What is the California State Bar's Lawyer Assistance Program (LAP)?
What is the California State Bar's Alternative Discipline Program (ADP)?
How are the two programs related?
If you have been charged with ethical violations in State Bar Court, how can entering LAP and ADP affect your possible discipline in State Bar Court?
Before we get into these questions and answers, although some people have problems with LAP and ADP as it relates to their costs etc., I will not be addressing that here. What I can tell you though is that my interaction, on behalf of my clients, with employees that work in LAP, have always been positive.
Further I believe the employees that work in LAP seem to genuinely care about what they are doing and that is reflective of the program over all.
Also, in my capacity as 1st Vice President of the Association of Discipline Defense Counsel (ADDC) (http://disciplinedefensecounsel.org/), I am a liaison between our discipline defense organization and the California State Bar LAP committee. This informal State Bar committee meets periodically and will discuss LAP/ADP issues, how to improve those programs, and anything else we think may further the LAP mission.
This informal committee is made up of one ADDC member, myself, a California State Bar Judge, a California Deputy Trial Counsel, and LAP employees.
LAP helps lawyers and applicants to the State Bar who are dealing with substance abuse issues. However, LAP also can be helpful for those going through stress, depression, various forms of anxiety, and any other concerns one might have. Participation is confidential as mandated by Business and Professions Code §6234.
ADP on the other hand is the program that you will be going through if 1) you currently have charges pending in State Bar Court and 2) you get accepted into LAP.
If while you are going through pre-trial in State Bar Court, and we prove that you are a viable candidate for ADP, then not only will you be getting great personal help through LAP, but also there is a possibility that the discipline you receive can be less than it would have been if you went through the normal State Bar Court discipline process.
There is a lot more to this process, way too much to discuss here, but the important thing to know is that we have the burden of proving that you are a viable candidate for ADP and concurrently get accepted to LAP.
Also, if you do end up being a viable candidate for ADP then your participation in LAP will be monitored by the Office of Chief Trial Counsel and the State Bar Court. From my standpoint as your defense counsel, your want and acceptance into ADP/LAP could help me possibly get you lower discipline but it is big undertaking for you and I.
You should not consider this route unless: 1) you truly need the help; 2) you are prepared to adhere to the demands placed on you by ADP. This can include weekly meetings and random drug tests in some instances.
All in all, I think California's foot forward in this area is a valuable resource for us lawyers who deal with a very demanding profession.
If you currently have State Bar charges pending against you and you think you are a viable candidate for ADP/LAP, then call me or any of the other defense counsel that specialize in California State Bar defense.
You can also contact Douglas Hull, Director of LAP at the California State Bar in the Lawyer Assistance Program at 877-LAP-4HELP (877-527-4435), or email [email protected].