The LAP is here to help, if you are a lawyer in need of assistance call the LAP Helpline: 800.255.0569

The New York State, NYC and Nassau County Bar Associations’ Lawyer Assistance Programs are here to help you. Our offices offer support services to lawyers, judges, law students and their families who need assistance navigating every day emotional health struggles, substance use disorders, and more challenging mental health issues. Give one of our offices a call to begin the discussion and find the help you need. All communications are confidential and services are free.

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 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.


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

Assistant, Sharmin Woodall | [email protected] |518.487.5686

Women’s Support Group

The Women’s Support Group will be meeting on the following Tuesdays at 5:30 pm:

  • October 12 & 26
  • November 9 & 23
  • December 14

Please use this link to join the Group:

The Lawyer Assistance Program and the Women in Law Section is pleased to be supporting a facilitated Women’s Support Group taking place on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month, beginning at 5:30 (NEW TIME). The Group will be 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 and participation by attendees are encouraged to ensure the conversation centers on topics that those involved are seeking to explore. Looking forward to seeing you then. Questions? Email Stacey Whiteley, LAP Director at [email protected]

Support Group Resources

Worksheet

Recommended Reading

Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life

By Henry Cloud and John Townsend

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

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

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/97987217906

Link for third Wednesday: https://nysba.zoom.us/j/91051431309

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.