Bar College offers financial assistance to help Texas lawyers

Every day, Texas attorneys work to ensure that their clients’ voices are heard and justice prevails. The toll of a demanding profession can leave many attorneys feeling exhausted, burnt out, and burdened by stress.

Last year alone, the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program, or TLAP, received more than 500 calls from lawyers seeking help for themselves or a colleague with substance abuse or mental health issues.

“When individual attorneys are faced with challenges, the impact is felt by our profession as a whole,” said Veronica Jacobs, board of directors chair of the Texas Bar College. “If our profession is affected, the public we serve will be affected. It is imperative that we address these issues and provide the assistance needed to uphold the high standards of our profession.”

Oftentimes, lawyers come to TLAP with depleted personal and financial resources, presenting a significant challenge to starting treatment. Understanding this need, the Texas Bar College has pledged to provide $30,000 in funding for the Patrick Sheeran & Michael J. Crowley Memorial Trust, an independent entity designed to help Texas attorneys and their families affected by substance dependence or mental disorders by paying for treatment. The trust works in partnership with TLAP in providing critical assistance to lawyers who cannot otherwise afford services.
 

 

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Registration open for Texas Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers Convention

The 26th Annual Texas Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers Convention will be held June 5-7 at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel at the Campbell Centre in Dallas. Texas Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers, a volunteer group for lawyers in recovery, works in partnership with the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program of the State Bar of Texas.

The conference will feature nationally acclaimed speakers on 12-step recovery along with topics pertaining to professional burnout, peer support, cross addiction, spirituality in recovery, and practicing the principles of recovery in the practice of law.

Take advantage of the early bird registration rate of $225 till May 1. Scholarships are available. The price includes the cost of CLE programming, a Friday night ice cream social, a Saturday night banquet, a Sunday brunch, early morning yoga, and access to the hospitality suite.

 

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Stories of Recovery: Guiding hands and kind words

Editor’s note: This is the 10th story in our Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program “Stories of Recovery” series, featuring attorneys in their own words on how they overcame mental health or substance abuse problems. The State Bar’s TLAP program offers confidential assistance for lawyers, law students, and judges with substance abuse or mental health issues. Call TLAP at 1-800-343-8527, and find more information at texasbar.com/TLAP.

Let’s be honest. I am not grateful that I am an alcoholic. I did not go to law school with the goal of being a middle-aged probate lawyer with a drinking problem.

I am eternally grateful for the programs that are available to lawyers who want help. There are wonderful 12 step programs, AA being my favorite. There are also more focused groups for lawyers and accountants, but the bottom line: whether we're a judge, a truck driver, or the general counsel, we are all the same.

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HNBA conference equips attendees with tools, discusses diversity, attorney well-being

SAN ANTONIO — Attorneys and legal professionals met to discuss helpful resources and topics including diversity and lawyers’ health at the Hispanic National Bar Association’s sixth annual Corporate Counsel Conference and 20th annual Uvaldo Herrera Moot Court Competition.

The conference was held March 18-21 at the San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter.

The HNBA Latina Commission hosted a plenary session on how Latinas can address gender bias in the legal profession.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Latinas represent approximately 0.54 percent of partners in U.S. law firms, behind African-American women, at 0.6 percent; Asian women, at 0.91 percent; and white women, at 18 percent, according to statistics from the National Association for Law Placement. The panel discussed reasons why gender bias still exists, potential avenues for reform, and how to empower women to achieve their potential.

The conference also focused on the health and mental wellness of minority attorneys. State Bar of Texas President-elect Allan K. DuBois and Bree Buchanan, executive director of the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program, shared their personal stories and the importance of achieving success without compromising well-being.

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Stories of Recovery: Finding a path to joyful practice

Editor’s note: This is the ninth story in our Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program “Stories of Recovery” series, featuring attorneys in their own words on how they overcame mental health or substance abuse problems. The State Bar’s TLAP program offers confidential assistance for lawyers, law students, and judges with substance abuse or mental health issues. Call TLAP at 1-800-343-8527, and find more information at texasbar.com/TLAP.

When I started practicing law, I was anxious, petrified, depressed, terrified — you name it.

After a couple of years, I decided I needed some help, so I sought out a business coach. She taught me to improve my performance, but more than that she taught me to eat right, exercise, meditate, and take care of myself for the long haul of a career.

I plunged back into law practice, working on eating better, losing weight, exercising, and meditating, and somehow, I managed to survive it. After a couple more years, the work really started to click. Issues began to be more familiar; cases became more routine. I didn’t have to think so hard for each document or appearance.
 

 

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Hispanic National Bar to host conference, moot court event in San Antonio

The Hispanic National Bar Association will host its sixth annual Corporate Counsel Conference and 20th annual Uvaldo Herrera Moot Court Competition on March 18-21 at the San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter.

The program is designed to provide attorneys, judges, and law students networking opportunities, workshops, and information on continuing legal education topics led by national experts.

