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Is LAP The Only Game In Town?

Don't get me wrong-- I'm a big-time fan of the existing network of lawyer assistance programs ("LAPs"). Their mission to assist women and men in the legal profession who suffer from medically diagnosable health challenges-- many oriented around physical addictions-- is both laudable and necessary. Full stop.

But what about the dozens of others who struggle with mental challenges that don't (yet) rise to the level of a medically diagnosable condition? I'm not a trained health professional, and this piece is not the appropriate place to cite scientific studies that support my position, but anecdotally, it seems that for every one woman or man who requires LAP assistance, there are many others who suffer from conditions for which LAP organizations simply don't possess necessary resources. What about them?

I do not mean to suggest that LAP programs should in any way alter the focus of their staff's attention-- I do not. I do, however, suggest that either: 1) LAP programs expand their focus, to include non-medical mental health conditions, or 2) Stick to doing what they do well, and publicly encourage other third parties to assist others, who do not fall within the parameters of LAP capabilities.

Making a decision, and messaging that decision clearly to the legal community, would be a significant development and would clarify (both in the minds of LAP staff and the in the minds of the lawyers they serve) a matter of distinction about which there is little guidance and a whole lot of resulting confusion.

Lawyers are taught (quite sensibly) that we cannot be all things to all people-- and we ought not try to be. Why should it be any different for the good women and men who work for our LAP organizations? Lawyer wellbeing has finally gained the status that it rightly deserves, and the physical/mental/emotional needs encompassed under the penumbra of wellbeing, are multiple-- as well as diverse.

The rules of the lawyer wellbeing game are evolving, and the legal profession needs to evolve with them. The prior model of labelling LAP organizations as the exclusive source of health assistance for lawyers is increasingly passe and should be examined, to meet current challenges.

The times, they are a' changing!


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