Member Groups

Mental Health Matters
The newsletter of the ISBA’s Mental Health Law Section

March 2016, vol. 2, no. 2

Letter from the Chair

Think of your own or your colleague’s mental health.

As you well know, the legal profession at times can be both stressful and challenging. This is reflected in the sad fact that lawyers are three times more likely than the general population to suffer from depression. This naturally impacts a person’s capacity to practice our profession. The warning signs for an impaired attorney include attendance issues (missed deadlines or lateness), personal problems, financial issues, performance problems and health issues. At least 25% of those facing a disciplinary charge have an underlying mental illness and/or substance abuse problem. Depression, in fact, is the most frequently reported problem to the Lawyer’s Assistance Program.1

A resource to face this is the Lawyer’s Assistance Program (LAP), which helps lawyers, judges and law students get assistance with substance abuse, addiction and mental health problems. Founded in 1980, LAP provides resources, support and intervention tools to help yourself or a colleague who is in trouble. For further information please visit the LAP website at www.illinoislap.org.

If you weren’t able to attend in person, I also recommend you view our February CLE program, What’s New in Mental Health Law? at which Christine Anderson, Director of Probation and Lawyer Deferral Services of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, spoke about this very issue, providing detailed information about the applicable rules of professional conduct that cover this situation.

Remember, it is never too early or too late to address this common problem.

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1. LAP’s Annual Report: www.Illinoislap.org