WE ARE YOUR

CONFIDENTIAL RESOURCE

 

The Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program is here for YOU…

We have no duty to report.  No one will ever know you called.

We are your safe place to turn when life gets overwhelming.

Whether it’s an addiction, depression, anxiety, stress or

any other mental health concern.  Just give us a call…

There is light at the end of the dark tunnel…

Don’t go through this alone.

                             WE ARE HERE TO HELP YOU

Your Confidentiality is Protected

If you contact OLAP about yourself or about an attorney colleague, you can rest assured that your call and anything you discuss with OLAP will be protected by strong rules of confidentiality:

Prof. Cond. Rule 8.3 provides an exemption from the duty to report knowledge of ethical violations when that knowledge was obtained in the course of OLAP's work.

Code of Judicial Conduct Rule 2.14 provides that information obtained by a member or agent of a bar of judicial association shall be privileged.

R.C. § 2305.28 provides qualified immunity from civil liability for OLAP staff (B and C) and for anyone who provides information to OLAP (D).

If you or someone you know is having problems with substance abuse, alcohol abuse, addiction or mental health, don't let fears about the disciplinary consequences prevent you from contacting us.  No potential disciplinary situation will be made worse by contacting OLAP.

Our Mission

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

How we started

 

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.

Law Students:

 

We work with law students all over the state of Ohio

Although not yet lawyers, law students are still a part of the legal community, and therefore the Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program is here to provide help to law students with problems related to substance abuse, drug addiction, and mental health problems such as stress, anxiety, and depression. 

While law school provides a great opportunity to study the legal profession, it can be a very stressful time due to the heavy workload, high expectations, competition, time commitment, student debt, and competition for landing the right job. 

Maintaining a balance between your workload and social life can be a challenging but necessary task to help avoid many of the pitfalls associated with law school, such as drinking too much to avoid stress, depression and anxiety.  While moderate levels of stress can have a positive impact on performance, excessive and prolonged stress can negatively impact not only your schoolwork, but also your social relationships. 


The Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program is a safe place to turn for confidential assistance.

Lawrence Krieger, Clinical Professor of Law at Florida State University, emphasizes that law students should recognize the most significant and potentially harmful demands, then eliminate those demands that you can, and moderate your response to those that are unavoidable. By identifying your core values and focusing on achievable goals like doing your best and learning as much as you can, you can achieve a sense of balance. 

Taking care of yourself, your health and well-being is the best way to manage law school stress, but if you do have problems, the responsible thing to do is to get help. The Ohio Lawyer's Assistance Program is a safe place to turn for confidential assistance.

 

Ohio Judges:

   When alcohol rules judges...

 

Judges, often held to a higher standard, must face difficult decisions about getting help and revealing their problem.

Being a judge can be an extremely isolating position.  Judges arbitrate, advise, and administer justice in the court. There must be no conflict of interest or outside interest in their decisions. A judge with a known active addiction is a liability to the courts.

But sometimes judges get caught up in addiction, be it alcohol or harder substances. If you are a judge, we will maintain your anonymity so you can get the treatment without losing your career. 

By ANITA KUMAR

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 27, 2001

Judges, often held to a higher standard, must face difficult decisions about getting help and revealing their problem.

Two decades ago, Judge Joseph Murphy's life began to unravel. His wife threatened to leave him. He stopped seeing family. He was late to hearings. Murphy, now a labor judge in Tampa, finally realized it was because of his drinking. 

 

Judge Patrick Snyder's problem hit him in 1987 the day he was giving a speech to colleagues in Wisconsin. Standing before them, he made jokes and small talk, but never got around to his topic. A fellow judge took a sip from his soda can, discovered liquor and confronted him.  Both men sought help, then started speaking publicly about their struggles to help fellow judges.

"I lived in remorse and guilt," Murphy said. "But help was available to me. And help is available for other lawyers and judges."  The two men realized their shared addiction in vastly different ways, but the problems they and other judges across the nation face are similar.

Treatment is available, even some specifically for the legal profession. Still, judges not only must struggle with staying sober but also face crucial decisions about how much personal information to reveal, how to deal with public reaction and how to salvage their careers.

Such challenges may lie ahead for two longtime members of the Tampa Bay judiciary who have come face-to-face with their own drinking problems after public allegations of bizarre or violent behavior.  Charles Cope, the top family judge in Pinellas and Pasco counties, was charged in California with peeping and prowling -- his second run-in with the law while police say he was under the influence. David Patterson, who retired in July as chief judge of the area's appellate court, was accused of making violent threats to his wife while drinking heavily.

