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Sponsored by Lorman Education
Product ID: 409097EAU
Credit & Course Provided by:

Workplace Substance Abuse and Ethical Issues With Impaired Lawyer

OnDemand Webinar (90 minutes)

Learn how to recognize mental health and substance abuse within your colleagues and how to address them about it.It has been a truism for decades, if not centuries, that lawyers have problems with the bottle - it is a common cliché in movies and novels. Often the impaired attorney is the managing partner or the firm's rainmaker. It can be uncomfortable for colleagues to address the issue. Frequently they ignore the problem until it's too late - the firm has angry clients, malpractice suits and disciplinary action. This information will address some of the underlying reasons that lawyers suffer disproportionally high rates of substance abuse and mental health problems. It will review some common examples of attorney misconduct caused by substance abuse and/or mental illness. This material will look at both how these issues affect both the individual attorneys and the firm as a whole. It will also provide suggestions on some ways to protect your firm and your practice from impaired colleagues and where to go for help. Finally, this information will suggest some best practices to have in place prior to any problems.


Meredith S. Heller, Law Office of Meredith S. Heller PLLC



• Current Statistics on Lawyers and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Issues and Some Possible Explanations for These Numbers

• General Understanding of Causes - Nature of Legal Work, Self-Selecting Population

• Differences Among Attorneys Re: Gender, Age, Area of Practice, Length of Practice, Income

• Signs and Symptoms of Substance Abuse and/or Mental Health Issues

How These Disorders Impact Lawyers' Practice

• Ethical Violations and Discipline - Common Types of Misconduct That Are Frequently the Result of Mental Health Problems and Substance Abuse: Neglect, Poor Practice Management, Comingling

• Criminal Consequences - DWI, Drug Possession, Assaults, Domestic Violence Offenses

• Malpractice Claims - Inability to Be Insured

How These Disorders Impact the Workplace

• Liability/Malpractice Issues

- Impaired Attorneys

- Impaired Managing Partners

- Impaired Support Staff

• Potential Professional Discipline

- What Are the Reporting Requirements Under Rule 8.3?

- What Potential Exposure Does the Rest of the Firm Have? (See in Re: Wilens and Baker Firm Was Disciplined for Failure to Address Misconduct by Partner)

• Revenue and Firm Reputation

Firm-Wide Policies and Procedures

• Requirements Under the Americans With Disabilities Act for Employees With Substance Abuse and Mental Health Issues

• Suggestions for Firm Policies to Be Established Before a Problem Arises

Strategies for Getting Help

• Asking for Help - and Issues to Be Aware of - Lawyers Assistance Programs, Peers, Human Resources Departments

• Ways to Approach the Impaired Colleague

Treatment and Disciplinary Alternatives for the Impaired Attorney

• Diversion Programs

• Lawyers Assistance Programs

• New Trends in Treatment - Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Alternatives to 12-Step Programs, etc.

Suggestions for Maintaining Firm Well-Being and a Healthy Environment for Employees

• Wellness Policies

• Vacation and Electronic Media Policies