This article gives you a glimpse of the types of help LAPBC provides and how our Lawyer Counsellors respond to the needs of the community and spend their time.
7:30 a.m. Executive Director, Derek LaCroix, KC, meets with a law firm partner concerned about the drinking pattern of a lawyer in his firm. Derek discusses recovery support services and explores options to approach the lawyer. Together, Derek and the partner decide that the law firm will tell the lawyer that they have called LAPBC for assistance and that they recommend the lawyer call Lawyer Counsellor, Patrick Walker, who expects their call. They assure the lawyer that LAPBC is confidential and that the law firm will not learn what is said in the meeting with Patrick. Derek sets a follow-up meeting with the firm partner to check in and offer support.
8:30 a.m. Assistant Director/Lawyer Counsellor, Shari R Pearlman receives a call from a newer lawyer who finds herself procrastinating frequently, which subsequently creates feelings of overwhelm in her life. The lawyer is concerned her job may be in jeopardy - she is a single person who also helps support her aging father. The lawyer would like to find ways to manage her stress, overcome her procrastination and complete her work in a timely manner. Shari talks with her about her current level of self-care and support network and learns that the lawyer also struggles with overall well-being. Shari provides techniques to help her feel more grounded, brainstorms ways to take care of herself and emails her a worksheet to help her become “unstuck”. She refers the lawyer to the upcoming “Time Management and Boundaries” workshop. Shari schedules an appointment to check in with the lawyer in two weeks.
9:00 a.m. Lawyer Counsellor, Michael Lederman meets with a lawyer who states he feels depressed, unhappy and lonely. Michael inquires further about how the lawyer feels; if they are concerned about self-harm, and about any medical providers they are working with. He asks the lawyer about self-care and satisfaction level with his job. He learns that the lawyer is successful, however, his home life has not been comfortable since his divorce earlier this year. The lawyer notes that this is the first time he has ever reached out for help. Michael sets up another time to meet with the lawyer via Zoom. Michael refers him to an upcoming workshop “Feeling Better: A Cognitive Approach to Lawyers Managing Depression and Anxiety”.
9:00 a.m. Lawyer Counsellor, Michael Kahn is in his office organizing materials for his upcoming LAPBC blog post in The Advocate. He receives a call from a lawyer who is grieving the loss of her dear friend. Michael listens to the lawyer and helps her process her pain. They schedule another time to meet and he gives her grief exercises as “homework”.
10:00 a.m. Shari R Pearlman meets with a lawyer who states he is unhappy in his job. Shari listens and inquires further about how he is coping with his dissatisfaction and asks what he is thinking about doing next. Shari learns that the lawyer feels he is at a career crossroads and would like reassurance, guidance and tools for career self-assessment. Shari refers him to Lawyer Coach, Marv Stern and to an upcoming workshop, “What Can You Do with a Law Degree?” In this workshop, participants meet for four, 75-minute sessions to help hone job search skills, stay on task with their job search, and better assess what types of work makes sense for a potential job. In the meantime, she connects the lawyer with a LAPBC Volunteer to receive informal mentoring and to practice informational interview skills.
10:30 a.m. Derek receives a phone call from a concerned colleague of a lawyer who appears to be debilitated. The lawyer has observed his peer looking dishevelled on several occasions and observed him drink alcohol at a party until he passed out. He noticed the lawyer has been sneaking alcohol into his office and has often smelled alcohol on his colleague’s breath. The lawyer has admitted his own drinking scares him but he is not coping well with the death of his spouse, and states that drinking helps pass the time. Another one of this lawyer’s friends lives in the same building as the lawyer of concern and has seen him lost in the building on several occasions. She has also often smelled alcohol on his breath and noticed he was slurring his words at times. Derek suggested that the other lawyer give call him, too. If two people call, LAPBC will reach out gently and discreetly to assist a lawyer in need. Derek asks for a personal number and the best times to reach the lawyer of concern.
11:00 a.m. Derek receives a call from another concerned friend regarding the same lawyer who appears impaired by his drinking. This person has known the lawyer most of his life and is prepared to participate in an intervention with the help of Derek. This friend is close with the brother and adult children of the lawyer and is happy to reach out to them to see if they would like to participate. Derek explains that he wants to have a meeting with all 4 of the potential intervention team members which includes the two friends and two adult children. He will help and guide them in preparing scripts and in giving specific examples of how they have observed that the impact of the lawyer’s alcohol use has contributed to him acting out of character, harming relationships and damaging his goodwill in the community and legal community. The goal is to share specific concerns along with a message that they love him and want him to get help. Derek’s goal would be to arrange an alcohol evaluation and potential treatment for the lawyer, if needed. Since seeking help is personal and voluntary, the intervention is a unique experience to help people see the reality of their situation and hopefully reach out for the recommended help. It often takes an individual several points of contact to acknowledge and accept the need for outside help and to then engage in evaluation and treatment.
As the day progresses, each Lawyer Counsellor attends to clients and prepares workshops and presentations. At times, they consult with each other, engage in research and resource development, and read and listen for their own edification and training. Each individual on the team is committed to the well-being of the lawyers they serve, as well as the wider legal community.