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
518.487.5688 (Call or text)
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
All LAP services are confidential and protected under Section 499 of the Judiciary Law as amended by Chapter 327 of the Laws of 1993.
Director, Stacey Whiteley | [email protected] | 518.487.5688
Coordinator, Kim McHargue | [email protected] | 518.487.5757
Well-Being Program Manager, Jennifer Clayton | [email protected] | 518.487.5573
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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]
The Capital District and Hudson Valley Lawyers Helping Lawyers groups have joined forces!
- Capital District & Hudson Valley | First Wednesdays at 12:30 pm (hybrid) & Third Fridays at 4:00 pm (virtual)
- 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
Ray of Hope Award presented by Capital District Lawyers Helping Lawyers at the LAP Volunteer Dinner
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
- Meditation Resource List: Introduction to Mindfulness and Meditation for Attorneys
- Meditation Resource List 2: Introduction to Mindfulness and Meditation for Attorneys
- Metta Phrases to Use During Practice
- Tara Brach: RAIN- A Practice of Radical Compassion
2021 Program Archives
SUMMER SERIES RESOURCES
Presented by Jaqueline Cara, Esq. , Kathleen P. Kettles, Esq., Robin Zimpel, Esq.
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?
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.
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.
Lawyers Helping Lawyers Groups
The Capital District Lawyers Helping Lawyers
The CDLHL has joined with the Hudson Valley LHL! The groups will meet on the first Wednesdays of each month at 12:30 pm as a hybrid meeting (virtual and in-person) and on the third Fridays of each month at 4:00 pm virtually via Zoom.
Link for first Wednesdays at 12:30 pm: Click Here
Link for third Fridays at 4:00 pm: Click Here
Co-Chairs: Thomas Nicotera, Esq. and Peter Walsh, Esq.
Questions or for more information email Stacey Whiteley, [email protected].
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.
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.
The CDLHL/HVLHL holds hybrid meetings on the first Wednesday of the month at 12:30 pm. These meetings are held at the Bar Center and over Zoom. The group also holds a virtual-only meeting on the third Friday of the month at 4:00 pm. Each meeting is structured a bit differently, but in general the meetings start with introductions, then a topical reading and open discussion.
The CD and HV LHL’s work include 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.
Membership in NYSBA is not required and there is no cost to participate. All communications are confidential.
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!
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, 518.487.5688 or email [email protected]
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. LAP support and assistance is available— call Director, Stacey Whiteley at 518.487.5688. Additional information can be found below.
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.
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.
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 Director at 518.487.5688
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.