Should Impairment Issues Stop Lawyers From Practicing?

Just like lawyers, doctors occasionally suffer from the debilitating impacts of alcohol and drug addiction, mental illness and age-related mental decline. But unlike their brethren in the legal profession, which is governed by a code of professional conduct that takes a punitive approach when impairment issues arise, Connecticut doctors can continue to practice as long as they take steps to get help.

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What's being said

  • Kenneth Laska

    Many years ago during my 35 year term as the Chair of the Insurance Proposals for the Bar Committee I made a suggestion on how to deal with impaired attorneys. The CBA would set up a Committee for Impaired Attorneys. When the court or the grievance committee learned that an attorney was impaired, the impaired attorney would be given a choice. He could be disbarred or enter treatment while one of the committee members would step in, take over his practice, and all money earned would go to running the office and income for the impaired attorney. Then the impaired attorney could slowly return to practice and hopefully to a better life.

    This would solve the problem of clients being inadequately represented or the reluctance of the attorney to seek treatment for fear of losing his income. The malpractice carriers would probably welcome this because it could stop some very serious claims. Finally the fact that the Committee attorneys would serve free of charge, should not be a problem, because I have found many attorneys who have bent over backwards to help a fellow attorney in need. Moreover the impaired attorney would see that those sitting on this committee, were very well known and respected, so there would not be the fear that their practice was going to fall into the hands of someone ill equipped to run it.

    However the CBA for whatever reason did not feel that this was something that interested them. So now we have this symposium for the leaders of the Bar to wring their hands, say woe is me, and to make the momentous discovery that water is wet.

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