LAC Meetings

2020 LAC Meetings

Friday, May 17, 2020, Silver Bay

Friday, June 15, 2020, Cooperstown

November 2020 meeting date TBD

 

2020 LAP Spring Retreat

SAVE THE DATE

LAP ANNUAL SPRING RETREAT

MAY 15 -17, 2020

SILVER BAY (LAKE GEORGE), NY

 

Upcoming Events

November 2019

11/7           Judicial Wellness Committee Meeting, Albany

11/7           LAP Volunteer Recognition Dinner, Albany

11/8           LAC Committee Meeting, Albany

 

Intervention Video

Help Available

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or [email protected] (confidential e-mail)

Stacey Whiteley, LAP Director

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Thomas E. Schimmerling, Esq., LAC Chair

Daniella E. Keller, Esq., LAC Co-Chair

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Hon. Jonah Triebwasser, JWC Chair

Hon. Linda Poust Lopez, JWC Vice Chair

LAP Flyer

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE

The New York State Bar Association Lawyer Assistance Program (LAP) provides education and confidential assistance to lawyers, judges, law school students, and immediate family members who are affected by the problem of substance abuse, stress, depression or other mental health issues.  Its goal is to assist in the prevention, early identification and intervention of problems that can affect professional conduct and quality of life.

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 SERVICES ARE CONFIDENTIAL, VOLUNTARY, FREE AND INCLUDE:

The New York State Bar Association’s Lawyer Assistance Program provides several important services to the legal community across upstate New York (north of Westchester County). The LAP provides:

  • voluntary monitoring services for attorneys facing grievance procedures and for those that are court ordered.
  • a helpline: 800.255.0569. It is staffed during normal business hours and monitored after hours. The helpline provides general assistance and referrals for therapists, treatment, support groups, and peer support.
  • 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 wellness.
  • the home program for the Lawyer Assistance Committee, the Judicial Wellness Committee, and the local Capital District Lawyers Helping Lawyers group.

ESTABLISHING A LAWYERS HELPING LAWYERS COMMITTEE

Click HERE to learn more about establishing a Lawyers Helping Lawyers committee in your local area.

TASK FORCE ON ATTORNEY WELLNESS

The Task Force on Attorney Wellness is charged with reviewing the state’s bar application questionnaire to ensure an applicant’s history of mental health treatment will not be a deterrence to admission. The Task Force will review specific questions on the New York bar application’s character and fitness questionnaire that address an applicant’s mental health issues to determine if they comport with the nationally endorsed recommendations found in the recently issued Conference of Chief Justices’ resolution. The Task Force will issue a report with recommendations based on their findings.

Task Force Roster

Press Release: New York State Bar Association Creates Blue-Ribbon Wellness Task Force

NATIONAL TASK FORCE ON LAWYER WELL-BEING REPORT, AUGUST 2017

AWARDS

LINDA M. MCMAHON RECEIVES FRANKLIN P. GAVIN MEMORIAL AWARD

Linda M. McMahon is the recipient of the 2019 Franklin P. Gavin Memorial Award, presented by NYSBA’s Lawyer Assistance Committee.
The annual award recognizes an individual who has contributed to assisting lawyers in recovery.

CAROL LACKENBACH, ESQ. RECEIVES RAYMOND P. O’KEEFE MEMORIAL AWARD

CaroL Lackenbach, Esq. was awarded the 2019 Raymond P. O’Keefe Memorial Award (posthumously) on May 18, 2019 at the LAP Spring Retreat in Silver Bay, NY.  Daughters Beth and Sharon accepted the award on Carol’s behalf.

MODEL POLICY ADDRESSING IMPAIRMENT ISSUES

On April 10, 2010 the New York State Bar Association’s  House of Delegates and Executive Committee approved a Model Policy to assist bar associations, law firms and other legal departments in addressing impairment issues.

LAC Model Policy

NYSBA Resolution 

Committees

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.

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.

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 meets the first Wednesday of each month at NYSBA, One Elk Street in Albany.  For additional information, contact Linda McMahon [email protected] 

Confidentiality

JUDICIARY LAW SECTION 499. LAWYER ASSISTANCE COMMITTEES

Chapter 327 of the Laws of 1993
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 a 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 privileges 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.

