Concerned About a Colleague?
You’ve noticed that your colleague seems to be “off”; that certain personal and professional characteristics are changing for the worse. At first you thought it was temporary and, because it didn’t seem to affect his or her work, you were not overly concerned. After all, who are you to intervene into his/her personal life? Life has its ups and downs and your colleague may be going through a tough time. But it has been going on for a while and things are getting worse not better. You’ve observed (or heard of) some problems concerning the lawyer that are circulating among other lawyers and the courthouse grapevine. If things don’t turnaround there is a real possibility of someone filing a complaint with the Disciplinary Board. Nobody wants that. His or her reputation and career is at risk, but what can you do?
Perhaps LCL can help. You can choose to talk in confidence to LCL’s Executive Director or Deputy Executive Director, a volunteer or a professional interventionist. Your call to LCL does not obligate you to take any action. We will answer your questions, provide free literature, and offer guidance. You may even choose to remain anonymous or keep the identity of the lawyer or judge in distress anonymous.
The call and our services are free and confidential. Why delay? Call now.
Should I Help the Impaired Lawyer?
We are a self-regulating profession with a duty to, promote the administration of justice and preserve the integrity of the organized Bench and Bar. Rule 8.3 (a) states: “A lawyer who knows another lawyer has committed a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, shall inform the appropriate professional authority.”
Lawyers suffering from untreated alcoholism, drug addiction, depression, emotional or mental health disorders will eventually harm their clients, disrupt the administration of justice and undermine the public’s confidence and trust in our justice system. Sooner or later you will be faced with the decision of whether or not to report an attorney’s professional misconduct. Although LCL cannot advise you in these matters, we can put you in touch with an ethics attorney who can assist you in making an informed decision about whether or not to report.
There is also a humane side to the issue – can we really sit on the sidelines and watch a lawyer descend into the depths of despair, dysfunction, disbarment and sometimes death?
Nevertheless we may hesitate getting involved. Isn’t this a private matter better left to friends and family? The fact is that friends and family may not know what to do or have been unsuccessful in their efforts to intervene. Attorneys are adept at overpowering non-lawyers. Sometimes it takes another attorney or an authority figure, such as a managing partner or judge, to pierce the cloak of denial.