Mission & History

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The LAP’s mission is to help lawyers, judges and law students access confidential mental health, addiction and well-being resources when they need them. The LAP staff and volunteers conduct outreach to raise awareness, provide a connection to well-being resources, and protect the public by helping members of the D.C. Bar maintain their mental health and level of professional integrity.

In June 1981 the D.C. Bar Board of Governors established the Special Committee on Alcohol Abuse, a nine-member committee created to develop and implement a program to assist lawyers struggling with alcohol use disorders. The committee began by reviewing similar programs already operating in many other jurisdictions. Following this review, the Special Committee on Alcohol Abuse recommended the creation of a nonprofit charitable corporation to assist lawyers licensed in D.C. with accessing treatment for substance use disorders. The nonprofit charitable corporation, called APAL, Inc. (“APAL”) which stood for Assistance Program for Alcoholism among Lawyers, was staffed by APAL volunteers who worked to help lawyers struggling with alcohol-related problems find treatment and support.

In 1985 the Board of Governors approved the creation of the D.C. Bar’s own program to offer a broader array of services to more individuals. The target population included members of the D.C. Bar, judges in the D.C. courts, and law students enrolled in D.C. law schools. The Lawyer Counseling Program (“LCP”) and the Lawyer Counseling Committee (“LCC”) were created to replace APAL. The LCP was modeled on employee assistance programs which were increasingly being adopted by private and public sector employers in order to respond to the needs of their employees. The LCC continued to recruit volunteers to offer support and guidance to LCP clients.

In the spring of 2007, at the request of the LCP and the LCC, the Board of Governors voted to change the name of the LCP and the LCC to their current names: the Lawyer Assistance Program and the Lawyer Assistance Committee.

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