The Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program receives about 40 calls per month from legal professionals who could use some help. The calls come from the law student, lawyer or judge who is concerned for himself/herself, and we also receive calls from individuals who are concerned about a colleague. Some examples include:
A law student struggling with depression
A concerned daughter trying to help her aging mother
An overwhelmed judge suffering from secondary trauma
A young lawyer plagued with an eating disorder
A mother who is raising a disabled child
A father in danger of losing custody of his children
A big law firm lawyer having trouble controlling her alcohol intake
A lawyer who notices that her colleague has been missing deadlines and just doesn’t seem to be herself
These are only a few of the examples of legal professionals that the Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program helps.
What happens when you call OLAP?
If you are concerned about your own mental wellbeing, we will meet with you to conduct a full confidential substance use disorder (SUD; alcohol, prescription and illegal drugs) and mental health (MH) assessment that usually takes two to three hours.
After the assessment, our staff gives recommendations to you to help you head in a better direction. We are trying to find out what is going on (diagnosis), and what needs to be done (drug/alcohol treatment, medical evaluation, psychological/psychiatric evaluation, psychological therapy, etc.).
We encourage you to sign a Recovery Contract with us for a minimum of two years, and up to five years. The contract requires you to do whatever it takes to make positive changes in your life. For SUD, this can be inpatient or outpatient treatment, 12-Step recovery meetings, or other support groups. For MH, this can mean seeing a psychiatrist/psychologist/counselor for an evaluation, taking prescribed medications, and individual and/or group counseling.
We also require telephone contact with us, often daily early on, and then as you improve, it can be reduced to one or two times per week. Whatever the requirements, you are required to document what you are doing, by providing written verification of attendance at 12-Step/support group meetings, regular reports from therapists, etc.
We require random alcohol/drug testing to help you stop using, and if you are taking prescribed medication, we may require random testing to be sure you are taking the medication (it does not help to have a prescription to help your brain chemistry, but not take it).
While this might sound like a lot of work, you must understand that we recommend these steps so that you can get well. To be a good lawyer, you must be a healthy lawyer.
If you are concerned about another person
We are here for those of you concerned about an attorney or judge in trouble. We can also help you find the services you need to cope with the stress of dealing with a loved one or colleague in distress.
We receive calls/referrals from partners, office-sharing colleagues, judges, disciplinary counsel, certified grievance committees, admissions committees, defense counsel, spouses, children, law school administrators and professors, and the occasional client. Concerns raised include drinking, illegal and prescription drugs, internet porn, sexual compulsion disorder, gambling, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, anorexia and bulimia, adult attention deficit disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder...you name it, it affects our profession.
Unless it is obvious that our help is needed immediately (if a person is in jail, for example), we require independent corroboration. Without reliable corroboration, we open a file and wait for further information.
Where we have corroboration, we often will set up and facilitate an intervention. Sometimes we provide information to the caller on how to approach the troubled person, and that results in a call from a new client.
If you are a law student
Although not yet lawyers, law students are still a part of the legal community, and therefore the Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program provides help to law students with problems related to SUD and MH.
While law school provides a great opportunity to study the law, it can be a very stressful time due to the heavy workload, high expectations, competition, time commitment, financial 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 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.
OLAP is confidential
If you contact OLAP about yourself or about someone else, 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 or 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 admissions or disciplinary consequences prevent you from contacting us. No potential admissions or disciplinary situation will be made worse by contacting OLAP.
“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 did get sober and have been sober since March 2010.”