Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 16

Lawyers are supposed to be so competent,
charged, knowledgeable, and together.
Some people don't think those things can
be consistent with someone who also has a
substance abuse or mental health problem.
MONIQUE FORTENBERRY
D.C. Bar Lawyer Assistance Committee Volunteer

The LAP evolved from efforts in 1981 by the Bar's Board of Governors to develop
and implement a program to assist members of the Bar suffering from alcohol
abuse. The Board established the Special Committee on Alcohol Abuse, which
sponsored the Assistance Program for Alcoholism Among Lawyers, Inc., a D.C.
nonprofit corporation.
In 1985 the Board of Governors approved the creation of a Bar program that
would serve a broader clientele to include judges and law students, giving birth
to the Lawyer Counseling Program and the Lawyer Counseling Committee. In
2007 the names were changed to the Lawyer Assistance Program and the
Lawyer Assistance Committee.
Today, recognizing the need to address well-being issues in the legal profession,
lawyer assistance programs are present in almost every state, as well as in
Canada and the United Kingdom. Law firms nationwide have stepped up to
create wellness initiatives and to offer mental health resources for their lawyers
and staff.

Prior to losing her friend, Fortenberry, currently deputy executive director at
the Federal Trade Commission, had attended one of the LAP's brown-bag
lunches that dealt with work-related stress. "Later, after my friend took her life,
it was in the back of my mind to go to the LAP, which was an amazing resource,"
she says.
LAP services are strictly confidential under the law and include short-term
counseling, evaluation, and referrals. The LAP offers evaluations for individuals
experiencing symptoms of mood disorders, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic
stress disorder (PTSD), or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The
program provides counseling and referrals for those wrestling with substance
use disorders, as well as gambling and sex addictions. "Really any issue that is or
could be causing distress or interfering with someone's productivity or wellbeing could and should be brought to the LAP. It is staffed by licensed clinical
social workers with many years of experience helping lawyers be mentally and
emotionally healthier lawyers," says LAP Manager Denise Perme.
"We have helped folks with relationship problems, family issues, grief, mental
illness, addiction, stress, and more," Perme adds. "We have access to a long
list of referral resources in the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area and can help
our clients connect to the help they need. We also have a dedicated group of
volunteers - all lawyers in recovery - who can serve as mentors to LAP
clients."

16

WASHINGTON LAWYER

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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019

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YES, SELF-CARE MATTERS
Considering the long working hours, the often adversarial climate of litigation,
and the competitiveness within the legal field, it comes as no surprise that
stress could reach potentially debilitating levels for lawyers.
"There are so many goals, obstacles, or benchmarks that the profession sets up
that lawyers recognize that if we don't make them, we are going to be facing
some sort of difficulty," says Craig Moore, a Washington, D.C., criminal law
attorney who has struggled with depression before and throughout his fourdecade-long legal career. He now works with the Bar's Lawyer Assistance
Committee as a volunteer and gives seminars about managing depression.
"In a place like Washington, D.C., if you don't make a certain number of billable
hours, you're not going to be at that firm for very long. When you get into a big
firm, if you don't find partners that you can work for and keep happy so that
they will keep giving you work, you're not going to be able to keep up with
your billable hours. In some places, if you don't bring in clients, you don't last,"
Moore says.
Perme argues that many lawyers get so immersed in the competitive legal field,
sometimes barely keeping their heads above water, that self-care and selfawareness get severely neglected. Lack of self-care can exacerbate physical and
mental illness and lead to self-medication with alcohol, drugs, or other
unhealthy behavior that severely interferes with wellness, she says.


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Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Career & Professional Development
Calendar of Events
Goverment & Gavel
Feature: Fighting the Stigma: The D.C. Bar Lawyer Assistance Program
Feature: The Road to Wellness
Feature: Taking the Stand: How Corporate Monitorships Rein in Misbehavior
Global & Domestic Outlook
Worth Reading & Media Bytes
Attorney Briefs
Ask The Ethics Experts
Disciplinary Summaries
Community & Connections
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 1
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 2
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 3
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 7
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Career & Professional Development
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 9
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 11
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Goverment & Gavel
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 13
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Feature: Fighting the Stigma: The D.C. Bar Lawyer Assistance Program
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 15
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 16
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 17
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 18
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 19
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 20
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Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 22
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 23
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 24
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 25
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Feature: The Road to Wellness
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 27
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 28
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 29
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 30
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 31
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Feature: Taking the Stand: How Corporate Monitorships Rein in Misbehavior
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 33
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 34
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 35
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Global & Domestic Outlook
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 37
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Worth Reading & Media Bytes
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 39
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 41
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Ask The Ethics Experts
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 43
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 45
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 47
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Last Word
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Cover4
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