The State Bar of Texas’ Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program has taken the innovative step of adding a sitting judge to its staff of experts to reach out to fellow jurists about issues such as stress, burnout, compassion fatigue, and other mental health matters.
The Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program (TLAP) has always served judges as well as lawyers and law students, but TLAP Director Bree Buchanan notes that less than 1 percent of the annual calls received by the program come from judges.
Buchanan is confident that the addition of Judge Edward J. Spillane III, a former member of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct and frequent speaker at judicial education conferences, can help TLAP reach out to the judiciary about behavioral health issues. Judge Spillane will work with TLAP as an independent contractor.
“We’re excited to have Judge Spillane’s help in carrying the message to our Texas judiciary that TLAP is available for them, whether to provide confidential assistance for themselves or to assist an impaired lawyer in their court,” Buchanan said.
Judge Spillane has been the presiding municipal judge for College Station since 2002. He received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and his J.D. from the University of Chicago.
He has written several articles on the plight of indigent defendants and the benefits of mindfulness in the courtroom. In his position with TLAP, he will focus on outreach to the judiciary on topics such as prevention of substance use, mental health disorders, cognitive impairment, burnout and compassion fatigue, as well as strategies for the promotion of well-being.
Read the full news release here.