State Bar of Texas President-elect Allan K. DuBois of San Antonio and Bree Buchanan, director of the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program of the State Bar of Texas, will speak at a March 20 plenary session on achieving success without compromising your health in a demanding legal environment. The discussion will focus on the importance of life-balance issues and how personal neglect, mental health, and substance abuse affect the legal community.

 

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New Voices of Recovery podcast now available

The latest episode of the Voices of Recovery podcast is now available.

In Episode 4, “No More Secrets,” a Texas lawyer tells of her struggles to achieve and maintain sobriety in spite of life’s worst challenges.

The Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program, part of the State Bar of Texas, created the podcast to let bar members know that help is available and recovery is possible.

Each episode features an in-depth interview with a Texas attorney, judge, or law student about their struggles with substance abuse or mental health issues. The guests remain anonymous to protect their privacy.

Find Voices of Recovery on the TLAP Web page or on iTunes

From dread to hope: How I confronted my drinking problem

Editor’s note: This is the eighth story in our Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program “Stories of Recovery” series, featuring attorneys in their own words on how they have overcome mental health or substance abuse problems. The State Bar’s TLAP program offers confidential assistance for lawyers, law students, and judges with substance abuse or mental health issues. Call us at 1-800-343-8527, and find more information at texasbar.com/TLAP.

Law school made me an alcoholic. Or, to be fair to law school, it was during law school that I crossed over to alcoholism.

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Stories of Recovery: Roller coaster ride of perfection

Editor’s note: This is the seventh story in our Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program “Stories of Recovery” series, featuring attorneys in their own words on how they have overcome mental health or substance abuse problems. The State Bar’s TLAP program offers confidential assistance for lawyers, law students, and judges with substance abuse or mental health issues. Call us at 1-800-343-8527, and find more information at texasbar.com/TLAP.

I’ve been given the precious gift of life three times; when I was born, when I got sober, and when I finally overcome an eating disorder.

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Tom Keyser: The Living Years

The following article originally appeared in San Antonio Lawyer magazine and is reprinted with permission from San Antonio Lawyer and the San Antonio Bar Association.

By Steve Peirce

Tom Keyser stood on a chair in the gym of his rented townhouse, a rope tied around his neck. He once was a Catholic school kid from Cumberland, Maryland, who had shown such promise as a baseball player that he was drafted in 1967 by the Baltimore Orioles, and now he was a father of three who had lost his marriage and his home, and was about to lose his law license. All he had to do was take one small step and the pain would be over, but he lost his nerve. It was the Summer of 1990.

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Stories of Recovery: Solving the problem of me

“Lately it occurs to me — What a long strange trip it’s been.” — The Grateful Dead

Editor’s note: This is the sixth story in our Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program "Stories of Recovery" series, featuring attorneys in their own words on how they have overcome mental health or substance abuse problems. The State Bar’s TLAP program offers confidential assistance for lawyers, law students, and judges with substance abuse or mental health issues. Call us at 1-800-343-8527, and find more information at texasbar.com/TLAP.

I first started using drugs when I was 12. I always felt like I was different from other people and I couldn’t understand why. 

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Stories of Recovery: Living life on life's terms

Editor’s note: This is the sixth story in our Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program “Stories of Recovery” series, featuring attorneys in their own words on how they have overcome mental health or substance abuse problems. The State Bar’s TLAP program offers confidential assistance for lawyers, law students, and judges with substance abuse or mental health issues. Call TLAP at 1-800-343-8527, and find more information at texasbar.com/TLAP.

The first time I got intentionally drunk was on May 26, 1972. I was 12 years old and woke up that morning to find that my father had died during the night. By that afternoon I had dipped into Dad’s liquor cabinet and I was drunk. For some reason I instinctively knew that alcohol was the balm for the pain that I thought was going to kill me. Please understand that I am not an alcoholic because my father died. Rather, what this illustrates is that alcohol was not my problem, it was my solution—to everything—and THAT was the problem.
 

 

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Stories of Recovery: On the brink of suicide, I found new hope

Editor’s note: This is the fifth story in our Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program “Stories of Recovery” series, featuring attorneys in their own words on how they have overcome mental health or substance abuse problems. The State Bar’s TLAP program offers confidential assistance for lawyers, law students, and judges with substance abuse or mental health issues. Call us at 1-800-343-8527, and find more information at texasbar.com/TLAP.

I could not open my eyes. I could hear someone calling my name but I didn’t recognize the voice. I let myself drift back into unconsciousness.

The next time I woke up, I was alone except for the machines that whirred and beeped around me. I tried to take a deep breath but couldn’t. Tubes pumped oxygen into my lungs and my arms were strapped down to the bed. The instinct to panic was overwhelming. Then, a nurse appeared at my side. Smiling, she informed me that my family was in the waiting room. I didn’t want to see them because I was so ashamed. How could I have wound up like this?

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Stories of Recovery: How I made it

Editor’s note: This is the fourth story in our Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program "Stories of Recovery" series, featuring attorneys in their own words on how they have overcome mental health or substance abuse problems. The State Bar's TLAP program offers confidential assistance for lawyers, law students, and judges with substance abuse or mental health issues. Call us at 1-800-343-8527, and find more information at texasbar.com/TLAP.

