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A Word of Caution for Lawyer Assistance Programming

16 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2005  

Fred C. Zacharias

University of San Diego School of Law


With increasing awareness of the problem of substance abuse in the legal profession has come the natural desire to develop responses. Formal bar-sponsored "lawyer assistance" programs have sprouted throughout the United States. Many of these programs have been accompanied by rules that permit lawyers to seek help on a confidential basis.

There is a very real tension between the functions of the bar in assisting lawyers in reforming their behavior, or seeking help for their addiction, and in protecting clients against lawyer misconduct. This tension has ramifications for the programs and rules bar organizations may wish to institute, for the principles that should govern administrators of lawyer assistance and bar disciplinary programs, and for the emphasis bar associations may wish to adopt for their activities. The goal of this brief comment is to identify a few of the issues that each state and local bar association should address before reaching any conclusions regarding the appropriateness of particular forms of lawyer assistance.

Keywords: drugs, alcohol, lawyer assistance, LAP

JEL Classification: K10

Suggested Citation

Zacharias, Fred C., A Word of Caution for Lawyer Assistance Programming. Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, Vol. 18, p. 237, 2004; San Diego Legal Studies Paper No. 07-05. Available at SSRN:

Fred C. Zacharias (Contact Author)

University of San Diego School of Law

5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110-2492
United States

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