The History of NC LAP
The North Carolina Lawyer Assistance Program’s (“NC LAP”) roots began in 1979 with the assemblage of a group of lawyer volunteers who were themselves recovering alcoholics who saw the need to offer assistance to other lawyers suffering from addiction and alcoholism. The group was named the Positive Action for Lawyers (“PALS”) Committee. In 1994, the State Bar formally recognized the PALS Committee and incorporated PALS as part of the State Bar administration and infrastructure. In 1999, further recognizing the need for additional assistance for lawyers dealing with mental health issues not related to substance abuse, the State Bar then formed the FRIENDS committee.
Today both programs have been merged into a single Lawyer Assistance Program. NC LAP currently has a staff consisting of a director, three clinicians and 2 office administration and special projects personnel. NC LAP also has a cadre of dedicated, trained lawyer and judge volunteers, located throughout the state, who are actively involved in providing assistance to lawyers and judges whenever and wherever needed.
NC LAP has a Board consisting of three State Bar councilors, three LAP volunteers, and three clinicians or experts in the field of mental health and addiction. NC LAP also has a steering committee of volunteers from around the state who assist in the execution of special initiatives. NC LAP is also part of the ABA’s Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP), a network of LAPs serving nearly all 50 states in the U.S.
The Mission of NC LAP
NC LAP is a service of the North Carolina State Bar which provides free, confidential assistance to lawyers, judges and law students in addressing substance abuse, mental health issues and other stressors which impair or may impair an attorney’s ability to effectively practice law. In sum, our mission is to:
1. Protect the public from impaired lawyers and judges;
2. Assist lawyers, judges and law students with any issues that are or may be impairing;
3. Support the on-going recovery processes of lawyers and judges;
4. Educate the legal community about issues of substance abuse and mental health.