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The Supreme Court Announced Approved Changes in the New Jersey Lawyers Assistance Program

For release: August 23, 1999
Contact: Robert Seidenstein

The Supreme Court announced today that it has approved changes in the New Jersey Lawyers Assistance Program, which provides confidential help to lawyers with alcohol, drug abuse and gambling problems.

The program had been administered and funded by the New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA). It will now be funded by an annual assessment -- as yet undetermined -- on all members of the bar. The NJSBA will run the program as an independent contractor.

The program will be overseen by a board of trustees, with seven of its nine members appointed by the Supreme Court. The other two members will be bar officials.

The Court said that the new board of trustees should investigate whether the program should be expanded to include a mental-health component. The board also is to report to the Court annually on the status of the program. The NJSBA is to present to the board a proposed budget. The board is to review the proposed budget and submit it to the Supreme Court for its approval. The NJSBA is to be reimbursed for running the program from the annual assessment on the state's lawyers. All lawyers -- not just members of the NJSBA -- may use the program.

The program was founded by the NJSBA in 1993. Under it, lawyers with alcohol, drug abuse and gambling problems can reach out for assistance on a confidential basis. Among other services, the program provides:

  • A 24-hour telephone hotline;
  • Consultation and evaluation by staff specialists;
  • Referral to appropriate resources;

  • Client follow-up concentrating on relapse prevention;
  • Introduction to a network of recovered attorney peer counselors;
  • Coordination of volunteer attorneys who can help maintain a law practice in situations where short-term assistance is needed.

The program is free. For lawyers needing assistance, there is a toll-free telephone number: 800-24NJLAP (800-246-5527).

NOTE: The Supreme Court's Notice to the Bar regarding the changes to the program and the new court rules covering the program are attached. Also attached are the Supplemental Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Lawyers Assistance Program Funding and the Proposed Agreement for Services, which will form the basis of the contract that the NJSBA and the Supreme Court will sign regarding the progam.

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