Lawyer mental health and wellness rates are falling and attorney alcohol abuse rates are on the rise. A study released by the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation reported more than 1 in 3 practicing attorneys are problem drinkers.
In face of these statistics, the Illinois Supreme Court, long an advocate of attorney wellness in Illinois, recently took further steps to help improve lawyer mental health.
Earlier this month, the Illinois Supreme Court announced that the annual attorney registration fee was going up to support lawyer mental health via Lawyers Assistance Program (LAP).
According to the newly amended Supreme Court Rule 756, the attorney registration fee for attorneys who have been in active status for three or more years will see their annual fees increase from $382 to $385. Attorneys in active status for less than three years, those in inactive status, and out-of-state lawyers eligible to practice in Illinois under Rule 707 will not see their attorney registration fees rise.
The $3 increase will go directly to the Lawyers’ Assistance Program, along with the $7 that has been contributed in the past under this rule. The funds will help the organization enhance its outreach and educational efforts across the state.
LAP is a small organization with an enormous impact on the Illinois legal community. With a staff of only five people, their team handles nearly 300 requests from lawyers, judge, and law students each year who seek help with substance abuse and mental health issues.
The organization’s Executive Director Robin Belleau believes the increase will have a positive effect on the legal community.
These much-needed funds will allow us to expand our efforts to provide support, education and outreach to Illinois’ legal community, while simultaneously combating the stigma associated with these diseases.
The new fee schedule will take effect in 2017.