Hannah Vogt

January 2020

What Does A WVJLAP Volunteer Do?

Why would someone want to volunteer?

  • because of personal or professional experience with disability, depression, addiction, stress, anxiety or work/life balance issues
  • to have a deeper impact on their role within the legal community
  • to help a peer, partner, colleague, friend or family member
  • to be part of a team
  • to network with others
  • to give back
  • just for fun & fellowship!

Qualifications to be a Volunteer:

  • willingness to share your own experience as appropriate
  • willingness to set aside the time needed
  • stable in your own recovery from physical disability, addiction, mental or emotional health issues (if applicable)

Some ways for volunteers to get involved:

Interventions. With WVJLAP guidance, volunteers are often asked to participate in interventions. An intervention is defined as “presenting reality to a person out of touch with it in a receivable way.” (Intervention, Vernon E. Johnson, p 61). The overall objective of an intervention is to help a person to see how his/her self-destructive behavior affects themselves and others. While sometimes the volunteer may know the person being intervened upon, it is not always necessary. A volunteer can share their “experience, strength and hope” with anyone who might be in need of support.

Outreach. Getting the word out! Outreach opportunities can be as simple as talking about WVJLAP at legal functions to sharing about WVJLAP with concerned parties or a peer, partner or colleague in need of services.

Peer Monitoring. WVJLAP sometimes monitors clients for the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, the Board of Law Examiners, Courts, law schools and firms. Monitoring Agreements are written contracts wherein a client agrees to certain measurable activities in order to maintain and document their mental/emotional health and/or commitment to a personal program of recovery. It is the client’s job to call the Monitor once a week and to schedule a face-to-face meeting with the Monitor once a month. The Monitor is required to file a monthly report with the WVJLAP office.

The Monitor is not a 12-step sponsor and is not expected to insure that Client complies with the contract conditions. To act as the Monitored client’s sponsor obviously would set up a conflict if the Monitored attorney has a substance abuse or behavioral relapse. While a Monitor may attend some 12-step or support group meetings with the client, it is recommended that the Monitor not attend all of the meetings of the Monitored attorney. This allows the Monitored client to feel free to participate fully and will provide the client with the most value from a meeting.

Monitors are expected to immediately report all client non-compliance issues in accordance with the conditions of the client’s WVJLAP Monitoring Agreement. When behavioral relapse or drug/alcohol use is suspected, a Monitor may suggest drug screens by notifying the WVJLAP office.

A Monitor is never to act as legal counsel for any WVJLAP participant that they are Monitoring, but may appear on behalf of a Monitored client as a witness after consulting the WVJLAP Director.

Responsibilities of the Monitor:

  • Meet with the client by scheduled appointment on a monthly basis, and file a monthly progress report with WVJLAP whether the meeting was held or not.
  • Regularly review the Monitoring Agreement requirements and monthly calendar with the client.
  • Discuss and Report any difficulties the client is having.
  • Act as a mental health or sobriety mentor as it relates to the practice of law.
  • Participate in any intervention for noncompliance.

“I volunteered as a Peer Monitor for several years working with attorneys in recovery who were under contract with the WVJLAP.  It was a very rewarding experience.  I am certain that I got more out of it than those that I monitored.  I know that I experienced more gratitude, peace and serenity in my life because of the work I was doing with WVJLAP.”

Public speaking. Education of the bench and bar is a primary mission of WVJLAP. Volunteers are asked to speak at bar functions, CLE programs, law firms, conferences and law schools. Volunteers may also be asked to write articles or stories for publication in state or local bar journals and other print media. Although sharing a personal story is often an asset, it is never required. Anonymity and confidentiality is respected with volunteers as well as clients.

“I had the opportunity to travel around state and speak to different groups about the great work that WVJLAP is doing.  I spoke to public defenders, district attorneys, the private defense bar, judges, and even law students.  The programs were always well received.  You could tell that people know how important the work of WVJLAP is because inevitably several people would come up after the speaking engagement to talk privately.  They might have a question or maybe a concern about a friend or colleague.  Maybe even some of them had a concern about themselves.  Doing this type of work was very fulfilling.”

Fundraising. Members of the legal profession have demonstrated above average rates of chemical dependency and mental health issues. Unfortunately, by the time an attorney makes the decision to enter treatment for any of these issues, he or she is rarely financially postured to pay for the treatment. Fundraising is a unique and meaningful way to invest in the profession by helping fellow attorneys in need.

FUN. WVJLAP will host social events across the state, a yearly retreat, and more.

While WVJLAP may ask for your help, you are free to accept or decline any request.

For more information on becoming a WVJLAP Peer Volunteer, contact us at (304) 553-7232.  

