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Venus/Mars : Gender Issues in Addiction and Recovery Lawyers Helping Lawyers

Venus/Mars : Gender Issues in Addiction and Recovery Lawyers Helping Lawyers

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Venus/Mars : Gender Issues in Addiction and Recovery Lawyers Helping Lawyers

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  1. Venus/Mars: Gender Issues in Addiction and RecoveryLawyers Helping Lawyers Venus and Mars: Gender Differences in Substance Abuse and Mental Health Matters Charlottesville-Albemarle Bar Association September 24, 2014 Barbara Williams, Deputy General Counsel, Partner, McGuire Woods President of Lawyers Helping Lawyers Renu Brennan, Assistant Bar Counsel Virginia State Bar Asha S. Pandya, Asha S. Pandya, P.C., Lawyers Helping Lawyers Board Member

  2. Virginia’s Lawyers Helping Lawyers Volunteers who provide a safety net for Virginia attorneys confronting mental health and substance abuse issues

  3. Survey of attorneys in Virginia found that-- 33% One third of Virginia attorneys report ~substance abuse or other mental health problems have interfered with their personal or professional life at some time.

  4. Survey Percentage of Virginia attorneys with alcohol problems between 9% and 12%

  5. About LHL

  6. What LHL Does • Assists attorneys, judges, law students, and other legal professionals with substance abuse and mental health matters • Provides evaluation, assessment and referrals, peer support, and monitoring services • Provides preventive services through educational outreach programs to the judiciary, law schools, law firms, bar associations, bar seminars, and other professional entities. • Maintains a listing of resources, programs, and health care providers competent to work with legal professionals.

  7. How it works-- What LHL Does Possibilities Step I Someone identifies the need for help • Step III--LHL provides • Information • Peer support • (individual or group) • Intervention • Referral to • AA/NA/GA • Therapist • Rehab center • Monitoring agreement • or other • appropriate support Contact LHL Step II LHL assesses need

  8. Attorneys’ ethical obligations with respect to impaired attorneys

  9. Rule 1.16 • (a) . . . a lawyer shall not represent a client or, where representation has commenced, shall withdraw from the representation of a client if: . . .(2) the lawyer's physical or mental condition materially impairs the lawyer's ability to represent the client {Exception for court proceedings—get the judge’s permission before withdrawing Rule 1.16}

  10. What are your obligations when you encounter an impaired attorney? It depends. . .

  11. Rule 8.3 A lawyer having reliable information that another lawyer has committed a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness to practice law shall inform the appropriate professional authority. Does NOT apply to information obtained by LHL for the purpose of helping the attorney. 8.3(d)

  12. LHL CIVIL IMMUNITY Immunity for LHL volunteers: Good faith acts or omissions in connection with LHL activities are immune from civil liability.

  13. Gender Issues in Addiction & Recovery • What we know to be true about chemically dependent men and women. • Some messages that men and women receive. • Differences and similarities in what men and women need from treatment.

  14. A few things we know to be true about chemically dependent men and women • Men are more likely to be homeless, victims of violent crimes, commit suicide and to die by as a result of a violent crime • Men are 2 to 5 times more likely to develop a substance- use disorder • Alcohol dependency exacerbates faster and with less alcohol in women • Women are three times more likely to be prescribed a mood altering drug for their physical or emotional issues • Women do not access services as early into their addictions as men

  15. Some messages that men receive • Men are taught that they are expendable • That they shouldn’t express emotions • Must succeed at all costs • Only depend on women for their emotional needs • They should “need” sex and that they should know how to please their mate • Fatherhood is not as important as motherhood • Always appear confident and strong

  16. Some messages that women receive • Women are to be the primary caregiver in the family • To put their relationships with others before their relationship with themselves • Depend on men for financial stability • Take on the majority of household responsibilities even if they are part of the workforce • That women must maintain a certain image emotionally, mentally and physically

  17. Women need a treatment experience where they can • Feel comfortable to share experiences, ideas and feelings • Encourage each other to share • Cooperate better than when in a mixed group • Feel safe to share about trauma issues • Develop a greater sense of self • Understand how to have empathy for themselves and feel empowered

  18. Men need a treatment experience where they can • Develop an authentic self and define what that means to him • Challenge the idea that they must always be strong and confident • Address the sense of being expendable and that they must succeed at all costs  • Oppose the idea that they must perform, be aggressive and trust no one • Understand how to accept and express their emotions

  19. Similarities about what men and women both need from treatment • A strong gender specific presence that is trained in chemical dependency, dual diagnoses and trauma informed treatment • Treatment planning that is individualized and gender responsive • Therapists with whom men and women can positively identify • Assigned groups and activities based on individualized needs • Integration of 12 Step Recovery into all aspects of treatment

  20. Contact LHL 24-Hour Confidential Hotline: 877-545-4682

  21. Contact LHL 600 East Main Street Suite 2035 Richmond, Virginia 23219 Phone: (804)644-3212 Fax: (804)644-5510 E-mail:

  22. Use Member Resources • Women aren’t afraid to ask questions, so when in doubt ask! • If you have a question about whether something may violate the Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC), call the Ethics Hotline (804) 775-0564. The Ethics Hotline is a confidential consultation service for members of the Virginia State Bar. Any member of the bar may seek informal ethics or unauthorized practice of law advice by calling the Ethics Hotline at (804) 775-0564. You will be prompted to leave a voice mail message, and your call will be returned in the order of receipt. • E-mail Ethics , go to, Member Resources tab, Ethics Questions and Opinions, click on E-mail Your Ethics Questions. Depending on the complexity of your question, you will receive either an e-mail response or a return phone call. The ethics staff strives to respond to your questions within the same day.

