In the summer of 1979, a group of recovering alcoholic lawyers and judges met in the chambers of then Franklin County Common Pleas Judge J. Craig Wright in Columbus. This statewide group of professionals, who had gotten sober and were remaining so by supporting each other and attending 12-Step meetings, formed the Ohio State Bar Association's Lawyers Assistance Committee (LAC). Among the dozen or so attending was William X. Haase, retired from Arter & Hadden in Cleveland, who became OLAP's first Executive Director.
The LAC members decided that something needed to be done to address the increasing number of lawyers and judges whose alcoholism was ruining their practices and their lives (a lawyer with a drinking problem and disciplinary problems generally was disbarred). They created a volunteer network of recovering professionals who, when told of a lawyer/judge in trouble, would go and talk to the person, encouraging him/her to seek professional help, etc.
As the number of lawyers seeking help increased, and the Ohio Supreme Court began to change the disciplinary and admissions rules to take "recovery" into account, it became necessary to move from an all volunteer organization to a professionally staffed one.
In 1991 the OSBA/LAC incorporated Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program, Inc., as an Ohio nonprofit corporation. OLAP was granted IRC 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status as a charitable educational entity by the IRS the following year. OLAP's mission is to educate the profession about substance abuse/chemical dependency and mental illness, provide advice about treatment alternatives, perform interventions, and provide support and monitor recovery.
Attorney Scott Mote got sober in January 1985, started volunteering with the LAC that fall, and became OLAP's first Associate Director in 1995, while continuing to practice law in Columbus. Haase covered the state north of about Mansfield, and Mote covered the rest. Mote took over as Executive Director when Bill Haase died in 1999. In 2002 we started working with mental health issues.
The Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program is a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to helping Ohio's judges, attorneys, and law students obtain treatment for substance abuse, chemical dependency, addiction, and mental health issues. OLAP has existed since 1991 and is active across the state of Ohio. Through OLAP, judges, attorneys, and law students receive:
Confidential advice about individual problems.
Help in arranging and implementing formal nterventions
Help in deciding between outpatient, inpatient, and other treatment programs
Monitoring and aftercare services