Law Student Assistance

law-student-assistanceThe Arkansas Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program (JLAP) was established in 2000 as a committee of the Arkansas Supreme Court. JLAP’s mission is to provide Arkansas’ judges, lawyers, and their families with methods for addressing substance abuse, stress, emotional and mental health concerns, difficulties arising from aging and disabilities, collectively, described as “impairments.”

By per curiam order of November 11, 2010, the Arkansas Supreme Court added law students to the group of individuals entitled to JLAP services. The same services available to Arkansas’ legal professionals are now available to any student enrolled at either of the state’s two law schools.

Specific Confidentiality for Students: Character and Fitness

In the November 11, 2010 Per Curiam order, which created the law student program, the justices cited “the concern of ‘confidentiality’ of law students who might want to approach JLAP for help, but are reluctant to do so.” Regulation 8—Standards for Admission, in the appendix to the Rules Governing Admission to the Bar, “lists certain actions taken or behavior exhibited by an applicant as evidence of the ‘good moral character and mental and emotional stability’ of the applicant, which is the fundamental standard of character and fitness for admission to the Bar of Arkansas.” Therefore Regulation 8 was amended as it appears below.

The amendment to Regulation 8 now includes the following subsection (d):

d. Seeking counsel from the Arkansas Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program (JLAP) for physical or mental disabilities that result from disease, substance abuse, disorder, trauma, or age that might impair the applicant’s ability to practice “impairments” shall not be considered adversely by the Board in its evaluation. Further, should the applicant choose to participate in a program designed for him or her by JLAP, and successfully complete that program by the time of graduation, the evidence of such rehabilitation and recovery shall be considered favorably by the Board when evaluating the applicant’s character and fitness. The applicant’s failure to complete a treatment program may be considered adversely by the Board.

Law Student Listserv

The Student in Recovery listserv was developed by the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP) to provide a confidential email vehicle for law students who want to get, or stay, clean and sober while in law school. This is a chance for students to connect with and ask questions of their law student peers throughout the US and share their experience, strength and hope.

If you wish to be added to the listserv, interested law students should contact Niki Irish, directly at nirish@dcbar.org. Students should be prepared to talk a bit about their history and about their need and desire to communicate with other law students facing similar challenges. Ms. Irish will make the final determination to add the student to the Listserv and will provide each student with the rules and regulations regarding use of the “Student in Recovery Listserv.” When a student graduates and is admitted to the bar, he/she will be removed from the Listserv.  This service is confidential.