Alabama Lawyer Assistance Program
If you or a colleague is struggling with mental health, substance use, cognitive impairment, stress, burnout, or any other issue, the Alabama Lawyer Assistance Program is here to help.
We Provide Free and Confidential Support.
Phone number: (334) 224-6920 or (334) 517-2216
For after-hours assistance, please call the Lawyers Helpline at 1-800-605-8678.
If you are feeling vulnerable, suicidal, or are worried about someone, call 988, the national number for all mental health, substance use, and suicide crises.
The Alabama Lawyer Assistance Program (ALAP) has confidentially serviced over 1,000 lawyers, judges, and law students in the state of Alabama since the program started in 2000. ALAP offers confidential assistance and support to lawyers, judges and law students whose lives have been adversely impacted by struggles with mental health, substance use, cognitive impairment, stress and burnout, and any other issue or problematic behavior. ALAP provides opportunities for healing through intervention, facilitating assessments, referrals, education and a supportive network of other legal professionals, who many of them have shared the same struggles and found freedom.
While ALAP is a program of the Alabama State Bar, we preserve the anonymity of participants and do not disclose to other departments within the state bar. We attempt to meet in a local setting that is most comfortable for the individual. There is no risk to admission to the bar, or maintaining a license as a practicing attorney!
ALAP is a safe place to receive support and address concerns.
ALAP is also a voluntary program. While there is no professional risk involved in participating, there is also no pressure to do so. It is a daunting order to reach out for help, and we do not want to increase the already existing stress. We will provide encouragement, not force.
ALAP recognizes that each individual and experience is different, though there are often similarities. Our approach to the healing process varies from person to person. After an initial assessment by an ALAP staff member, a plan will be created that has been shown to have the most effective outcome. Our philosophy is based on the individual’s needs, and recommendations are grounded in best practices.
Jeremy has worked in the mental health field for more than 20 years. He has a passion for working with individuals who are facing challenges due to substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and a variety of other struggles. Having faced many of these matters in his own life and family, he is acutely aware of the power they can have and the relief that is possible. He holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Alabama.
Shannon has worked with the Alabama State Bar since 2004. She has been the case manager for the Alabama Lawyer Assistance Program in 2009, helping lawyers experiencing substance use and mental health issues. Shannon holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Montevallo and a master’s degree in counseling and human development from Troy State University. She also has a certification with the Alabama Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association as a Master’s Level Counselor.
Joycelyn Hill is the Law School Liaison and Outreach Coordinator for the Alabama Lawyer Assistance Program at the Alabama State Bar. She is originally from Valley, Alabama. Joycelyn works directly with the law students for program compliance management. Joycelyn has been a part of the state bar staff for nearly five years. Joycelyn is currently obtaining her doctorate degree in the Educational Leadership, Policy, and Law Program at Alabama State University.
The practice of law is one of the most demanding professions, and requires a lot to be successful. It necessitates much investment, such as time, emotion and mental endurance. It can be difficult to attain, or maintain balanced living. This can lead to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, burnout, suicidality, and many other problems. Regardless of area(s) of, or type of practice, all attorneys are susceptible to experiencing problems related to mental health. ALAP is here to address those and help find a path to balance and well-being.
The longer struggles go unaddressed, the more challenging they become. If left unchecked, personal strife will most likely transition into professional struggles, even to the point of disciplinary action being taken. We want to provide assistance to avoid that progression.
Because asking for help is an incredibly difficult task, sometimes the problematic behaviors and impaired judgement have already led to a bar complaint or disciplinary action. ALAP can help with that, too. We work with attorneys, and will hopefully be in a position to advocate, speaking to the efforts that they have put forth to overcome the problematic behaviors and struggles and demonstrate progress. It is NEVER too late to get help!
- Law Students
Law school is a stressful endeavor, to say the least. There are frequently worries regarding financial strains, time management and how to balance other responsibilities, pressure to perform, future employment, etc. This can create, or compound, mental and emotional challenges, such as anxiety, depression and substance abuse.
ALAP is here to help law students navigate this trying journey, and identify tools and support to improve well-being, by providing healthy coping mechanisms and strategies.
Where there may have been roadblocks in the past that may involve Character and Fitness, ALAP is a valuable resource to help navigate that process. We will work the law students and advocate, when appropriate, for their admission to the Alabama State Bar. The longer a student participates in ALAP, the easier it is to assist in that process.
As ALAP is a confidential program, we do not disclose participation to faculty or staff at the law school, nor to the Admissions Department at the Alabama State Bar, without permission, and only for the purpose of advocacy.
Now more than ever, judges are faced with their own set of professional hurdles. They contend with the challenge of making the right decision in cases, and they make decisions in cases that affect people’s lives, especially parents and young children in custodial and visitation cases.
Balancing work and family obligations; managing dockets and case load levels, including timely rulings in cases; and handling difficult/disgruntled parties, witnesses and/or attorneys are just a few of the stressors judges face daily.
ALAP approaches and makes recommendations for each person and set of circumstances based on that individual’s needs. ALAP has many resources internally, as well as an abundance of vetted referral options to address the variety of challenges that law students, attorneys and judges face.
Not all clients will need this approach. This option provides accountability when substance abuse or dependence is involved. It is also very helpful if someone is facing or dealing with disciplinary issues. It allows ALAP to advocate and show growth in recovery.
- Peer Support
ALAP offers in-person lawyer support groups in some areas as well as virtual recovery and wellness meetings.
ALAP has a state appointed committee of volunteer attorneys and judges that serve as mentors. Most of them have personal experience with mental health struggles and share how they have overcome their personal struggling while maintains a successful legal profession. As a part of the ALAP, they have the same requirement of confidentiality and will not discuss a client’s involvement in ALAP.
ALAP has a long list of licensed clinical professionals and treatment centers with years of experience in working with legal professionals. They have all been vetted by ALAP.
ALAP will advocate for clients, if desired and appropriate. We will provide support to law students who may be facing Character and Fitness hearings, as well as attorneys and judges who are experiencing disciplinary hearings.
The Alabama Lawyer Assistance Foundation is a nonprofit under the management of an elected Board of Directors.
The purpose of this award is to honor a state bar member, a volunteer or a committee member who has shown exemplary dedication to assisting those in need in the area of substance abuse or mental health. This award is granted by the Board of Bar Commissioners of the Alabama State Bar upon the report of the Alabama Lawyer Assistance Program (ALAP) Committee. There is no requirement that this award be presented on an annual basis or that it be limited to one recipient a year. Jeanne Marie Leslie is the former director of the Alabama Lawyer Assistance Program and her legacy continues on through this award.