Impaired Lawyer - Impaired Practice

Instructor: Cynthia Sharp
Minimum - 60 minutes
Maximum - 120 minutes

Nearly one in five attorneys will personally develop a substance abuse problem of some type. The adverse effects of alcoholism and addiction extend not only to the afflicted attorney and his or her family but also to colleagues, clients and the profession at large. Those attending this highly informative session will learn to identify the warning signs of the disease and will be introduced to positive intervention approaches.

Topics covered include:

I. Overview of Substance Abuse

  • Outline of the various categories of addiction (including alcoholism, illegal drugs, prescription drugs, gambling and sex)
  • Discussion of the destructive impact to mental and physical health, relationships, careers, the legal profession and society
  • Recognizing impairment - The Basic Clues

II. Malpractice and Ethical Issues

  • Duties of law firms and attorneys with respect to an impaired partner or associate
  • Relevance of RPC 5.1 and RPC 5.3
  • Steps to take if a problem is suspected and/or confirmed
  • Common ethics violations related to alcoholism and addiction

III. Availability of Assistance

Those suffering from alcoholism and other addictions can remain in denial for years (especially if the person is high functioning). Even once a problem is admitted, other obstacles to seeking help may exist. First, many attorneys are ultra self reliant. They are accustomed to helping clients and countless others but may not be able to ask for or even accept help for their own problems - especially when it comes to mental health issues. The stigma of alcoholism and drug addiction also can become a barrier to seeking treatment. In addition, it is possible that the person needing help (as well as his or her family or colleagues) may not be aware of the resources that exist. This portion of the program will focus on the types of available treatment resources including the Lawyer’s Assistance Program.