Even as a kid I identified with that cartoon character who walked around with a little black cloud over his head. I was depressed and life was depressing. So much so that I clearly needed help—and was lucky enough to be sent for counseling early in my life.

I learned that it was not my life circumstances, but my ability to cope with life. And that I had to take responsibility for dealing with the depression. So, I have for most of my life since I was in college had a counselor, a paid counselor. You can’t talk about this stuff just to friends. They’re not equipped. Every counselor has been wise—a reality check—and loving.

 

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Stories of Recovery: Turning things around after depression

Editor’s note: This is the third story in our Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program "Stories of Recovery" series, featuring attorneys in their own words on how they have overcome mental health or substance abuse problems. The State Bar's TLAP program offers confidential assistance for lawyers, law students, and judges with substance abuse or mental health issues. Call us at 1-800-343-8527, and find more information at texasbar.com/TLAP.

I am so grateful that my life is headed in a positive direction. Actually, it has been headed in that direction for a few years, slowly, one day at a time, but it took a while for me to get some real traction.

For years I have struggled with depression. It became so bad it destroyed relationships and ended my legal career as a practicing lawyer, or so I thought. I had tried various methods and sought help from time to time, but that hopeless feeling just seemed to get stronger and stronger. When things really got bad, I was desperate enough to listen seriously to suggestions for help, and to take small actions over time.
 

 

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Attorneys to share stories of recovery on new podcast

A new monthly podcast will feature Texas attorneys’ personal stories of fighting and overcoming problems with substance abuse and mental health issues.

The Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program, part of the State Bar of Texas, created the Voices of Recovery podcast as a way to let bar members know that help is available and recovery is possible, said Bree Buchanan, TLAP director.

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Stories of Recovery: A cautionary tale

Editor’s note: This is the second story in our Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program "Stories of Recovery" series, featuring attorneys in their own words on how they have overcome mental health or substance abuse problems. The State Bar's TLAP program offers confidential assistance for lawyers, law students, and judges with substance abuse or mental health issues. Call us at 1-800-343-8527, and find more information at texasbar.com/TLAP.

This is a cautionary tale. A story of denial, of toughing it out at any cost, and of what that cost might be. But it is a cautionary tale with a hopeful ending.

 

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Stories of Recovery: A 'drowning man' finds hope

Editor’s note: This is the first story in our Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program “Stories of Recovery” series, featuring attorneys in their own words on how they have overcome mental health or substance abuse problems. The State Bar’s TLAP program offers confidential assistance for lawyers, law students, and judges with substance abuse or mental health issues. Call us at 1-800-343-8527 and find more information at texasbar.com/TLAP.

Like a drowning man, I was going down for the last time. Suffering from the mental illness known as depression, I had 20 years of ongoing psychiatric care under my belt. I had taken every medication in the book, and, together with psychotherapy, they had kept me afloat, functioning and outwardly successful. But this time was different, and I knew I was beyond help. The pain and misery were too much to endure and I was ready to take my own life, despite my doctor’s oft-repeated counsel that suicide was a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

 

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Take steps to prevent holiday depression

It has begun. The final remnants of the Thanksgiving meal have been discarded. Packages from Black Friday and Cyber Monday sit on your couch or kitchen table waiting to be wrapped. Invitations to open houses and holiday parties are coming in the mail. Christmas concerts at school and church are populating the calendar. Yes, the holidays are back again!

For lawyers, the innumerable additional tasks and responsibilities of this time of year are heaped on top of the demands of clients, courts and opposing counsel. Time, energy and, for many, enthusiasm are in short supply.  Stress, anxiety and persistent feelings of “I’m not doing enough” all feed into the experience of depression that affects so many of us during the holidays.

Here are a few suggestions on creating a shift in your approach to the seemingly insatiable demands of this time of year:

  • Set your priorities for the holidays. Take a moment to determine the most important thing for you to do or experience before returning to life and work “as usual” in January. Break this goal down into discrete tasks and put those on your calendar. Or, write your top priority down and put it on your computer, the frame of your office door, on your dashboard, etc.  For instance, if your goal is “spending more time with the kids,” consider your decisions regarding what you do and what you decline in light of that goal.
  • Say “no” to non-essential tasks and events that conflict with that priority. If you don’t have the power to decline, try postponing until after Jan. 1 when possible.
  • Commit to taking care of yourself.  Don’t let exercise fall by the wayside. Do focus on healthy, not heavy, foods. Predetermine how much alcohol you will drink at events and stick to that commitment so you don’t waste time with a hangover or ruin goodwill over offensive behavior.

If stress, anxiety or depression become too much for you over the course of the holidays, give yourself a “time out.” Push back from the desk and take a walk outside. Try to determine the root cause of your distress and, if possible, modify the situation. Enlist the help of those around you in making your situation better.

Remember that the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program is here for you. We can help you identify the cause of your distress and come up with a plan for addressing it in a healthy manner.  Call 1-800-343-8527. All communications are strictly confidential.

Bree Buchanan, J.D., Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program.

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