Lawyers


Attorney #1 Colleagues notice that lawyer comes to work smelling of alcohol. He appears tired and is often not as prepared as he used to be. The firm fears malpractice liability. Doesn’t know how to approach this topic with him.
Alcohol Misuse
 
Attorney #2 Dreads email and phone calls from clients. Is tired of hearing the terrible stories of their lives and feels they don’t listen to her advice in how to make things better. She didn’t go to law school for this.
Burn-Out/Compassion Fatigue
 
Attorney #3 Feels overwhelmed and dreads going into work. The office environment is toxic and doesn’t have a mentor to confide in about his negative experience as a lawyer. Feels trapped because of large student loan debt and other financial obligations. Doesn’t know where to turn.
Anxiety/Depression
 
Attorney #4 Judge notes that this lawyer is not as sharp as she once was while before the bench. She forgets facts easily and often appears confused in the middle of arguments or bench conferences. Judge fears that this attorney is missing details relevant to her legal theory and is not serving her client well. Judge is not clear who to contact to intervene.
Cognitive Decline
 
What these stories all have in common is that each lawyer found help through the New Hampshire Lawyers Assistance Program.
 
Lawyers are often reluctant to come forward and ask for help. Sometimes it is because they fear it will derail their career. Sometimes it is because they fear the stigma that may be attached to them from other members of the bar; that they will appear weak or even incompetent. Sometimes it is because they don’t even recognize that what is happening is real depression or anxiety because they have never experienced it before. Most often, it is a combination of all these reasons. The best way to deal with these issues before they become a problem that impairs legal competency, personal relationships or barriers to professional success is to get support. NHLAP has been helping lawyers free of charge since 2007. We identify problematic issues and make referrals to the appropriate resources. All services from a simple discussion on the phone, to peer volunteers, to referral to counseling or support services are
100% completely confidential. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it signals the strength. Self- awareness and self-care are hallmarks of a successful, healthy lawyer.
 
You are not alone. Recent comprehensive studies indicate lawyers have the highest rates of alcohol and drug misuse, depression, anxiety and suicide of any other profession in the United States. The American Bar Association has deemed law “a profession in crises” and has rolled out both model rules and a specific tool book to help change the culture which fosters these debilitating issues. Identifying these issues and treating them is both doable and successful. Lawyers can create a healthy balance in which personal relationships, healthy stress management and job satisfaction is a reality.

Lawyers are particularly concerned about confidentiality. Under NH Supreme Court Rule 58 the confidentiality of all client interaction 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 lawyer 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