Attorneys With Alzheimer's One Focus Of 'Impaired Lawyers' Seminar
When do you know for sure that some sort of an impairment is affecting a lawyer's job performance? How can you tell if it's a drug problem? Or a medical condition? And what do you do about an older lawyer with dementia who seems sharp some days and confused and out of sorts at other times?
These are some of the kinds of questions that will be discussed Friday, October 18 at a half-day symposium sponsored by the Connecticut Bar Association, Connecticut Bar Foundation and Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers.
"Somebody out there has been through this. Somebody out there knows someone going through it," said Beth D. Griffin, executive director of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers, Connecticut's non-profit lawyer assistance program. "Let's make their situation easier, help them understand better what they're dealing with."
An impressive list of panelists, including lawyers, former judges and medical professionals, will discuss these issues. The panel discussions will be broken into three sections, each with separate speakers. The first will be identifying impairment. The next will discuss how to intervene. And finally there will be discussion about what impairment problems the profession needs to prepare for in the future.
Panelists include former state Supreme Court justice Barry R. Schaller, former Superior Court Judge Anne C. Dranginis (who now practices at Rome McGuigan), Chief Disciplinary Counsel Patricia King, and Dr. Robert A. Grillo, Jr., chairman of the department of psychiatry at Middlesex Hospital.
While lawyers, like society in general, have their struggles with drugs, alcohol, depression and stress, the symposium will also discuss an issue that officials expect to worsen in the coming years, as baby boomers move through their 60s — cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease in aging lawyers.
The American Bar Association recently coined the phrase "senior tsunami" to describe it.
Griffin, who will also be speaking at the symposium, was at another seminar about cognitive impairment last week in California.
"There was a time when we didn't say the 'cancer' word," said Griffin. "There was a time when nobody wanted to say AIDS or HIV. I think we're coming out of the backside of nobody wanting to talk about these issues of aging."
Griffin provided the hypothetical example of your "Uncle Charlie" who is a lawyer. He shows up to your door the day after Thanksgiving thinking it's Thanksgiving.