Because of the sensitive nature of addiction and psychological problems, law students, attorneys, or judges who need help—or want to assist someone else who might need help—are often reluctant to seek assistance. Recognizing this concern, and in order to foster early and confidential contact, the Indiana Supreme Court authorized the creation of JLAP with the passage of Rule 31 of the Indiana Rules on Admission to the Bar and Discipline of Attorneys.
Research has shown that lawyers may suffer from substance abuse and depression at a rate higher than the general population. Experience has shown that lawyers may be more reluctant than others to seek help for their own problems. The purpose of JLAP is to provide confidential assistance to judges, lawyers, and law students who may encounter these and other issues that could impair their ability to practice in a professional and competent manner.
This website is intended to provide members of the bar and bench with preliminary information about substance abuse, mental health, and other issues that can interfere with the practice of law. If you think you might have a problem, are concerned about someone else, or want to become a JLAP volunteer, please explore this website, read about JLAP's obligation to confidentiality, and then contact JLAP for further assistance or information.
JLAP offers help to judges, attorneys, and law students who experience physical or mental disabilities that result from disease, chemical dependency, mental health problems, or age, which may impair these individuals' ability to practice in a competent and professional manner. Help varies with an individual's needs or a particular case, but ranges from information and referral to assistance with organization of an intervention. In addition, JLAP provides education to the bench and bar on relevant issues.
Because of the sensitive nature of addiction and psychological problems, law students, attorneys, or judges who need help—or want to assist someone else who might need help—are often reluctant to seek assistance. Recognizing this concern, and in order to foster early and confidential contact, the Indiana Supreme Court authorized the creation of JLAP will the passage of Rule 31 of the Indiana Rules on Admission to the Bar and Discipline of Attorneys.
The creation of JLAP in October 1997 merged two premier volunteer organizations—the Indiana State Bar Association's Lawyers Assistance Committee and the Judicial Assistance Team, an Indiana Supreme Court Pilot Program coordinated through the Judicial Center. Dedicated volunteers—both recovering and non-recovering—provide the crucial statewide network of peer support that enables JLAP to effectively deliver services to judges, attorneys and law students in need throughout Indiana. Volunteer opportunities also exist in a variety of areas in addition to peer support.
For more information about Lawyer Assistance Programs, please visit the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (COLAP) website.
Substance Abuse. It is estimated that 10% of the general population is addicted to alcohol and/or other drugs. Attorneys (as well as other professionals) are considered to be more susceptible. Some sources estimate that 12-14%1 of attorneys are addicted to alcohol and/or other drugs. Other sources estimate that number to be as high as 18-20%2. With approximately 17,000 licensed Indiana Attorneys, that means anywhere from 2,040 to 3,400 addicted attorneys.
The Good News: while the general population recovery rate is a mere 40-50%, attorney recovery is as high as 80-90%3.
Depression. Attorneys have a higher incidence of psychological impairment and a higher suicide rate than the general public. Some sources estimate that as many as 30% of lawyers suffer from depression.
Denial: Professionals come well equipped with denial. They are more entrenched and better defended through the use of professional skills (advocacy, intelligence, advice-givers not advice-takers, devoted to the care of others).
Resources: Their positions often allow for longer periods for the addiction's progression (finances; support staff; hesitancy of colleagues, judges, office staff to confront them), and misguided loyalty.
2 LAPs around the country
3 Dr. Pelham, OLAP