This thesis is a continuation of research and scholarly writing that the author completed for a published article that appeared in Volume 5 of the University of Central Florida Undergraduate Law Journal, Spring 2022. The rising rate of attorneys with a self-reported substance abuse disorder, chemical or alcohol dependency, as the data reveals, is the highest in our country’s history. Although the notion of attorney addictions and dependency issues may come as a surprise to those outside of the legal community, these issues are not breaking news. Rather, the data has been slowly emerging due to the increasing number of law students utilizing performance-enhancing substances and attorneys’ pleas for addiction assistance and support from the legal community.
But where does the foundation for dependency lie? How did it begin and what fuels that continuum? Are addicted attorneys merely victims of circumstance? Are the consequences more or less severe than those for non-attorney civilians? Are the current resources available adequate to provide proper assistance for attorneys in need? The cornerstone here is access to the resources prior to making precarious decisions of deceit and wrongdoing, coupled with proper support and rehabilitative systems.
This thesis will explore addiction and dependency issues of law students and lawyers alike by providing analyses of the triggers, aggravating factors, and consequences whilst contemporaneously evaluating currently available resources. Perhaps a current exploration of this data will result in a reimagining of the protocols surrounding publicized disciplinary actions against lawyers stemming from a dependency or addiction. Alternatively, the research results may lead to an expansion of the existing Lawyer Assistance Programs (LAP) to include mandatory therapy, specialized group sessions, monitored sponsorships and additional Continuing Legal Education (CLE) courses. Additionally, the research explores how disciplinary proceedings are handled in an arguably unfair forum, such as inconsistencies involving judicial discretion. Further, arguments will be made to bolster reasons as to why returning to the practice of confidential disciplinary proceedings would benefit those in need, including an analysis of current substance abuse confidentiality regulations seen in California and Louisiana.
Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
College of Community Innovation and Education
Yost, Amy M., "A Fall From Grace: The Rising Rate of Attorneys with Substance Abuse Disorders, Chemical Dependencies and Addictions" (2022). Honors Undergraduate Theses. 1285.