Help for a Colleague

Concerned About a Colleague?

LCL provides intervention assistance.

You have noticed that your colleague seems to be “off.” Perhaps they have become unreliable, erratic, isolated, more irritable, and/or their physical appearance has changed. They seem to lack focus, or they are calling off work at an increasing rate. Perhaps the quality of their work product is also declining. Call us to confidentially express your concerns; we can recommend resources and an approach that may assist your colleague.

Let LCL staff assist you in formulating a thoughtful, collaborative and empowering approach that has the highest likelihood of successfully encouraging your colleague to accept assistance.

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 to withhold the identity of the lawyer or judge in distress.

Why Should I Help a Lawyer in Distress?

Lawyers suffering from untreated substance use or mental health disorders may ultimately cause damage to their clients, employers and the bench and bar, thereby undermining the public’s confidence and trust in our justice system. By calling LCL, you are contributing to the preservation of the integrity of the bench and bar. Colleagues struggling with mental health and substance use issues often do not seek help on their own; you can be the person who saves your colleague’s career and perhaps his or her life.

    What is My Duty to Report? What About Confidentiality?

    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. This rule does not require disclosure of information otherwise protected by Rule 1.6 or information gathered by a lawyer or judge while participating in an approved lawyers assistance program.” (emphasis added.)**

    **Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers is the ‘approved’ assistance program for lawyers and judges in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.**

    Comment 7 explains: “… providing for an exception … encourages lawyers and judges to seek treatment through such a program. Conversely, without such an exception, lawyers and judges may hesitate to seek assistance from these programs, which may then result in additional harm to their professional careers and additional injury to the welfare of clients and to the public.”

    Rule 5.1 addresses the responsibility of a supervising attorney to “make reasonable efforts to ensure that the other lawyer confirms to the Rules of Professional Conduct.”  

    Dangerous Myths that Keep People Sick

    • Attorneys do not struggle with mental health and substance use issues.
    • Addiction is a ‘moral’ issue.
    • It will get better eventually.
    • It is none of my business. 
    • If I approach my colleague, I will jeopardize my relationship with him or her.
    • We should not discuss these matters for fear of ruining my colleague’s reputation and career.

    Do not sit idly by while a colleague’s struggles harm their health and professionalism.

    The only ‘wrong’ thing you can do is nothing!