Congratulations to the New York State Bar Association’s Lawyer Assistance Program for 30 years of providing lifesaving services to the legal profession throughout New York State. Thank you to all of the volunteers and to the staff over the years (especially LAP Program Assistant Linda McMahon who has been with the program since its beginning) for their hard work and selfless dedication to the mission of the LAP. We are looking forward to the good works the LAP will provide over the next 30 years!

The Bar Journal highlights the LAP’s Anniversary with a special featured article:

30 Years of the LAP: Countless Lives Saved and Careers Resurrected

More information regarding the history of NYSBA’s LAP can be found here:

Two Men Met in 1935-AND A RECOVERY PROGRAM WAS BORN


The NY State, NYC and Nassau County Bar Associations Lawyer Assistance Programs are here to help you through these challenging times. Our offices may be closed but we are working to help lawyers, judges, law students and their families cope with the myriad of ways that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed ther lives. We are offering confidential services and peer support online and on the phone. If you or a loved one are suffering from a mental health, alcohol or substance use problem, it is essential to get support. You can find COVID-19 information and updates on our websites along with tips for coping and managing stress, optimizing your home office productivity and dealing with fear regarding your health and the health of family members. Please see below for details on how to contact your local LAP by phone, email or text. 

New York State Bar Association’s
Lawyer Assistance Program
Stacey Whiteley, Director
518.360.2352
[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, 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 helpline: 800.255.0569. The helpline provides general assistance for callers 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 well-being.
  • the home program for NYSBA’s Lawyer Assistance Committee, the Judicial Wellness Committee, and the local Capital District Lawyers Helping Lawyers group.
  • co-sponsors the weekly Lawyer to Lawyers Well-Being Roundtable. Held Thursdays at 4 pm via Zoom.
  • Curates a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/nysbalap/
  • 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 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 Staff

Director, Stacey Whiteley | [email protected] | 518.360.2352

Program Assistant, Linda McMahon | [email protected] | 518.487.5684

 

2020 Virtual Fall Series

NYSBA LAP and Nassau County Bar Association LAP are co-sponsoring a Fall Series of free one hour informational programming covering well-being concerns and recovery topics. Registration for all programs is open now and open to all in the legal profession.

October 29 @ 6:00 pm Understanding and Reducing Stigma Surrounding Mental Health and Addiction with Jaqueline Cara, Esq., Joe Milowic, Esq., and Heather Casale, Esq. To register and receive the program link email Beth Eckhardt, Nassau Co LAP Director: [email protected]

November 5 @ 12:30 pm Healthy Body, Health Mind with Dr. Benjamin Carlow, chiropractor and personal trainer. To register and receive the program link email Beth Eckhardt, Nassau Co LAP Director: [email protected]

November 12 @ 6:00 pm Leading a Meaningful Life with Libby Coreno, Esq., Co-Chair of the Lawyer Well-Being Task Force To register and receive the program link email Beth Eckhardt, Nassau Co LAP Director: [email protected]

November 19 @ 6:00 pm Strategies to Recognize and Manage Burn Out with Dr. Kerry O’Hara, clinical psychologist. To register and receive the program link email Beth Eckhardt, Nassau Co LAP Director: [email protected]


 

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.

  • Capital District | First and Third Wednesdays at 12:30 pm | For meeting link e-mail Linda McMahon at [email protected]
  • Hudson Valley | Second and Fourth Fridays at 4:00 pm | For meeting link e-mail Stacey Whiteley at [email protected]
  • Erie County | Thursdays at 5:30 pm | For meeting link e-mail Linda McMahon at [email protected]
  • Nassau County | Wednesdays at 12:30 pm | For meeting link e-mail Henry Kruman at [email protected]
  • Suffolk County | Wednesdays at 6:00 pm | For meeting link e-mail Elaine T. at [email protected]
  • New York City  | Thursdays at 6:30 pm | For meeting link e-mail Ralph W. at [email protected]

 Lawyer to Lawyer Well-Being Roundtable

Join other lawyers, law students and judges from across the state in a free and confidential online support group being held weekly on Thursdays at 4pm via Zoom. The group will be facilitated by Libby Coreno, Chair of the Attorney Wellbeing Committee and Kerry O’Hara, PsyD. Each group session will be loosely organized under a theme for discussion. All participants will be given the opportunity to share if they wish, with supportive discussion to follow.

Thursdays at 4:00 pm

Email Stacey Whiteley at [email protected] for the link and the week’s theme for discussion.

 

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.

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: Thomas E. Schimmerling, Esq. and Daniella E. Keller, 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. Jonah Triebwasser
Vice Chair: Hon Linda Poust Lopez

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 weekly on Wednesdays at 12:30 pm via Zoom. Please contact Linda McMahon [email protected] for the meeting link.

 

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, 518.360.2352 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 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

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


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


Other Resources

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.