Studies show that alcoholism affects 10 to 12 percent of the general population. Though no definite percentage exists for judges, some studies put it at 15 to 20 percent for the legal profession.  "Alcoholics are not always back alley drunks," said Ronald Hunsicker, president of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers.

Experts in alcoholism say judges are susceptible because they tend to be overachievers, can easily defend or rationalize their actions and are reluctant to seek help because they usually solve other people's problems. They have high-profile jobs in an environment where drinking is often accepted and where people protect each other, they say.  "It's partly related to high stress combined with a predisposition, personality traits indicative of addictive diseases," said Judith Rushlow, assistant director of Florida Lawyers Assistance, a non-profit group that helps lawyers and judges with addictions. "It's a whole picture that we've come to see."

From members of Congress to the city council, elected officials have had to cope with personal problems overlapping their public lives. But it's more difficult for judges who control the fate of people's lives, deciding everything from who goes to jail to who gets the kids.  "Judges are held to a higher standard," said Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, a non-profit group outside Washington, D.C. that examines ethics in government. "They sit in judgment and the public expects more from them."


    

   A common concern:

Though the public may hear only occasionally about a judge having a drinking problem, studies show that excessive drinking is a prevalent concern for the legal profession.  A North Carolina study reported that almost 17 percent of lawyers and judges admitted to drinking three to five alcoholic beverages daily. A Washington, D.C., study revealed lawyers have a high likelihood of developing alcohol-related problems.  Those numbers don't include those who have drug problems or suffer from other addictions, such as gambling, or from depression.

In Florida, the legal profession's problem with alcohol became so pronounced that lawyers formed an informal support group two decades ago. Its founder, Charlie Hagan, said the group has helped 8,000 people since its creation.  "When they have no where else to go, they can go there," Hagan said.  That group became part of the lawyers assistance program, which is now coordinated by the American Bar Association and is available in virtually every state. In Florida, the program is mostly funded by the Florida Bar and helps monitor lawyers for the bar.  Rushlow said most of the 200 people Florida Lawyers Assistance serves at any one time are lawyers, though a few are judges. Judges sometimes have the perception they can't fraternize with lawyers who may later show up in their courtroom, she said.

"They have the notion that it is not right to go to groups with lawyers," she said. "We are trying to convince them that's not true.'  Sometimes, troubled lawyers and judges call the group themselves. Other times, someone else reports them and a volunteer approaches them about their suspected drinking problem.  "I think that at some level, it should be confronted and brought to the surface," Rushlow said. "An active alcoholic really doesn't make a good lawyer."

Revealing the truth:

In many cases, judges' alcohol problems come to light after an arrest, accident or other public episode.  Louisiana appellate judge Oswald Decuir was charged with driving while intoxicated in 1999 after he was found asleep behind the wheel of his car at an intersection. Robert Bradley, a superior court judge in California, had a slew of alcohol-related arrests before being removed from the bench. Scott Kenney, a circuit judge in Indian River County, was accused last month of being intoxicated while trying cases.  After his arrest, Cope entered inpatient alcohol treatment. Patterson took a leave from the court 18 months ago for inpatient treatment, and was hospitalized for several days under the Baker Act after his wife's recent allegations.

Public humiliations usually prompt judges to seek treatment to prove they are getting help. But after they return, they will have to make decisions about how much to reveal to the public.

What responsibility do they have, if any, to tell people about their treatment, the extent of their dependency and how they balanced their jobs and drinking?  Experts in both ethics and alcoholism generally agree judges need to talk about personal problems, even those as sensitive as addiction, if they affect -- or the public thinks they affect -- their job.  "They need to assure people," Rushlow said. "They shouldn't pretend it didn't happen. Everybody already knows what happened."  But that doesn't mean they have to reveal every excruciating detail, those in the recovery community say. Sometimes basic education is all that's needed, particularly since anonymity is a key to treatment.  "They need to talk about it even if they don't want to," Boehm said. "But it can be the same way you would deal with questions about open heart surgery. You need to provide general education about the disease."

Experts who have studied judges with alcohol problems say that when deciding how much to reveal, judges must realize the public might try to challenge decisions the judges made before they sought help.  "You can always raise the issue," said Emily Baker, an ethics professor at St. Petersburg College and a former judge. "You can always bring it up, but you have to have a real legal reason."  Officials with the Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court where Cope serves and the 2nd District Court of Appeal, where Patterson was the chief judge, said they do not expect lawyers to appeal the judges' rulings now that their drinking problems have become public.  And, they said, it would be a mistake if they did.

