News Post

Alabama State Bar to Provide Five Free Hours of Counseling to Its Nearly 20,000 Members

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Alabama State Bar has announced the launch of an all-new confidential helpline, providing each member with up to five free hours of counseling annually. The Drive for Five initiative, which includes a statewide driving tour to promote the free counseling services, is aimed at lessening the stigma surrounding mental health issues and offer more support to its members.

The nearly 20,000 Alabama State Bar members can now dial the Lawyers Helpline (1-800-605-8678) and speak with a mental-health professional who can provide crisis intervention and connect callers with a licensed counselor.

(Please note: This number is not a referral service to find a lawyer or make a complaint against a lawyer.)

The service is provided through an agreement with CorpCare EAP, which has thousands of licensed professionals nationwide. Callers will be referred to a counselor who fits their individual needs and preferences, and they can choose between remote counseling or a local, in-person counselor. Whether attorneys need help with parenting problems, family problems, work difficulties, marital concerns, emotional upsets, stress problems, depression, alcohol/drug misuse, or other personal concerns, the line is open 24/7 and is completely confidential. No one at the bar will ever know the identity of those who take advantage of the service.

President Gibson Vance, who spearheaded the launch of the free counseling services and helpline, said, “If I have an ethics question, I know I can call the bar’s ethics helpline for assistance and peace of mind. Lawyers should feel just as confident in calling this new Lawyers Helpline for emotional issues impacting their lives, whether personally or professionally. There is no problem that is too large or too small.”

The Alabama State Bar has been offering confidential assistance to lawyers for years through the Alabama Lawyer Assistance Program (ALAP), which offers confidential mental health and substance abuse counseling through anonymous referrals, as well as self-referrals. Leaders hope the addition of the helpline will bolster the bar’s commitment to the health and wellness, remove the stigma and financial barriers for getting help, and, most importantly, bring the importance of attorney well-being to the center of the conversation.

A recent study by the American Bar Association found that 21 percent of licensed, employed attorneys qualify as problem drinkers, 28 percent struggle with some level of depression, and 19 percent experience symptoms of anxiety. At some point in their career, 11.4 percent of attorneys felt that suicide might be a solution to their issues.

The Drive for Five is President Vance’s statewide initiative to get Alabama lawyers the help they need. During his term as president, which runs through July 2023, he will travel to all 41 judicial circuits in Alabama to promote the service and the five free hours of counseling each attorney can take advantage of each year. His first stops are scheduled next week in Andalusia, Dothan, Enterprise and Eufaula.

“As I visit every circuit in the state, I hope to drive home the message that to be a good lawyer, one must be a healthy lawyer. Lawyers have significantly higher rates of problematic drinking and mental health problems than the general population. Too many individuals are struggling and suffering, and the impact is too great for us to ignore,” added President Vance.

Media Contact: Melissa Warnke
Director of Communications, Alabama State Bar
(334) 517.2218 (c) | (256) 338.0621 (c)

The Alabama State Bar (ASB) is the official licensing and regulatory organization of lawyers in Alabama. Since 1923, when the Alabama State Bar was created by an act of the legislature, ASB programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system. It is dedicated to promoting the professional responsibility and competence of its members, improving the administration of justice and increasing the public understanding of and respect for the law.