Lawyer Assistance Programs reach out to law schools

October 6, 2010
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This blog post was written by IL reporter Rebecca Berfanger.

The ABA conference of the Commission of Lawyers Assistance Programs, or CoLAP, is taking place this week at the Hyatt in downtown Indianapolis. Having covered this issue since I started working here in 2006, I had been invited to attend the conference and will be doing a follow up article for the issue of Indiana Lawyer that comes out next week.

One of the panels that caught my attention on today’s schedule was “Resources for Law Student Wellness.” The panel included experts on the issue: the president of the Valparaiso University School of Law Student Bar Association who is active with the ABA Law Student Division, someone from the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program, someone from the Montana Lawyer Assistance Program, an assistant dean of the University of Minnesota Law School, and someone from the Minnesota State Bar Association Life and the Law Committee.

The panelists discussed various ways the law schools and LAPs in their states have been tackling the various issues students face, including how to address some of the myths when it comes to getting help for mental health or substance abuse problems while in law school, and how it can affect one’s character and fitness results when they apply to join the bar after they graduate. The presence of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have also contributed to the proliferation of some myths for law students who seek help.

Panelists and audience members discussed various ways they reach out to students, whether it’s a tough-love approach, with a mandatory session for all students as part of orientation or professional responsibility courses; or to offer voluntary programs that students can attend if they want to learn more about LAPs and what they will need to know when its time for their state’s Board of Law Examiners to determine if their character and fitness are up to par to practice law.

An audience member from the Nebraska Lawyers Assistance Program said that his organization, with permission from the Minnesota LAP, recreated a brochure “Are you fit to be a lawyer?” to give to students early on in their law school careers. This way, he said, students that truly aren’t fit to be lawyers will know before they spend three years in school, graduate facing $100,000 or more in debt, and are unable to pass the bar because they’re simply not fit to be lawyers. But if they figure this out and get help early on, they have a chance.

The brochure, which panelists agreed was a good idea and something that could also be given to students through the school year or could be made available where students could easily find it, includes information about the character and fitness requirement; conduct that may be cause for concern; the importance of honest disclosure; how the bar authorities will look at past behavior; how alcohol, substance abuse, and mental health can affect one’s practice; how conditional admission works; and resources for more information to get help.

The conference participant from Nebraska LAP said after giving a talk at a law school that included the brochure, he received five calls within two days of the talk.

Terry Harrell, the executive director of Indiana Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program, spoke with me after the panel and said lawyers are better off if they face their issues as law students. Otherwise, the problem doesn’t go away, it just gets worse.

After the session, she introduced me to Mike Stewart, a representative of program exhibitor Bradford Health Services, who told me about a scholarship program for 30-day rehabilitation treatment available to law students. LAPs around the country are aware of the program and can help students apply for the scholarship. The only thing the student would need to pay for is transportation. So far, only one student in the country has taken advantage of this scholarship, but Harrell and Stewart said they know there is more than one student who could take advantage of this program, and hope others will.

The conference lasts through Friday, and there are some spots available for various events. More information about registration and events for the program are available on CoLAP’s website.

Did you learn about LAP as part of your law school experience? If not, do you wish you had? And if so, do you think it helped you or your fellow students? Do you think all students can benefit from learning what can and can’t hurt them when they apply for the bar even if it’s two or three years down the road?
 

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  • JLAP and political agenda
    It is unfortunate that JLAP is being sued for allowing itself to be used as a political tool. Any conservatives dealing with JLAP are taking a very big risk.

    See www.archangelinstitute.org for details

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  1. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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