"People will say whatever they want to," said John Blue, chief judge of the 2nd District Court of Appeal. "All I can tell you is they would be wrong."  That doesn't mean it won't happen. Sometimes, people will insist on doing just that.  "You see what you want to see," said Robert Krauss senior assistant attorney general who reviews all criminal cases in front of the 2nd District, where Patterson was chief judge. "Sometimes, it's just sour grapes."

- Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Anita Kumar can be reached at 727-893-8472 or at kumar@sptimes.com.© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times.

All rights reserved    

Attorneys:

 

Lawyers struggle with the fact that they need help themselves.  "What if someone found out I need help," many attorneys may say to themselves.  Attorneys experience problematic drinking that is hazardous, harmful, or otherwise generally consistent with alcohol use disorders at a rate much higher than other populations. The average U.S. population has a rate of alcoholism of 10%.  The legal profession has the highest rates of alcoholism and addiction at over 20%. These levels of problematic drinking have a strong association with both personal and professional characteristics, most notably sex, age, years in practice, position within firm, and work environment. Depression, anxiety, and stress are also significant problems for this population. The data reported here contribute to the fund of knowledge related to behavioral health concerns among practicing attorneys and serve to inform investments in lawyer assistance programs and an increase in the availability of attorney-specific treatment. Greater education aimed at prevention is also indicated, along with public awareness campaigns within the profession designed to overcome the pervasive stigma surrounding substance use disorders and mental health concerns. The confidential nature of lawyer-assistance programs should be more widely publicized in an effort to overcome the privacy concerns that may create barriers between struggling attorneys and the help they need.

ABA, Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation release first national study on attorney substance use, mental health concerns

 

Feb. 3, 2016 - A new, landmark study conducted by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs reveals substantial and widespread levels of problem drinking and other behavioral health problems in the U.S. legal profession.

Posted online this week in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, the study reports that 21 percent of licensed, employed attorneys qualify as problem drinkers, 28 percent struggle with some level of depression and 19 percent demonstrate symptoms of anxiety. The study found that younger attorneys in the first 10 years of practice exhibit the highest incidence of these problems. The print edition of the journal will be available in mid-February.

The findings of the national study, the most comprehensive ever, represent a reversal of previous research that indicated rates of problem drinking increased as individuals spent more time in the legal profession. When focusing solely on the volume and frequency of alcohol consumed, more than 1 in 3 practicing attorneys are problem drinkers, the study found.  Attorney and clinician Patrick R. Krill, Hazelden's architect of the project and lead author of the study, said the findings are a call to action.  

"This long-overdue study clearly validates the widely held but empirically under supported view that our profession faces truly significant challenges related to attorney well-being," Krill said. "Any way you look at it, this data is very alarming, and paints the picture of an unsustainable professional culture that's harming too many people. Attorney impairment poses risks to the struggling individuals themselves and to our communities, government, economy and society. The stakes are too high for inaction."
 
Linda Albert, a co-author of the study and representative of the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs, said there are countless ways this data will benefit the profession. "While the numbers themselves are disheartening, the instructive value of the information is enormous and tells us that the problem is best approached from a systems perspective. All sectors of the profession will benefit from reading, understanding and utilizing this important study, and now we can better develop strategies for preventing and addressing substance use problems and mental health concerns in this population."  The study compared attorneys with other professionals, including doctors, and determined that lawyers experience alcohol use disorders at a far higher rate than other professional populations, as well as mental health distress that is more significant. The study also found that the most common barriers for attorneys to seek help were fear of others finding out and general concerns about confidentiality.

"This new research demonstrates how the pressures felt by many lawyers manifest in health risks," ABA President Paulette Brown said. "These ground-breaking findings provide an important guide as the ABA commission works with lawyer assistance programs nationally to address the mental health risks and needs of lawyers."
   
The collaborative research project marks the first nationwide attempt to capture such data about the legal profession. Approximately 15,000 attorneys from 19 states and across all regions of the country participated in the study.

 

 

The Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program is here for YOU…

We have no duty to report. 

No one will ever know you called.

We are your safe place to turn.

when life gets overwhelming.

Whether it’s an addiction, depression, anxiety,

stress or any other mental health concern.

Just give us a call…

There is light at the end of the dark tunnel…

Don’t go through this alone.

We are here to help you.