The staff and volunteers of the Lawyers and Judges Assistance Program can meet attorneys "where they are" no matter the circumstances. Whether the attorney has been ordered or otherwise directed to contact The Lawyers and Judges Assistance Program or they have made the choice to contact the program on their own, the first step is to meet and discuss the current situation. These meetings can occur in The Lawyers and Judges Assistance Program office, but frequently they occur elsewhere; in the attorney's office or home, a friend or local volunteer's office, in a coffee shop, or in some other location where the attorney feels safe to discuss their situation.
For more than twenty-five years, The Mississippi Bar has sought to provide assistance for attorneys, judges, and law students, who may be suffering with addictions and other behavioral/mental illness. The Lawyers and Judges Assistance Program (hereinafter "LJA Program") provides education (individually and corporately), assessment, referral, monitoring, and facilitates limited treatment services.
LJA PROGRAM SERVICES ARE CONFIDENTIAL.
LJA PROGRAM SERVICES ARE VOLUNTARY.
THE LJA PROGRAM IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH ANY DISCIPLINARY AUTHORITY.
LJA PROGRAM STAFF AND VOLUNTEERS ARE NOT MANDATED TO REPORT POSSIBLE ETHICAL INFRACTIONS DISCOVERED OR DISCLOSED DURING THE COURSE OF ASSISTING OTHER ATTORNEYS.
Attorneys, judges, law students (hereafter "clients") may be introduced to the services of the LJA Program in one of more of the following ways:
• Self - referral
• Colleague referral
• Family referral
• Firm / Employer referral
• Office of General Counsel /Complaint (Discipline) referral or Order
• Judicial / Administrative referral
Self - Referral:
The concerned Attorney/Judge has come to be aware of the services of the LJA Program, and contacts the program or one of its volunteers or supporters. Generally, the Attorney/Judge is invited to share their concerns in a face to face meeting with LJA Program staff or volunteer, or by phone if schedules and/or distance make such necessary. Once the Attorney/Judge speaks with LJA Program staff, and the LJA Program staff has gathered sufficient information, a recommendation will be made. Said recommendations may include, but are not limited to:
• Professional assessment; consultation; recommendations
• Referral for independent third party evaluation to determine appropriate level of care for substance abuse/dependence or mental/emotional disturbance
• Referral for admission to inpatient / residential treatment for substance abuse/dependence or mental/emotional disturbance
• Referral for admission to intensive outpatient treatment / partial hospitalization for substance abuse/dependence or mental/emotional disturbance
• Referral for outpatient psychiatric or psychological evaluation
• Referral for medication management or other ongoing psychological services
• Referral for outpatient counseling
• Referral to 12 Step or other support groups
• Other referrals (professional and/or paraprofessional) as are appropriate under the facts and circumstances
If circumstances warrant, and the client wishes, LJA Program staff and volunteers will assist in making contact with providers or key persons the Attorney/Judge may contact. LJA Program staff will likely ask the Attorney/Judge to execute a release of information to facilitate this process. If the Attorney/Judge has entered into a monitoring agreement with the LJA Program, such a release is part of the agreement. If the recommendation is for an evaluation, and the LJA Program is provided with the results, additional recommendations may be made. These may include inter alia one or several of those listed above. If the Attorney/Judge has entered into a monitoring agreement with the LJA Program, the recommendations of the treatment provider and subsequent recommendations of the LJA Program are incorporated therein.
As circumstances warrant, a client may be encouraged to enter into a monitoring agreement with the LJA Program
Many potential clients come to the attention of LJA Program staff and volunteers as the result of someone else contacting LJA Program. These may include, but are not limited to: courts, disciplinary entities, employers, colleagues, and family members.
When LJA Program staff or volunteers are contacted:
They will take the information offered;
They may ask follow up questions;
They will ask the person who contacted them whether or not they wish to be involved in subsequent steps that may or may not be taken, and whether or not they wish to remain anonymous.
If the information is initially given to a volunteer, he/she will pass along the information to the LJAP staff (assuming authorization to do so by the person who gave it to them)
As information is received, the LJA Program staff and volunteers will assess what is needed. In many cases, staff and volunteers will do further confidential investigation to inform what, if any next steps should be taken. Staff and volunteers will speak to others who may have additional information about or may be in a position of influence with the potential client in question.
When sufficient information is gathered, the LJA Program staff and volunteers will take such actions as are appropriate to the circumstances at hand. Once a potential client is involved with LJA Program, the steps generally follow as above.