Dallas Bar Association

DBA State Bar President’s Update

by Terry Tottenham

Each of us needs a little help from time to time. Sometimes asking for that help can be tough. We lawyers are all too well acquainted with the pressures associated with our profession. Those pressures, combined with the day-to-day stresses we face, can become too much to bear. For lawyers struggling with anxiety, depression or substance abuse, taking that first step to find help might seem insurmountable.

With its new video, Practicing Law and Wellness: Modern Strategies for Lawyers Dealing with Anxiety, Addiction, and Depression, the State Bar is trying to help our colleagues who are at risk and may want to get help but not know where to turn. We hope this video will raise awareness about the recovery strategies available to lawyers and judges who are struggling with substance abuse, depression or anxiety and how they can get the help they need. This excellent DVD includes several real-life stories of lawyers who have faced substance abuse or depression, and therapists and wellness practitioners offering their suggestions for achieving a more balanced, less stressful life.

The DVD was produced by the outstanding staff of the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program (TLAP). Since 1989, TLAP has provided crisis counseling and referrals for lawyers, judges, and law students challenged by substance use disorders and serious mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. To obtain a copy of the DVD, you can call the TLAP office at (800) 343-8527 or visit www.texasbar.com/tlap. In addition, TexasBarCLE is providing a 30- to 60-minute ethics presentation on wellness solutions at 52 advanced courses this year.

Another way you can help your fellow attorneys who face substance use or mental health issues is by contributing to the Pat Sheeran and Michael J. Crowley Memorial Trust, which provides financial assistance to colleagues who have committed to undergo necessary treatment and counseling to help them get back their lives and careers from substance abuse or mental health disorders, such as depression. The trust, named in honor of the first director of TLAP, Pat Sheeran, and one of TLAP’s founders, Michael J. Crowley, is funded solely by contributions. During their lives, both Mr. Sheeran and Mr. Crowley helped many attorneys on their paths to recovery from alcohol, drugs, or depression. If you would like to help your fellow lawyers in need, I encourage you to contact TLAP Director Ann Foster at (800) 343-8527 for more information or to make a donation.

For lawyers who are unemployed or underemployed, TexasBarCLE offers a free monthly webcast series, “Practice Tips in Good Times and Bad.” Each one-hour webcast provides practical advice on ways to build and maintain a law practice, job search techniques, or how to improve networking skills. To learn more, or to register for a webcast, visit www.texasbarcle.com.

YouTube Contest and Law Day

We are currently accepting entries for the 2011 State Bar YouTube video contest. Aspiring filmmakers can create a 30-second PSA-style video on the theme “The Difference a Lawyer Makes.” This contest is the perfect way to get your children and their friends thinking about and discussing the role lawyers play in our justice system and society. The deadline for entries is April 1, so there’s still plenty of time to enter. The contest rules and entry form are available at www.texasbar.com/texansonjustice.  

The YouTube contest winners will be announced as part of the 2011 Law Day Celebration at the Texas Law Center in Austin on May 9. The Law Day theme is “The Legacy of John Adams, From Boston to Guantanamo.” For more information, you can contact Catherine Barrett with the State Bar Local Bar Services Department at cbarrett@texasbar.com or (800) 204-2222, ext. 1517. I look forward to seeing some great submissions from your area students!

Save the Date—Annual Meeting

Mark your calendars! The 2011 State Bar Annual Meeting is set for June 23–24 in San Antonio. It’s a great opportunity to get your CLE credit all in one place while reconnecting with your colleagues and friends. For more information and to register online, visit www.texasbar.com/annualmeeting.

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