital District | First and Third Wednesdays at 12:30 pm
  • Hudson Valley | Second and Fourth Fridays at 4:00
  • Erie County | Thursdays at 5:30 pm
  • Nassau County | Wednesdays at 12:30 pm
  • Suffolk County | Wednesdays at 6:00 pm
  • New York City  | Thursdays at 6:30 pm

2022 Program Archives

MINDFULNESS AND MEDITATION FOR WELL-BEING

Enjoy this four-part introductory series on mindfulness and meditation with instructor Ann Lapinski. The sessions build upon each other, so to get the most of the series, watch them in order. Each session includes instruction, breath work, meditation, and discussion.

March 7: https://vimeo.com/685902635

March 14 https://vimeo.com/688059273

March 21: https://vimeo.com/690609565

March 28: https://vimeo.com/693242416

Program Materials:

2021 Program Archives

SUMMER SERIES RESOURCES

July 6: Women’s Perspectives on Recovery and the Legal Profession

Presented by Jaqueline Cara, Esq. , Kathleen P. Kettles, Esq., Robin Zimpel, Esq.

August 24: Breathing Techniques for Attorneys- How to Lower Your Stress & Improve Your Practice

Presented by Heather D. Casale, Esq., eRYT  And the poem Heather read is here: My brain and heart divorced

2020 Program Archives

FALL SERIES RESOURCES

September 17: Depression and Suicide Prevention in the Legal Profession with Dan Lukasik, Esq., Judicial Wellness Coordinator for OCA. Program materials are here.

October 1: My Early Recovery and Step Work with Tom Schimmerling, Esq., Lawyer Assistance Committee Co-Chair.

October 8: Taking Care of Your Mental Health While in Law School with Albany Law School’s Associate Dean for Student Affairs Rosemary Queenan; Professor Joseph Connors, Albany Law School; Dr. John Conners, Psychiatrist, College Mental Health Care; Sarah Dixon-Morgan, Colby Fellow with Albany Law School’s Wellness Initiative.

December 17: Lawyers in Transition: Shared Experiences with Erin Flynn, Esq., Chair of Lawyers in Transition Committee; Neva Strom, Esq.; Katherine O’Keefe, Esq. Disregard the error message that pops up on the link. Click play and the program will begin.

SUMMER SERIES RESOURCES

Summer Series Session June 16 2020  Freedom From the Bondage of Self: Steps 4 – 7 Part 1
Presented by Chuck B. and Dave P.  Introduction by Stacey Whiteley, LAP Director

Summer Series Session June 30 2020 Freedom From the Bondage of Self: Steps 4 – 7 Part 2
Presented by Chuck B. and Dave P.
[Please note, due to a recording error, this recording begins a bit abruptly while Dave P. is talking, there is no introduction.]

Summer Series Session July 14 2020 Helping Others: Volunteering with the Lawyer Assistance Program
Presented by Stacey Whiteley, LAP Director

Summer Series Session July 28,2021 Practicing Law While in Recovery
Presented by Thomas Schimmerling, Esq.

Summer Series Session August 11, 2020 Self-Care for Lawyers in Recovery
Presented by Eileen Travis, Executive Director NYC LAP and Gary Reing, Esq.

Summer Series Session August 25, 2020 Reducing Stigma in the Workplace
Presented by Dan Lukasik, Esq. and Jackie Cara, Esq.
View Handout: Managing Depression
View Handout: How Can I Help Reduce the Stigma?

Lawyer Assistance Committee

The Lawyer Assistance Committee (LAC) is charged with the duty, in collaboration with the New York Bar Association Lawyer Assistance Program (LAP), of assisting attorneys, judges and law students dealing with alcoholism or substance abuse and other addictive disorders.

Co-Chairs: Daniella E. Keller, Esq. and David E. Gutowksi, Esq.

Judicial Wellness Committee

The Judicial Wellness Committee seeks to foster a sense of community and care among the New York State Judiciary and to provide confidential assistance to impaired judges.

Chair: Hon. Linda Poust Lopez || Vice-Chair: Hon. Patrick J. O’Sullivan

Committee on Attorney Well-Being

The Committee on Attorney Well-Being is tasked with the development and implementation of well-being programs and initiatives for all New York attorneys and law students, the state-wide coordination and advancement of well-being programs and resources for bar associations, the judicial system and employers, and the encouragement of a “culture change” in which the stigma and other barrier to participation in well-being programs are lowered.

Co-Chairs: Hon. Karen K. Peters and M. Elizabeth “Libby” Coreno, Esq.