  23. Respond to the Bar • Typically the majority of bar complaints are dismissed because the bar complaint either did not present an issue under the RPC or because the bar complaint alleged minor allegations of ethical misconduct susceptible to early resolution (my lawyer will not return my calls). Seventy-eight percent of complaints were dismissed in the 2013 fiscal year. • Your participation at each stage of the process is thus critical, because a lawyer from the Bar may call to resolve an issue susceptible of resolution and to dismiss the complaint before it is even sent to you for a formal response.

  24. What if you do receive a Bar complaint?

  25. Respond/You Have a Duty to Do So Rule 8.1(c) • The Bar’s Disciplinary Procedures is set forth at Part 6, Section IV, Paragraph 13 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia. • RPC 8.1(c) imposes an affirmative duty on attorneys to respond to a lawful demand for information from a disciplinary authority, except that the Rule does not require disclosure of information otherwise protected by RPC 1.6.

  26. Respond Promptly and Thoroughly • Be proactive. As tempting as it is, do not bury or ignore the bar complaint. Deal with the complaint, and deal with it promptly. • You have 21 days to respond to the complaint. • If you need an extension, ask. The bar typically grants reasonable requests for extensions. Confirm the request in writing. • The disciplinary procedure is set forth at, Member Resources tab, Professional Guidelines and Rules of Professional Conduct, Organization of the Virginia State Bar. • Knowledge is power, so know the process. • Ask questions. • Do not be afraid of the Bar. • The Bar wants and needs to understand both sides of the story to determine whether there really is a viable complaint of ethical misconduct. • You need to convey your side of the story.

  27. Tips in Responding • Be analytical, thorough, and thoughtful. • Read and review the bar complaint thoroughly. • Read the complaint several times. • Take notes, review your file, and outline a careful and deliberate response. • Handle your complaint as you would any other client matter. • Base your response on facts not emotions. • Review the professional rules of conduct, determine which may be at issue, and review the law and legal ethics opinions. • Answer the allegations honestly. • Provide facts, information, and documents, such as retainer agreements and correspondence which supports your response.

  28. Rule 8.1(c) • The Bar’s Disciplinary Procedures is set forth at Part 6, Section IV, Paragraph 13 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia. • RPC 8.1(c) imposes an affirmative duty on attorneys to respond to a lawful demand for information from a disciplinary authority, except that the Rule does not require disclosure of information otherwise protected by RPC 1.6.

  29. Counsel • Consider hiring a lawyer who represents lawyers in disciplinary proceedings. • At a minimum, review the complaint and response with a trusted friend or colleague. • Reach out to those whom you trust and consult with them on how best to respond.

  30. Response is Critical/Disciplinary Process • The response is critical in the review of the complaint. • Bar counsel will review the response and share it with the Complainant, after which Bar counsel can either dismiss the complaint or refer the matter to the appropriate district committee for further investigation. • Where the complainant is not the client, but is opposing counsel or a judge, may affect the analysis of what is shared in the response.

  31. Dismissal of Complaint • Bar counsel shall dismiss the complaint when it is clear from the complaint, response, and any rebuttal, and any attachments and accompanying documentation that: 1. As a matter of law, the conduct questioned or alleged does not constitute ethical misconduct; 2. The evidence available shows that the Respondent did not engage in the Misconduct questioned or alleged; 3. There is no credible evidence to support any allegation of Misconduct by the Respondent; or 4. The evidence available could not reasonably be expected to support any allegation of ethical misconduct under a clear and convincing evidentiary standard. See Paragraph 13-10.E.1-4.

  32. What if the Complaint is Not Dismissed? • Referred to the district committee where you practice for further investigation • As with your duty to respond to the complaint, you have a duty to participate honestly in the investigation of the complaint. See Rule of Professional Conduct 8.1. • Participate in the investigation. • Respond promptly to the subpoena. • Bar can enforce subpoena by going before the Disciplinary Board.

  33. Agreed Disposition • At every stage of the process, an attorney has the opportunity to reach out to the Bar, either pro se or through counsel to discuss the matter and an agreed resolution. • Many matters are resolved through Agreed Disposition.

  34. Participate in the Disciplinary System • Volunteer to serve on the District Committee. • After serving on a District Committee, serve on the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board. • Represent respondents.