Judges experience the same problems that other lawyers experience- depression, anxiety, alcohol and prescription drug misuse, cognitive decline, compassion fatigue and burn-out. As a judge, these problems are more unlikely to go unnoticed and untreated because of the very role judges undertake in the judicial system. Judges often work in isolation which can shield problems that would otherwise be noticed in a legal environment full of day-to-day interactions with supervisors, colleagues and staff. If issues are noticed, lawyers and staff are intimidated at the prospect of talking with a judge about it. Lawyers often fear retaliation from a judge suffering from a likely impairment. Moreover, judges are placed in high esteem in the judicial system. the fear is that if impairment issues are known, this will have a negative impact on status and reputation. Just like lawyers, judges also may be in denial, feel embarrassed or even hopeless. NHLAP is here to provide free, confidential help.
From the bench, judges are in the best position to see problems of impairment or competency of the lawyers appearing before them. Judges can be reluctant to initiate intervention for fear of derailing a legal career unnecessarily. Judges can make a confidential call to NHLAP to request intervention based upon what they have observed. This discussion is completely confidential, and the source of the concern is never disclosed to the lawyer in question.
Judges who need assistance because of alcohol or drug misuse, depression, anxiety or other mental health issue can call a confidential help line solely for judges. This helpline is sponsored by the American Bar Association and serves as a resource for judges throughout the US and Canada. This helpline also connects judges with judges that have gone through recovery for peer-to-peer support. 1-800-219-6474
Under NH Supreme Court Rule 58 the confidentiality of all client interaction, including judges, with NHLAP is guaranteed. Any information disclosed to anyone in NHLAP- the employees, the volunteers, the referrals- will never be disclosed unless there is express authority of the client to do so. Further, NH Administrative Rule 37(e) creates an attorney-client privilege for all information disclosed to NHLAP. If help sought indicates a violation of the NH Rules of Professional Conduct, NHLAP cannot disclose that information to the discipline authority.
There is no reason to wait. If you feel that something in your life is interfering with your ability to be the best judge you can be, whether it be alcohol, prescription drugs, depression, anxiety, grief, aging, work- life imbalance, or burnout call NHLAP. We are here to help.
NHLAP Helpline: 1-877-224-6060