Nebraska Lawyers Assistance Program
The Nebraska Lawyers Assistance Program (NLAP) offers help to lawyers, judges and law students troubled by sub- stance abuse problems, stress, depression and other types of disorders which may impair their ability to perform in a competent and professional manner. NLAP was created for this purpose in 1995 by the NSBA; and the director and volunteers of NLAP, who are members of the NSBA's Committee on the Nebraska Lawyers Assistance Program, know the problems faced by their impaired colleagues and how to help overcome these problems.
Because of the sensitive nature of addiction and psychological problems, lawyers who may be in need of help are often very reluctant to seek it. Recognizing this concern and in order to foster early and confidential contact with NLAP and its volunteers, the Supreme Court of Nebraska adopted DR 4-101(E) as part of the Code of Professional Responsibility. DR 4-101(E) provides that the relationship between a member of the Committee and/or the NLAP Director and a lawyer or judge who seeks or receives assistance through the Committee or NLAP shall be the same as that of attorney and client for the purposes of the application of DR 1-103, DR 4-101 and DR 7-102(B).
The foundation of Nebraksa Lawyers Assistance Program is a network of judges and lawyers throughout the state of Nebraska who are themselves recovering from alcohol and other drug addiction, psychological problems, and impairment caused by other conditions. The NLAP director and these volunteers stand ready to assist their colleagues in all areas of their recovery.
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION CALL THE NLAP TOLL-FREE HOTLINE 24HRS, 7 DAYS A WEEK AT (888) 584-6527 (NLAP)
NLAP Can Help
Among the services which NLAP can offer to an impaired lawyer, judge or law student are:
- Assessment and Referral: The NLAP director and/or members of the Committee will meet with the affected person, either at the NLAP office or elsewhere, to assess the problem and recommend available professional evaluation, treatment and rehabilitation options.
- Interventions: In appropriate situations, the director will plan, rehearse, and facilitate a formal intervention to assist the affected person in recognizing his or her problem and in beginning the recovery process.
- Peer Support Network: The affected person will be paired with a recovering lawyer in his/her geographical area to provide support by acting as a mentor, guiding him/her into the recovery process and assisting him/her to maintain recovery.
- Education and Prevention: NLAP works with law firms, the courts, NSBA committees and sections, and local bar associations to provide education concerning lawyer impair- ment and recovery. In addition, NLAP makes regular presentations at the law schools in the state concerning chemical dependency and its effect on lawyers and on law students seeking admission to the practice of law.
Facts About Impairment
- Addiction and depression are treatable illnesses.
- Addiction and depression occur in every socioeconomic group. It is generally accepted that their prevalence within certain professions, including the legal profession, is higher than it is among the general population. Alcohol is the most widely used and destructive drug in America.
- Alcohol abuse among women has doubled in recent years. Previously the ratio of female to male alcoholics was 1 to 6; it is now 1 to 3.
- Marijuana is not a "benign" drug. It severely affects memory, concentration, and ambition.
- Complications associated with the use of cocaine include damage to the heart, brain, and other vital organs. Continued use causes dramatic personality changes and deterioration of ethical values, leading to criminal and disciplinary penalties.
- One of the unique symptoms of chemical dependency is denial - the addicted person usually has little or no insight into his/her problem and simply denies that it exists.
- It has been estimated that as many as 50% to 70% of the lawyers who are respondents in proceedings before bar disciplinary committees are chemically dependent.
- Early intervention and treatment of the addicted person often leads to complete recovery.
Another Bar Exam
(Answer these questions as honestly as you possibly can)
- Are my associates, clients, or support personnel alleging that my drinking/drug use is interfering with my work?
- Do I plan my office routine around my drinking/drug use?
- Am I fooling myself into believing that my drinking at business lunches is really necessary?
- Do I ever feel I need a drink/drug to face certain situations?
- Do I drink/use drugs alone?
- Because of my drinking/drug use have I ever had a loss of memory when I was apparently conscious and functioning?
- Has my ambition or efficiency decreased since I began drinking/drugging?
- Do I ever drink/drug before meetings or court appearances to calm my nerves, gain courage, or improve performance?
- Do I want, or take, a drink/drug the next morning?
- Have I missed or adjourned closings, court appearances or other appointments because of my drinking/drug use?
- Because of my drinking/using drugs, have I ever felt any of the following: fear, remorse, guilt, real loneliness, depression, severe anxiety, terror, or a feeling of impending doom?
- Is drinking/drug use making me careless of my family's welfare or other personal responsibilities?
- Does my drinking/drug use lead me to questionable environments or acquaintances?
- Do I really "need" a drink/drug to steady my nerves?
- Have I ever neglected my office administration or misused funds because of my drinking/drug use?
- Am I becoming increasingly reluctant to face my clients and colleagues in order to hide my drinking/drug use?
- Have I ever had the shakes, the sweats, or hallucinations as the result of my drinking/ drug use?
- Do I lie to hide the amount I am drinking or using drugs?
- Could my occasional or frequent disturbed or fitful sleeping be the result of my drinking/ drug use?
- Have I ever been hospitalized or treated by a doctor directly or indirectly as a result of my drinking/drug use?
IF I HAVE ANSWERED YES TO ONE OR MORE OF THE ABOVE QUESTIONS, THEN I OWE IT TO MYSELF, MY FAMILY, MY PROFESSION AND MY CLIENTS TO CONTACT THE NEBRASKA LAWYERS ASSISTANCE PROGRAM at 1-(888) 584-6527.
A Treatable Illness
Chemical dependency is not a moral issue; it is, instead, a treatable illness which causes a deterioration of moral and ethical values. The stigma is not in having the illness but in failing to seek treatment once its presence is recognized. Seeking treatment is perfectly acceptable social behavior. Chemical dependency is a progressive disease -- it never gets better by itself.
Free, confidential help is available to you or any lawyer you know who may be having problems with alcohol or other drugs or with a psychological condition which is impairing the ability to practice law or to live life. If you or someone you care about are suffering from such a problem, professional and peer assistance is available to help bring about a postive change.
NEBRASKA LAWYERS ASSISTANCE PROGRAM CAN HELP. PLEASE MAKE THE CALL - 1-(888) 584-6527 (NLAP)
- Commission on Lawyers Assistance Programs
The ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs has the mandate to educate the legal profession concerning alcoholism, chemical dependencies, stress, depression and other emotional health issues, and assist and support all bar associations and lawyer assistance programs in developing and maintaining methods of providing effective solutions for recovery.
LawLifeline is a site dedicated the emotional health needs of law students.