My world shattered with a phone call from my partner of 25 years on a Friday afternoon. “Someone from DCFS (Department of Child and Family Services) is here. They want to talk to you.”
Over the next several months, I was falsely accused of neglecting my children, both of whom have severe special needs. Through court documents, I came to learn that my partner had colluded in making those accusations after we had disagreed about drastic treatment options for our children. I spent the next nine months fighting: for custody of my children, to clear my reputation, and to put back together my shattered family.
As a partner in a large law firm, these circumstances were literally unimaginable until they happened to me. Not only was I facing a Kafkaesque drama, I needed my job in order to continue supporting my family. The stress of not only keeping my job and continuing to deliver a high level of legal services to high-profile and demanding clients, but also keeping my humiliating personal drama from my colleagues, took an enormous toll.
A colleague told me about the Lawyers’ Assistance Program during a benign conversation about lawyers and stress. “They help lawyers facing big problems,” she said. That sounded like me.
LAP, and specifically the LAP case manager, listened to me, helped me, and most importantly, always dealt with me honestly and respectfully. During a time in my life when honesty and respect were in short supply,LAP’s help allowed me to continue working, stay healthy, and eventually put my family back together and our legal crisis behind us.
We still have a lot of work ahead — we are, after all, parents forever — but I am around to do that work, for myself and my children, because LAP helped keep me standing.