Hannah Vogt

Fall 2019

        LapQuest               

The Perfect Addict  

From childhood to adulthood, this attorney suffered with the disease of addiction. With the implementation of a 12-step program and admitting that he was powerless over his substance abuse issue, he was able to develop a better way of living.  He stayed focused, worked hard, and asked for a second chance from other legal professionals. Today this attorney is successful with his employment, and most importantly is also living happy joyous and free.

Read More

 

ABA Anti-Stigma Campaign

Stigma, shame, and fear. These obstacles frequently play a major role in an individual’s decision not to seek help when suffering from mental health and substance use disorders. Too often, lawyers, judges, and law students find themselves wrestling privately with frustration and despair as an addiction or mental health problem dominates their life and threatens their career.  To raise awareness about the nature of addiction and mental health distress in our profession and to challenge the biases and stigma that surround those problems, the ABA’s Commission on Lawyers Assistance Programs (CoLAP) created a profession-wide anti-stigma campaign that will feature a series of videos highlighting the personal recovery stories of lawyers, judges, and law students who have overcome these issues. These videos send the message that recovery from addiction and mental health problems is entirely possible for legal professionals. Our goal is to ensure that fewer of our colleagues face these challenges alone.

Watch Video

 

Emotional Sobriety by Bill Wilson

Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous wrote about emotional sobriety in a letter he sent to a depressed friend in 1956.  This letter was eventually published in The Grapevine in 1958 titled “Emotional Sobriety: The Next Frontier.”

Read Letter

 

Law Firm/Organization Impairment Policy

In 2019, the Policy Committee of the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP) and the ABA Working Group to Advance Well-Being in the Legal Profession developed this template to provide suggested guidelines to legal employers for responding to an employee who is experiencing impairment due to a substance use disorder, mental health disorder or cognitive impairment.

Read Policy

 

 

 

 

 

Hannah Vogt

June 2019

Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” 
― Abraham Lincoln

An unexamined life is not worth living.”  —— Socrates

“True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing.”  — Socrates

“I’m a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn’t have the heart to let him down.”
― Abraham Lincoln

Hannah Vogt

Summer 2019

 

Crossing Over

Successful in every respect, this lawyer managed his drinking for years.  When the imaginary line was crossed and his drinking became unmanageable, he sought help through WVJLAP before facing major consequences.  The unexpected results of his recovery became a priceless gift. Read More

Only a Cultural Shift Can Improve Substance Abuse and Mental Health Problems in the Legal Profession

Read Article

Resilience in the Practice of Law

I grew up in a perfect family. I was trained to be a perfect lawyer. As a young attorney, I worked with perfect people in a perfectionist culture. Mistakes were not tolerated. Showing
emotions was unheard of. And seeking support was a sign of weakness. After years of trying to live up to an unattainable “perfect me,” the strain began to take a toll on my physical and
mental health. This was the turning point. I needed to make a change, so I began a new journey to improved well-being. A shift within me and events that followed led to profound
improvements in my job satisfaction, performance, and personal health. Read Article

New Well-Being Template for Legal Employers

The ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP) and the ABA Working Group to Advance Well-Being in the Legal Profession developed this template to provide suggested guidelines to legal employers for responding to an employee who is experiencing impairment due to a substance use disorder, mental health disorder or cognitive impairment. Read Report

 You’re in a pickle.  Can a lawyer assistance program help?

Bree Buchanan discusses how lawyer assistance programs work, and how a person can reach out for assistance. Listen to Podcast

Hannah Vogt

May 2019

On-line registration for the ABA 2019 National Conference for Lawyer
Assistance Programs being held on September 24-26, 2019 at the Hilton
Austin Downtown in Austin, Texas is now open!
Information regarding attendee registration may be found at,
If you are interested in Sponsorship opportunities or registering as an
Exhibitor, information may be found at,
To reserve a room at the Hilton Austin Hotel, visit:

 https://book.passkey.com/go/AmericanBarAssnCoLAP

To book by phone, call 512-482-8000 and mention “ABA National CoLAP/ILAA
Conference

Important conference dates are listed below and can be found on the
website.
Key 2019 Conference Dates
August 3, 2019 – Early Registration Deadline
August 26, 2019 – Last day to obtain negotiated room rate or until block
is sold-out, whichever comes first
September 4, 2019 – Advance/Online Registration Closes
September 5, 2019 until Conference – Onsite Registration Only
September 11, 2019 – Conference Cancellation Deadline (refer to policy for
details)
Please feel free to pass this information along to anyone who may be
interested in attending the 2019 National Conference.
For more information, please contact Amber Hanna at [email protected]