The Lawyer Assistance Program Experience, Part 2

The Lawyer Assistance Program Experience, Part 2

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People come to the LAP to get rehabilitation,
so they can function in a healthy professional manner. We’re staffed entirely by licensed mental health professionals, the entire team. The intake interview is where a participant gets to tell the case manager what is going
on with them. At the intake I expected that I was going to be charged. Before I walked in the door,
but the case manager was spectacular. The intake was extremely supportive and positive. It was the first empathy to my situation that I had felt, since getting a D.U.I. A participants’ first three to four months in the program is what we refer to as the
evaluation phase. It’s a time in which the participant gets to know their facilitator,
their case manager, the other folks who are in their group. And it’s also the time when
the staff both the group facilitators and the case managers learn to better understand
each participant in their own individual struggles and issues. The heart and soul of the LAP are our LAP
groups that meet in communities throughout California. They are generally comprised of
six to eight attorneys from the local community, who meet for an hour and a half and talk about
mutual concerns and issues. There’s something powerful about people
having people come together and say, “I get you. I’ve gone through that same thing,
and you’re not alone.” You have the ability to get the exposure to
the support groups, and get the benefits of participation in a manner that exposes you
to different ways of living your life. I can see in somebody else, something I do that I don’t see in myself. So by being
with a group of people who have similar experiences, I can say “Oh, I do that too,” and learn
from their experiences, as well as learning from mine. The notion is that if you be open to change, you may find that the change is beneficial.
That’s what I found. The committee is a group of professionals who come together and meet with the participant,
understand what their challenges and issues are…have input from the case managers, and
the facilitators about what’s happening with that participant. And out of that meeting
and process is formulated what’s called “The Participation Plan.” Often times the committee will ask the participant, “What is it that you think you need?”
And when you clear away the rest of all the rivato, often times the participant what they
see they need; is what we see they need. They may not want that, but we see the same thing
and we have the same goal. The evaluation committee is not cort. A lot
of attorneys think they are going to come in and they are going to be judged about what
they’ve done in the past, or it’s a bad thing. And it’s not that at all. I didn’t know what to expect, but they all turned out to be exactly what I was needing. Our goal as a committee is really to give back, and make the most appropriate plan for
a lawyer who doesn’t know where to go now. I found the evaluation committee initially intimidating. Because A) I didn’t know what
to expect. And B) there were all these people kind of staring at me, and analyzing me. You don’t have to take notes, you don’t
have to bring a lawyer with you. You don’t have to defend your actions. We’re not here
for any of that. We’re only here to say: “this is what is happening now, how can
we help you move forward.” Looking back at it the experience was necessary for me to have guidance through a very transitional
period in my life where I Had to really examine what I was doing with myself. It was just a focus on you hear things you really have to do. There was a lot of different people, with a lot of different experiences…all working
to help give me guidance, and help me with improving my life. I have not had a drink or a drug in well over three years. It’s incredible, I have been away from bar requirements to do anything for about five
years. And I still do all three, voluntarily…’cause I think it’s so beneficial. Getting into LAP was the best thing that could ever happened to me. It changed my life immeasurably
for the better. I endorse it because it is beneficial and it does work.

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