Capital District Lawyers Helping Lawyers Committee (CDLHL)

The mission of the Capital District Lawyers Helping Lawyers Committee is to give confidential assistance to lawyers, judges, law students, and other members of the legal profession struggling with alcoholism, substance abuse and dependence, other addictions, depression, and mental health problems that threaten or impair professional and personal life.  The Committee has two goals: To give the bench and bar a better understanding of these conditions through appropriate education and dialogue, and to give colleagues in recovery hope and confidence through example.  Services offered to members of the legal profession and their families include: outreach, education, prevention, consultation, intervention, referral, peer support, and mentoring. The CDLHL is now meeting virtually on the first and third Wednesdays of the month at 12:30 pm. Please contact Stacey Whiteley at [email protected] for the Zoom links.

Lawyers Helping Lawyers Groups

The Capital District Lawyers Helping Lawyers
The CDLHL meets on the first and third Wednesdays of each month at 12:30 pm via Zoom.

Link for first Wednesday: https://nysba.zoom.us/j/95159204070

Link for third Wednesday: https://nysba.zoom.us/j/92761880946

Co-Chairs: Joseph Conners, Esq. and Thomas Nicotera, Esq.

Questions or for more information email Stacey Whiteley, [email protected].

CDLHL Background

The CDLHL began in May 2007 as a local group of lawyers in recovery wanting to provide help for other lawyers struggling with alcohol and substance use issues. The scope of the CDLHL expanded over the years to include lawyers, law students and judges who are struggling with mental health issues both large and small such as anxiety, grief, gambling disorder, depression, and anger management. The CDLHL welcomes anyone in the profession who is having difficulties in their personal or professional lives to join us for connection and support.

The CDLHL is a peer led support group that is supported by the New York State Bar Association’s Lawyer Assistance Program (NYSBA LAP). Although not an official standing committee of NYSBA, the CDLHL is recognized as a NYSBA affiliated group and receives staff support, has an online community, and has access to NYSBA’s Bar Center and resources for its meetings and events. There are no dues associated with involvement with the CDLHL, and NYSBA membership, while encouraged, is not required.

Mission

The mission of the Capital District Lawyers Helping Lawyers Committee is to give confidential assistance to lawyers, judges, law students, and other members of the legal profession struggling with alcoholism, substance abuse and dependence, other addictions, depression, and mental health problems that threaten or impair professional and personal life.  Within the statewide Lawyer Assistance Program of the New York State Bar Association, the Committee has two goals: To give the bench and bar a better understanding of these conditions through appropriate education and dialogue, and to give colleagues in recovery hope and confidence through our example.  The services we offer to members of the legal profession and their families include outreach, education, prevention, consultation, intervention, referral, peer support, and mentoring.

Meetings

Prior to COVID-19, the CDLHL met on the first Wednesday of each month. Recognizing the need for additional support during the pandemic, the CDLHL began regularly meeting twice a month over Zoom. The virtual meetings take place on the first Wednesday and third Wednesday of each month at 12:30 pm and run for one hour. The first meeting is a business meeting, while the other is a support meeting. Each meeting begins with a topic discussion suggested by a member. The CDLHL’s work includes outreach to local bar associations, providing public service announcements for CLE programming, developing educational programming, planning the annual dinner and volunteering with the LAP as peer support, monitors, and program speakers.

Events

Each May, the CDLHL hosts a celebratory birthday lunch during its regular meeting sponsored by the LAP. Members, current and past, attend this annual event. This event has been put on hold for 2020 and 2021 due to COVID restrictions.

Each November, the CDLHL hosts a volunteer dinner and awards the “Ray of Hope” award to an outstanding volunteer. The dinner is always well attended and a wonderful celebration to thank all those who have volunteered and participated in the CDLHL. This event was not held in 2020 due to restrictions, but November 2021 is looking good for its return!

Confidentiality

The CDLHL, as a recognized group under the LAP and its associated Lawyer Assistance Committee, is protected under Judiciary Law Section 499 which states:

1. Confidential information privileged.  The confidential relations and communications between a member or authorized agent of a lawyer assistance committee sponsored by a state or local bar association and any person, firm or corporation communicating with such committee, its members or authorized agents shall be deemed to be privileged on the same basis as those provided by law between attorney and client.  Such privilege may be waived only by the person, firm or corporation which has furnished information to the committee.

2. Immunity from liability.  Any person, firm or corporation in good faith providing information to, or in any other way participating in the affairs of, any of the committees referred to in subdivision one of this section shall be immune from civil liability that might otherwise result by reason of such conduct.  For the purpose of any proceeding, the good faith of any such person, firm or corporation shall be presumed.

