Young Lawyer

HELP FOR
NEW LAWYERS

As a new lawyer, you will be stressed. There will likely be times when you will deal with difficult clients, colleagues and opposing counsel. You will work long hours. You might have to sacrifice your time and determine what is most important. You will need to manage your time wisely. You will probably miss some family events or time with your friends. At times, you will feel burned out and taken advantage of. You will wonder if you chose the right career. This probably all sounds harsh, but it is the reality of being a member of the legal profession. Because being a lawyer is a demanding job, you might be faced with challenges that affect your well-being, such as substance use disorder or mental health issues.

 

Substance use disorder

A substance use disorder is a mental disorder that affects a person's brain and behavior, leading to a person's inability to control their use of substances such as legal or illegal drugs, alcohol, or medications. Symptoms can range from moderate to severe, with addiction being the most severe form of SUDs. (https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/substance-use-and-mental-health)

 

Mental illness

Mental illness, also called mental health disorders, refers to a wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior. Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mental-illness/symptoms-causes/syc-20374968

 

All members of the legal profession are at risk of developing substance use disorders and/or mental health issues, but younger lawyers are the segment of the profession most at risk. It is important for the sake of your well-being and for your clients that you take action immediately if you have any of the signs and/or symptoms of these mental disorders.

 

Signs/symptoms of mental health and substance use disorders:
 

FAMILY PROBLEMS

  • Withdrawal from activities

  • Frequent absences

  • Frequent arguments; child/spousal abuse

  • Family members display codependent behaviors

  • Children engage in abnormal, antisocial, or illegal activities

  • Sexual problems (impotence, affair)

  • Separation/ divorce (initiated by spouse)

PHYSICAL PROBLEMS

  • Multiple complaints

  • Increased use of prescription medication

  • Increased hospitalizations

  • Frequent visits to physicians, dentists

  • Personal hygiene, dress deterioration

  • Accidents, trauma, ER visits

  • Serious emotional crisis

SOCIAL PROBLEMS

  • Decrease in community affairs

  • Change of friends, acquaintances

  • Drunk & disorderly, DUI arrests

  • Loss of confidence in attorney by community leaders

  • Involvement with place of worship changes

  • Sexual promiscuity

  • Isolation from support systems

PROFESSIONAL PROBLEMS

  • Inappropriate behavior, moods

  • Decreasing quality of performance

  • Inappropriate pleadings, decisions

  • Co-workers and staff "gossip" about changes in behavior

  • Malpractice and disciplinary claims

  • Missed hearings, appointments, depositions

Loss of clients, practice, respect

OFFICE PROBLEMS

  • Hostile behavior to staff and/or clients

  • "Locked door" syndrome (using it at work)

  • Borrowing money from co-workers, staff

  • Frequently sick

  • Clients begin to complain to associates, staff

  • Frequent unexplained absence

  • Disorganized appointment schedule

Contact the Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program to learn more

(800) 348-4343

bendslow@ohiolap.org

www.ohiolap.org

1650 Lake Shore Drive, Suite 375, Columbus, OH 43204

Self-tests

You can also review these self-tests to learn more and to see if you recognize any of the signs of mental health and/or substance use disorder.

 

How to get help

The Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program, Inc., is a confidential, private Ohio non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation dedicated to helping Ohio lawyers, judges, and law students obtain treatment for substance use disorders and mental health issues. OLAP started in 1991 and is active across the state of Ohio.​

 

If you are concerned about your mental health or a substance use disorder, such as drinking, OLAP will meet with you to provide confidential assistance. We have assisted more than 3,400 law students, lawyers and judges, and helped them save their careers, families, etc. We help with depression, anxiety, mental health disorders, burnout, substance use disorders (drinking, street and prescription drugs), gambling disorders, and more. Once you complete an assessment with an OLAP clinician, we will: ​

  • Give you a list of recommendations to help you move in a better direction, such as confidential advice about individual problems, including finding counseling and help deciding between outpatient, inpatient, and other treatment programs

  • Help arrange and implement formal interventions, if necessary

  • Provide you with reputable resources for counseling services, treatment and support groups

  • Arrange for monitoring services

 

OLAP is confidential

If you contact OLAP, you can rest assured that your call and anything you discuss with OLAP will be protected by strong rules of confidentiality. We are 100% confidential.

Professional Conduct 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 a like exemption when we are working with judges.

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 have problems with substance use, alcohol, 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.

 

Substance use and/or mental health disorders do not violate the rules of professional conduct and are not necessarily ethical violations. If left unchecked, though, drinking/drugs/mental health issues may lead a lawyer to commit an ethical violation. The Disciplinary Counsel of the Supreme Court and grievance committees only prosecute violations of the rules of professional conduct and seeks to prevent lawyers who may be impaired from harming the public. There is no reason not to seek help.

 

(800) 348-4343

bendslow@ohiolap.org

www.ohiolap.org

 

OLAP Headquarters

1650 Lake Shore Drive, Suite 375 

Columbus, OH 43204

 

OLAP helps legal professionals in all areas in Ohio. Our main headquarters is in Columbus, but we have associates in Cleveland and Cincinnati. We also travel around the state to meet your needs.

TESTIMONIALS

“If I could offer advice to any lawyer or law student, young or old, I would tell them not to be ashamed of feeling the way I did (serious depression/ suicidal), and not to be afraid to ask for help. Mental health issues do not fix themselves.”

“OLAP opened the door and helped me with some of the denial I was dealing with. When I came to OLAP, the detailed assessment I was required to take made me see the progression of my disease of alcoholism. After my assessment, OLAP gave me a recommendation to attend an out-patient treatment facility, go to 90 12-step meetings in 90 days, and call in on a daily basis for a year. This helped me gain a sense of accountability. I have been sober for 10 years.”

"Because OLAP is confidential, they did not have to disclose my depression to my employer, which eased my stress level about what my employer would do if they found out I was ill with depression."