Frequently Asked Questions

What is Lawyers Helping Lawyers?

The Lawyers Helping Lawyers Program was organized in 1985 to provide confidential, non-disciplinary assistance to members of the legal profession in Virginia who experience professional impairment as a result of substance abuse. This help comes from professional staff and a statewide network of volunteers. Lawyers Helping Lawyers is a Virginia non-stock corporation endorsed by the Virginia State Bar, The Virginia Bar Association, the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association and the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners. In the fall of 2003, Lawyers Helping Lawyers began providing help to members of the legal profession impaired by mental health problems.

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What does Lawyers Helping Lawyers do?

Lawyers Helping Lawyers provides a collection of highly effective services tailored to meet the needs of each individual client. We assist in verifying a problem, planning and implementing interventions, providing treatment referrals, conducting assessments, offering peer support for clients and counseling for families, establishing and monitoring rehabilitation contracts and presenting statewide educational programs.

Assistance may take many forms, such as assessment, professional consultation, information about and referral to treatment resources, informal and formal interventions, and monitoring.

The good news is that lawyers, judges and others in the legal community who get help have an excellent chance of recovering.

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Does Lawyers Helping Lawyers involve disciplinary action?

No. The founders of this program decided early on that it should not and could not be an arm or a substitute for the function of Virginia State Bar disciplinary committees. A goal of the program is to help the impaired lawyer before a situation reaches the point of becoming a disciplinary matter for the Virginia State Bar.

Lawyers Helping Lawyers provides free, confidential, non-disciplinary assistance to attorneys, judges, law students, bar applicants and others in the legal profession and their families with problems related to mental health and substance abuse. We strive to provide help before a situation becomes a disciplinary matter.

Although it is not a part of the Virginia State Bar’s disciplinary system, Lawyers Helping Lawyers accepts referrals from the Virginia State Bar that occur as a part of the disciplinary process.

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Is consultation confidential?

Yes. The program is designed to be confidential so that fellow lawyers, judges, family or friends can refer a lawyer with suspected impairment to the program without fear that the referral will be reported to the disciplinary system. The amendment to Rule 8.3 (d) adopted by the Virginia Supreme Court, effective 1/1/2000, equates the intervenor/impaired lawyer to the relationship of lawyer/client in the Lawyers Helping Lawyers Program so that matters learned or developed in the course of the program will have the same privilege as exists in any lawyer/client relationship. In addition, lawyer-volunteers are exempt from the Virginia State Bar’s requirement to report lawyer misconduct, when they are performing authorized activities of the Lawyers Helping Lawyers Program.

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How does Lawyers Helping Lawyers work?

Calls can be made 24 hours a day to 1-877-LHL IN VA (877-545-4682) or to (804) 644-3212. The Executive Director and a statewide network of volunteers respond to referrals and develop an action plan that best fits each unique situation. They work to verify the problem and assist the person into whatever support and treatment is needed.

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I’d like to learn more. Does Lawyers Helping Lawyers offer educational services?

Yes. Lawyers Helping Lawyers offers educational services to help all members of the legal community understand the impact of alcoholism, drug addiction and mental health disorders upon the legal profession as well as to increase awareness of who we are and how we can help.

Education can help remove barriers that hamper recognition of problems and steps toward recovery. Lawyers Helping Lawyers provides education to firms, local bar groups, judges, legal assistance groups, legal secretaries, and other related organizations. We hope that education will prevent disciplinary problems for the lawyer, protect clients, support the lawyer’s family and professional associates, and strengthen the profession.

Programs can be standardized or specially designed for your group and are a free service to the profession. Some programs will qualify for Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits. Call the Executive Director for more information or e-mail the program at info@valhl.org.

Take a look at this video to learn a little more about us, and this one to learn about observable signs and symptoms of an impaired attorney.

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Is there a charge for any of these services?

No. Services and educational programs are free, thanks to financial support from The Virginia Bar Association, Virginia State Bar, Virginia Trial Lawyers Association, Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys, and ANLIR.

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How can I contact Lawyers Helping Lawyers?

  • For confidential assistance, call (804) 644-3212 or 1-877-LHL IN VA (877-545-4682).
  • For information about volunteering or educational services, call Executive Director Jim Leffler at (804) 644-3212.
  • Fax us at (804) 644-5510.
  • E-mail us at info@valhl.org.
  • Write us at 1015 East Main Street, Ground Floor, Richmond, VA 23219.
  • Contact any LHL Board members or volunteers directly.

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How can I support the work of Lawyers Helping Lawyers?

There are three ways—referring, volunteering, and giving.

  • If you need to refer someone for help, call us at (804) 644-3212 or 1-877-LHL IN VA (877-545-4682).
  • If you’d like to know more about becoming a Lawyers Helping Lawyers volunteer, call the Executive Director at (804) 644-3212 for details.
  • If you’d like to contribute financial support to the work of Lawyers Helping Lawyers, we welcome contributions to both the Lawyers Helping Lawyers Program and/or the Chapple Memorial Fund. Gifts to the Lawyers Helping Lawyers Program support the daily operation of the program and will be tax-deductible. Gifts to the Chapple Memorial Fund provide funding for attorneys to seek treatment for substance abuse problems and are tax-deductible. Contributions should be addressed to the group of your choice, c/o Lawyers Helping Lawyers, 1015 East Main Street, Ground Floor, Richmond, VA 23219.
    Click to Donate Online

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Are there other resources for information about lawyer assistance programs?

Every state bar supports some form of assistance for attorneys. Other resources are listed below.

ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs – http://www.americanbar.org/groups/lawyer_assistance.html
Alcoholics Anonymous – www.alcoholics-anonymous.org
National Institute on Drug Abuse – www.nida.nih.gov
Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse – www.casacolumbia.org
National Alliance for the Mentally Ill – www.nami.org

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Is Lawyers Helping Lawyers Successful?

Yes. Lawyers Helping Lawyers has been very successful in providing individualized programs to meet the needs of its clients. Over the years, the organization has provided professional assessments, planned and implemented many interventions, provided numerous treatment referrals, provided peer support and family counseling, monitored rehabilitation contracts and presented numerous educational programs around the state.

Although LHL is confidential and operates independently of the VSB disciplinary system, one indication of our effectiveness is the increasing number of referrals from the Virginia State Bar Character and Fitness Committee. LHL views these referrals as a vote of confidence. Over the years LHL has come to serve not only older, experienced and established lawyers, but also serves those much newer to the profession, including law students. Perhaps some of the best indicators of our success are the many stories from participants in our program who have overcome their problems and once again become successful and productive professionals and community leaders.

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