Lawyers’ Assistance Program
History & Background
The Louisiana State Bar Association Committee on Alcohol and Drug Abuse was first established in 1985 to provide confidential assistance to members of the Bar and their families who were experiencing problems with alcohol or drug abuse. The Committee is composed of men and women volunteers, some in recovery from alcohol and drug abuse, some family members in recovery, and some just interested in helping with this mounting problem which permeates our profession and our society.
Due in large measure to the commitment, support, and encouragement of the Louisiana Bar Foundation (IOLTA), Louisiana Supreme Court and Louisiana State Bar Association, the Committee formed a non-profit corporation in 1991 and hired a director to coordinate and carry out the goals of the Committee. This corporation was aptly named "Lawyers Assistance Program, Inc." (LAP).
In April, 1992, an office was opened separate from the Bar Center, which allowed the director to better organize a network of practicing lawyers willing to provide assistance to impaired lawyers and judges. The office has given the committee members access to a vast amount of professional education information that enables them to deal appropriately with impaired lawyers and judges.
The goal of the Lawyers Assistance Program is to serve the public, the Bar and the profession by assisting, on a confidential basis, lawyers or judges whose professional impairment may stem from alcohol/drug abuse, mental health problems or gambling addiction. LAP is first and foremost an absolutely confidential method of providing help to an impaired lawyer or judge. By La. R.S. 37:221 and La. Supreme Court Rule XIX, Sec. 16(J), any information received by the LAP director or committee members must remain completely confidential.
Telephone calls or other communications from or about an impaired lawyer or judge are directed to the LAP director, who is then responsible for getting immediate and confidential assistance to the lawyer or judge. The follow-up action by the LAP director usually takes the form of personal and individual assistance to the lawyer or judge in question. One or more lawyers in that area of the state in which the impaired lawyer or judge is located (and who is recovering from the same type of impairment as is affecting the lawyer or judge) is requested by the LAP director to become involved in a collaborative assessment process. If needed, the LAP director is personally involved in the intervention process and/or assisting in proposing a treatment plan.