Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation Teams with the American Bar Association for Critical New Research Study

CENTER CITY, MINN. (August 13, 2014) – The American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation are pleased to announce their collaboration on a groundbreaking new research project to survey the current rates of substance use, depression and anxiety among licensed attorneys throughout the United States.

The survey is designed to capture current data on these critical issues, with the results expected to impact all sectors of the legal community. From law schools and law students to the judiciary and disciplinary committees, the entire legal profession will benefit from this research.

"Available estimates peg the addiction rate of attorneys to be roughly twice that of the general population," said Patrick R. Krill, J.D., Director of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation's Legal Professionals Program. "Those estimates are quite dated though, and it appears the problem may be growing even worse. It's time to update the research and in doing so highlight the apparent need to devote more attention and allocate greater resources to this important issue."

Expected benefits of this research include:

  • The research will establish a new baseline understanding of where the legal profession currently stands in relation to the historically substantial challenges presented by substance use and other mental health problems.
  • The research will place an increased spotlight on these issues, presenting both the impetus and opportunity to revisit, update, and innovate in terms of profession-wide practices and cultural norms related to drinking, drug use, and psychological wellbeing. The research will provide a sturdy springboard toward proactive improvement on all of these fronts.
  • The research will provide a persuasive fund of knowledge to initiate, inform, and guide decision making and policy development in the following key areas: funding for Lawyer Assistance Programs, continuing legal education requirements, bar examination and admission requirements, discipline guidelines and procedures, malpractice, prevention, diversion, monitoring, early intervention, referral to treatment, strategies to reduce stigma, and increased career satisfaction and longevity among members of the bar.
  • The research will provide the knowledge to reduce the barriers that legal professionals experience in gaining access to assistance, treatment, and ongoing rehabilitation in order to increase attorney wellness, competence, and ethical behavior.

Terry Harrell the Chair of the ABA Commission on Lawyers Assistance Programs stated, "We should celebrate this important collaboration. Having well conducted, current research on how these issues impact our profession will help us to better target our resources and provide the best assistance we can to our profession. In addition, this research will help inform the work of lawyer discipline, judicial discipline, lawyer admissions, and all those providing treatment to judges, lawyers, and law students."

About the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation
The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation helps people reclaim their lives from the disease of addiction. It is the nation's largest nonprofit treatment provider, with a legacy that began in 1949 and includes the 1982 founding of the Betty Ford Center. With 15 sites in California, Minnesota, Oregon, Illinois, New York, Florida, Massachusetts, Colorado and Texas, the Foundation offers recovery solutions nationwide and across the entire continuum of care for youth and adults. It includes the largest recovery publishing house in the country, a fully-accredited graduate school of addiction studies, an addiction research center, an education arm for medical professionals and a unique children's program, and is the nation's leader in advocacy and policy for treatment and recovery.

About the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs
The ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs has the mandate to educate the legal profession concerning alcoholism, chemical dependencies, stress, depression, and other emotional health issues, and assist and support all bar associations and lawyer assistance programs in developing and maintaining methods of providing effective solutions for recovery. Learn more.

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