The West Virginia Lawyer Assistance Program (“WVLAP”) was established by order of the West Virginia Supreme Court in 2013 and its mission is set forth in the Rules of the West Virginia Supreme Court.
WVLAP is a free and confidential assistance program providing consultation, referral, intervention, crisis management, monitoring and peer support for lawyers, judges, bar applicants and law students who are struggling with retirement, stress, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, suicidal ideation or other mental/physical/ emotional health issues.
WVLAP’s work also contributes to the protection of the public and the improvement of the integrity and reputation of the legal profession. Statistics support that assistance to an affected lawyer often prevents future consequences and ethical violations, thereby reducing the number of legal, employment and disciplinary actions.
The MISSION of WVLAP is threefold:
- To Confidentially Assist members of the legal profession to identify quality of life issues, access continuing care resources and engage in an ongoing personal program of recovery;
- To Protect the interest of clients, litigants and the general public from harm caused by impaired lawyers or judges; and
- To Educate the bench, the bar, and the public to the types, causes and remedies for impairments affecting members of the legal profession.
Research has shown that Lawyers, Judges, and Law Students are more vulnerable to personal and professional problems than the general population, and that few occupations are as stressful. Competition, administrative responsibilities, long hours, high expectations and win -lose scenarios can wear down even the most energetic lawyer. This can lead to depression, stress, career problems, relationship issues, financial problems and substance abuse. WVLAP offers assistance to those who are experiencing issues that may affect their ability to practice or serve.