This allows for an open dialogue between members of the CDLHL and with LAP staff and with any other individuals who are acting as an authorized agent of the LAC without concern of disclosure.

VOLUNTEERS ARE NEEDED THROUGHOUT NEW YORK! 

Volunteers are an integral component of  the statewide Lawyer Assistance efforts. Peer support has proven time and time again to be a vital component to the improvement in the condition of an attorney that is struggling. Having that connection to another attorney is a secure point for many who feel alone and have no other supports in place. Volunteers share their experiences and time, providing the struggling attorney with friendship, advice, and support. Volunteers connect with attorneys in person and over the phone, through text and email. Whatever method works best for the volunteer and the attorney is the best method for the connection. It cannot be stressed enough how important volunteers are to the program, they are the lifeblood of the LAP. The volunteer training manual is below, please read through it and contact the LAP for more information.

In addition to providing peer assistance and support to their colleagues, volunteers can serve as speakers who help educate the legal profession about stress, depression, addiction and other mental health issues.

For additional information on how to become a LAP volunteer, call Stacey Whiteley, 518.360.2352 or email [email protected] 

LAP Volunteer Manual

Alcohol use disorder is the most common substance use disorder in the United States, affecting nearly three million people annually. Up to 40% of all hospital beds in the US are being used to treat health conditions related to alcohol. There are an average of six deaths every day due to alcohol overdoses. These statistics are shocking, but for those in the legal field, the statistics around alcohol use disorder are even more concerning. In a recent study, one in five practicing lawyers reported problematic drinking patterns, which is significantly higher than studies which show 6.4% of Americans exhibited signs of alcohol use disorder.* There are many suggested reasons for the high rate of alcohol issues with those in the law, but the fact remains, alcohol use disorder is a big problem for the profession. There is help. The LAP can help you or your colleague come to terms with the problem and seek the professional help needed. If you’re concerned about your own drinking and want to take proactive steps before the disorder grows-because alcohol use disorder is a progressive disease, there are many in-person and online resources and supports available. These are listed below.

If you’re not sure if your alcohol use is really a problem in your life, there are several online tests available to help you figure that out. There is a link to one listed below. Alcohol is an addictive substance, no matter how little or how much you drink, its impact on your body is designed to increase your desire to consume more.

Substance use disorders, encompassing drugs such as opioids, benzodiazepines (benzos), stimulants, and even marijuana (THC) are not as highly reported in the legal field as alcohol use disorder, but they are still prevalent and can destroy a lawyer’s career, personal relationships, health and can take their life. Substance use disorders are treatable and help is available. Resources can be accessed by calling the LAP 800.255.0569. Additional information can be found below.

ABA/Hazelden Betty Ford 2016 Study: The Prevalence of Substance Use and Other Mental Health Concerns Among American Attorneys

Online AUDIT (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test)

Cannabis Use Disorder Identification Test


Articles

We Need More Optimists in the Profession

Becoming an Alcoholic in Private-Living in Recovery in Public

Never Alone: Addiction, Recovery and Community

How to Help Judges in Need of Help

Two Men Met in 1935: The History of LAP


CLE Programs

Attorney Wellness/Substance Abuse in the Legal Profession

Lawyer Assistance Program

Stress, Alcohol and Substance Abuse in the Legal Profession

Lawyer Assistance/Alcohol and Substance Abuse in the Legal Profession

The Elephant in the Room: The Legal Profession, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse


Other Resources

Voices in Recovery: an ABA and CoLAP Podcast series exploring substance use and mental health recovery through interviews with members of the profession

Lawyer Assistance Committee members present a mock intervention.

Online AUDIT (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test)

NYC LAP serving NYC and Westchester: 212.302.5787

Nassau County LAP: 888.408.6222

Online AA Meeting guide

SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)

National Helpline: 800.662.HELP (4357)

The LAP is proud to be a part of the larger mission of the New York State Bar Association in providing support, resources and information designed to enhance the well-being of New York attorneys, law students and judiciary. Please click on the link below to view NYSBA’s Attorney Well-Being page.

Self-Assessments

Please note: the assessments below do not provide a medical diagnosis; they are offered as a tool to help the user determine if seeking a professional evaluation is warranted. If you have questions about the tools or your results, call the LAP helpline at 800.255.0569.

Online AUDIT: Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test

Drug Screening Questionnaire (DAST)

Depression Self-Assessment

Gambling Self-Assessment (BBGS)

Burnout Inventory (Oldenburg Burnout Inventory)

ADHD Screener

Some of the assessment links will bring you to a non-NYSBA affiliated website. NYSBA does not endorse these sites or their organizations. You are not required to enter any personal information to utilize the assessments.