Lawyer Assistance Program Services

LAWYER ASSISTANCE PROGRAM SERVICES

The New York State Bar Association’s Lawyer Assistance Program provides several important services to the legal community across upstate New York (north of Westchester County). The LAP provides:

  • voluntary monitoring services for attorneys facing grievance procedures and for those that are court ordered.
  • a helpline: 800.255.0569. It is staffed during normal business hours and monitored after hours. The helpline provides general assistance and referrals for therapists, treatment, support groups, and peer support.
  • 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 wellness.
  • the home program for the Lawyer Assistance Committee, the Judicial Wellness Committee, and the local Capital District Lawyers Helping Lawyers group.

Volunteer Opportunities

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES

 

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. We are currently in need of female volunteers and also volunteers that have struggled with and worked through issues around anxiety, depression, and grief.

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, 518.669.5257 or email [email protected] 

2017 LAP Volunteer Manual

Aging and Cognitive Decline

AGING AND COGNITIVE DECLINE

If you weren’t aware, in the next decade, one out of every five people will be 65 or older. All Baby Boomers will be 65 and older by 2030. Currently, more than 34% of the licensed attorneys in the United States are over 65, with this number increasing as the population ages.

With aging, there are normal changes that everyone can more or less expect to happen. Examples of normal aging changes are: experiencing forgetfulness regarding recent events or newly acquired information; taking longer to figure out new problems; having difficulty concentrating when trying to do two or more tasks at once; taking longer than usual to recall words, phrases and names; feeling a decreased desire to engage in socialization; experiencing negative reactions to changes in routines; having difficulty with hearing and vision; and occasionally misplacing familiar objects.

As we all know, there are people that experience more significant cognitive issues that may indicate more serious problems. Resources with more information about cognitive decline, dementia, ethical obligations and roles colleagues can have in helping those struggling can be found below.

Lawyers and cognitive decline: Diminished capacity may bring ethics problems for sufferers

Concerns About Cognitive Impairment and Older Lawyers

Out of Focus: Lawyers and Firms Can No Longer Ignore Dementia

NYSBA’s Law Practice Management has a number of resources to help navigate the retirement from law, for any reason: http://www.nysba.org/SellingYourPractice/

The Planning Ahead Guide is full of valuable practical information and it’s a free download: http://www.nysba.org/PlanningAheadGuide2016/

Center for Healthy Aging-Online resources and information about how to live a healthier longer life. https://www.ncoa.org/center-for-healthy-aging/

National Institute on Aging https://www.nia.nih.gov/ Provides online resources on all facets of aging.

ADHD & Neurological Conditions

ADHD & NEUROLOGICAL CONDITIONS

ADHD is a neurological disorder that affects about 5% of the United States adult population. Undiagnosed and untreated, individuals struggling with ADHD can have difficulties managing their personal and professional lives. Common issues adult ADHD sufferers experience are difficulties staying on task and staying organized, managing bills, controlling impulsive behaviors, navigating social situations, struggling with deadlines and family obligations, holding a job, and managing relationships.  Untreated ADHD may also lead to anxiety disorders, depression and/or substance use disorders.

ADHD symptoms are on a spectrum, and not all need to be present to indicate ADHD. If you or someone you care about thinks they have ADHD, a neuropsychological evaluation is recommended. There are many online tests that can act as indicators that you may have ADHD, but it is strongly recommended that you speak to your primary care physician and ask for a referral for an evaluation. With a professional diagnosis, there are numerous support services that are available to help adult ADHD individuals manage their symptoms and lives better.

Autism is another neurological disorder that affects approximately 2.8% of the adult population. 95% of these adults have a co-occurring condition such as ADHD, anxiety disorder, or depression. Autism, like ADHD, runs along a spectrum, and is referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). ASD manifests itself as the individual experiencing symptoms in one or more of the following areas: social interactions, verbal and non verbal communication, repetitive or ritualistic behaviors. Some common symptoms include difficulty understanding others’ emotions and facial expressions, difficulty in social situations, need for routine and a specific ordering of things, deep knowledge of one specific topic that often results in a monologue given to others nearby whether they’re listening or not, and difficulty expressing appropriate emotions/feelings through language or behaviors. ASD does not manifest itself the same in any two individuals, so it often is misinterpreted by others, creating social and personal problems for the individual.

Being diagnosed with a neurological condition does not prevent one from working in the legal field; while it does create some challenges, there are many benefits that come with having a mind that thinks differently when approaching the practice of law. Being aware of your differences and learning how to best manage them and use them to your advantage is a sure path to success. Below are articles about neurodiversity as well as articles written by lawyers who are themselves neurodiverse.

