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Bar News - March 21, 2008

NH Lawyers’ Assistance Program Helping Many


Throughout the year, I have tried to keep you up to date on the Bar’s activities and issues and to inform you about significant rule changes and new programs. Once again, I am pleased to bring to your attention the Lawyers Assistance Program, also known as NHLAP, which started in September, 2007. New Hampshire is the 49th state to adopt a formal lawyers’ assistance program.

Those of us who attended the Midyear Meeting Lunch in February, heard Cecie Hartigan, the new Executive Director of NHLAP, speak about the program and her excitement about being involved with NHLAP. Cecie emphasized that the Lawyers Assistance Program is an independent, confidential resource for attorneys, judges and law students in the state of New Hampshire. It is important to note that all of the services provided by NHLAP are protected under Supreme Court Rules 58.8 and 9 and 37(1)(e).

Lawyers suffer from stress-related issues, depression and substance abuse at roughly twice the rate of the general population. The statistics are staggering and support the need for such a program. Recovery among professionals has been documented at 90 percent. As Cecie reported at the meeting, since the program began in September, she has seen positive results in the lives of many New Hampshire lawyers.

The NHLAP builds on the efforts of two groups of lawyers that have been in place for 20 years: Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers (LCL), begun in New Hampshire by Judge John Maher and Lawyers Assistance Committee (LAC) headed by John Tobin of New Hampshire Legal Assistance. The LCL continues as an independent, self-help group. Cecie is a contact person for this organization, although it remains as a voluntary organization separate from the NHLAP.

NHLAP was created in 2007 by the New Hampshire Supreme Court. Judge John Maher, John Tobin, Chief Justice John Broderick and other members of the Supreme Court were integral in providing their support and advocacy to create this program. The confidentiality component of the program was and is the main priority of the Court in the creation of the NHLAP.

The NHLAP Commission includes the Honorable John Maher, chair, John E. Tobin, vice chair; Heidi Barrett-Kitchen, Anne Draper, Nancy Euchner, the Honorable Robert Morrill, Robert B. Phillips and David Wolowitz. As executive director, Cecie plans to attend local and county bar meetings to discuss the program. She also has a CLE program entitled, "Ethical Obligations and the Problem of Lawyer Impairment," that is being presented at law firms and recently at the NH Women’s Bar Association. It is an excellent program for the benefit of the attorneys, judges and law students in New Hampshire.

Eleanor Dahar is the 2007-2008 President of the NH Bar Association, and practices with the Dahar Professional Association in Manchester.

If you are in doubt about the status of any meeting, please call the Bar Center at 603-224-6942 before you head out.

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