I spoke to 150 terrific trial lawyers at the Litigation Counsel of America (LCA) conference in Santa Barbara on “Substance Abuse in the Legal Profession,” and I was overwhelmed by the attendees’ response. They simply could not wrap their heads around the enormous extent of the profession’s problem identified in the ABA/Hazelden-Betty Ford Foundation’s (HBBF) 2016 study.
Truly, the numbers are staggering — 21% of practicing lawyers have a drinking problem. Even worse, 32% of lawyers in the first ten years of practice have a problem. Those are devastating statistics.
Think about that — ONE THIRD of your associates have a problem with alcohol.
And that was BEFORE the Covid pandemic, which, studies show, has significantly increased everyone’s levels of stress, anxiety, depression, etc.
As a profession, we must address this issue, it’s simply not humane or sustainable to sit by and do nothing.
Information and education is an important first step. Develop a plan to help your people who need it. Assure them complete confidentiality. Let me know if I can offer a presentation to your firm, to provide the data to start the conversation.
At least ten states have changed their ethics rules to require Mental Health or Substance Abuse CLE. Most states are expected to add that requirement as well, following the ABA’s recommended changes to the Model Rules, to help get help to those who need it.
For more information, the gold standard in addiction treatment is the Hazelden-Betty Ford Foundation (HBBF).
And view the HBBF “Well-Being Template for Legal Employers”.