Articles

Lawyers with ADHD

What’s a Lawyer with ADHD to Do?

ADHD in the Real Life of a Lawyer: An Interview with Anna Levine, Esq.

Lawyers with ADD: Problem or Advantage

Understanding Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Tools to Stay on Track

Autism Spectrum Disorder in Adults

For Lawyers with Autism: The Work Often Pairs Up with Things They Do Well

I’m a Female Autistic Lawyer

Alcohol Use Disorder & Substance Use Disorders

ALCOHOL USE DISORDER & SUBSTANCE USE DISORDERS

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 three practicing lawyers reported problematic drinking patterns, which is significantly higher than studies which show 6.8% 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.

Online AUDIT (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test)

Articles

How to Help Judges in Need of Help

Two Men Met in 1935: The History of LAP

Free 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

Anxiety & Stress

ANXIETY & STRESS

Anxiety and stress are present in nearly everyone’s life. Attorneys are expected to be high functioning in the most stressful situations, never letting the pressure diminish their abilities. This continual stress and resulting anxiety creates numerous health and cognitive issues, and can result in burnout and depression. Anxiety disorder is a serious mental health concern and if your anxiety is impacting your ability to function normally, make an appointment to speak to your doctor or mental health treatment provider as soon as you can. If you are struggling with normal levels of anxiety, stress and overwhelm, below are some resources that you might find helpful. Meditation, exercise, healthy eating, being outdoors, spending time with a dear friend or relative, or deeply engaging in a favorite activity like painting or reading are practices that have been shown to help reduce overall levels of stress and bring balance back to one’s day. Incorporating these practices into your already busy schedule will take some work and habit building, but the benefits will pay off over time.

ARTICLES

Anxiety: A Slippery Slope

How Lawyers Can Avoid Burnout and Debilitating Anxiety 

Five Scientific Stress Management Tips for Anxious Attorneys

How to Manage Anxiety Before a Hearing

CLE

Stress, Alcohol and Substance Abuse in the Legal Profession

Depression & Suicide

DEPRESSION & SUICIDE

Chronic depression is a serious mental health issue and unfortunately has shown to be very prevalent in the legal field. A recent study shows that 28% of licensed attorneys are suffering from depression, which is more than 3 times higher than people employed in other professions. Nearly everyone suffers from down days, grief and loss, and sadness. Chronic depression is pervasive and longer lasting, it impacts the quality of daily life. Depression doesn’t always appear as terrible sadness or blue moods. It manifests itself in many different forms such as anxiety, general apathy, guilt, reckless behavior, hopelessness, sleep disturbances, excessive hunger or lack of appetite, lack of concentration, lack of interest in previously enjoyed hobbies, isolation, agitation, and suicidal thoughts. Depressed people usually state that they feel empty and dulled, and have given up hope or care for most things and activities that interested them previously. Often these feelings of hopelessness are overwhelming and feel permanent. A person suffering with depression may appear to be just going through the motions of daily life or may withdrawal completely. Seeking help may feel like too much to manage, but untreated depression can ruin relationships, careers, derail life plans and in some cases result in suicide. If you’re suffering from depression, it’s okay to ask for help. It’s difficult to do, but there are resources that can help you manage your condition. The LAP can  help find those resources for you in your area. 800.255.0569.  If you know someone who you think is depressed, stay in contact with them. Show up, offer to listen and to help with whatever they need. Being a support for a person suffering from depression can be frustrating. It’s difficult to not say, “Snap out of it.”  Those words do not help, but being patient, allowing the person to express what they’re feeling and letting them know you’re there for them is important.

If you’ve contemplated suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. 1-800-273-8255 The Lifeline is staffed 24/7 with caring professionals whose only job is to be there to help you. Let them help. You’re not alone.

If you’re concerned about someone’s safety because they’ve told you about their plans for suicide or have expressed similar statements, call 911. The police and a local mental health crisis team will be able to help. If you can’t take action, have questions about what to do or are not sure, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255.They will help you. See the article below regarding how to respond to a friend or colleague that talks about wanting to end their life.

ARTICLES

Stop a Suicide: Learn to Act

Depression: Supporting a Family Member or Friend

Lawyers Weigh In: Why is There a Depression Epidemic in the Profession

One Lawyer Living and Working with Depression

President’s Message: Lawyers and Depression