Bar News - November 19, 2014
NH Bar to Join Survey on Behavioral Health of Lawyers
By: Dan Wise
NH Bar members will be asked early next month to complete a confidential brief survey on issues regarding substance abuse, depression and anxiety in the legal profession, as part of a national research effort.
The last nationwide comprehensive survey of the profession was completed 20 years ago. At that time, the statistics revealed that attorneys suffer from a disproportionately high rate of suicide, depression and substance abuse, as compared to other professionals.
There is no out-of-pocket expense for the Bar Association to participate in the survey; the NHBA Board of Governors authorized the use of the Bar Association’s communications resources to disseminate the survey, starting in early December. (This survey is not related to the Bar’s survey on the economics of law practice, which closed earlier this month.) While aggregate information about NH will be gathered, the survey responses will go directly to the research project and will be completely confidential.
Cecie Hartigan, executive director of the NH Lawyers Assistance Program, said bar associations in several large states have already agreed to survey their members and said it is important for small states with predominantly rural or small-town practices such as New Hampshire be represented as well.
According to the ABA, which is collaborating with the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation on sponsoring the joint research project, previous estimates put the addiction rate of attorneys at twice the rate of the general population. “It appears the problem may be growing even worse. It’s time to update the research,” Patrick Krill, one of the study’s leaders, said in a statement.
Terry Harrell, chair of the ABA Commission on Lawyers Assistance Programs, stated, “We should celebrate this important collaboration. Having well conducted, current research on how these issues impact our profession will help us to better target our resources and provide the best assistance we can to our profession. In addition, this research will help inform the work of lawyer discipline, judicial discipline, lawyer admissions, and all those providing treatment to judges, lawyers, and law students.”