By Tony Pacione, LAP Deputy Director, LCSW, CADC
Ten dollars can’t buy you much in today’s economy, but the Illinois Lawyer’s Assistance Program (LAP) provides a lot for ten bucks! The amount of $10 is contributed to LAP from each registered attorney’s annual licensing fee. Let’s examine the return on that investment.
Value and Access
Value in health care enterprises is defined as quality divided by cost. LAP has demonstrated high value in accordance with that definition. We strive and have demonstrated success each year in providing quality service for each of the $10 registration fee we receive.
Over the past few years LAP’s outreach efforts throughout the entire state has yielded increasing number of attorneys, judges and law students seeking assistance for mental health and substance abuse issues. They find their way to us from colleagues, presentation we deliver, our social media presence and our continued efforts in law schools and judicial conferences. The following chart shows LAP’s significant increases in new cases each of the last five fiscal years.
Our expertise is accessible and available in every corner of the state: We will now have three Chicagoland offices- in the Loop, Northwest Suburbs, and soon in DuPage/Kane counties. In addition we have regional offices in Madison County/Metro East (Edwardsville and Maryville), Jackson County (Carbondale), McClean County (Bloomington) and Rock Island County (Quad Cities).
And as our outreach efforts and our services grow, so has attorney satisfaction with our services.
The five areas that we measure satisfaction are: 1) how easy is it to access LAP?; 2) how confidential is your involvement with LAP?; 3) How satisfied are you with the referral for ongoing care we provided?; 4) How helpful was LAP in achieving your goals for seeking help?; and 5) How likely would you be to recommend a colleague to LAP?
Your $10 also purchases considerable expertise in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and attorney wellness. Executive Director, Robin Belleau, JD, LCPC, former Assistant States Attorney and Assistant Public Defender, is also a licensed mental health clinician and an experienced interventionist. Legal Educational and Clinical Manager, Diana Uchiyama, JD, PsyD former Assistant Public Defender, and is also a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Forensic Psychologist. Legal Community Liaison, Shelley Sandoval, JD is a recent law graduate who maintains our very successful outreach efforts to law firms, governmental agencies, and to laws schools. Deputy Director, Tony Pacione, LCSW, CSADC has decades of experience managing outpatient and inpatient clinics servicing those in need of mental health and addiction treatment.
LAP’s Board of Directors, appointment by the Illinois Supreme Court, are experienced and dedicated attorneys and judges. Some members of our Board, Advisory committee to the Board, and Associate Board are former LAP clients that are ‘giving back’ and paying it forward to other attorneys now struggling with some of the same issues these committed board members have faced.
Outreach and Follow Up Care
Over the past year and a half LAP has made a concerted effort to increase the legal community’s awareness of the LAP, the services we offer, and the issues that face many attorneys, judges and law students in the contemporary practice of law.
These efforts in large part has accounted for the significant increase in the new cases. We know that 31% of new clients learned about LAP from a colleague, while another 14% gained awareness of LAP form one of our approximately 90 CLE presentations we provide each year. We recently completed a strategic upgrade of our web site (illinoislap.org), which now accounts for 17% of our new cases; go ahead and try it- googgle “help for lawyers in Illinois” and we appear number one on the search results! This was not always the case.
Over the past three years we have firmly established connections at all nine law schools in the state; including having one of our staff or trained volunteers spend a day each month meeting with students who are seeking assistance from LAP. As a result, law schools account for nearly 20% of new cases.
Over the past thirty years or so, LAP have given many attorneys struggling with a harmful addiction, as well as mental health issues, not only a helping hand to get into it appropriate treatment, but have also guided them though the first year or two of recovery with our focused case management and extensive follow up care. By tracking and supporting attorneys through the initial stages of recovery and treatment, a piolet project demonstrated that only five out of twenty two attorneys have experienced a treatment failure and returned to active substance use- this represents 77% recovery rate during the initial six months of recovery!
A Growing Network of Specialty Providers and Trained Volunteers
Unfortunately, LAP cannot provide all of the ongoing care for extended periods of time that many of our attorneys require. But your $10, through the careful efforts of LAP, provides access to an extensive network of providers thought out the state. These providers are assessed and monitored by several criteria; we seek to find the best ‘fit’ or match between what an attorney needs and the capabilities of the provider or treatment program.
Each year in June LAP provides a volunteer training session in Chicago and another part of the state. This peer support training seeks to equip volunteers with the needed skills enabling them to reach out to attorneys, judges, and law students in need and provide ongoing support and ‘coaching.’ We train an average of over 250 new Peer Support Volunteers annually.
In addition, LAP’s ongoing Treatment Assistance Fund raises money to provide for attorneys, judges, and law students needing funding for treatment. Over the last three years, LAP has provided approximately $45,000 in assistance to those needing help but unable to afford treatment. We are grateful to the those who contribute to this fund.
So what Can You Really get for $10?
Through the collective efforts of our committed and expert staff, our dedicated and experienced Board of Directors, and the many committed peer support volunteers, you certainly get a lot for $10. Once someone reaches out to LAP, often the end result is that your $10 may save a career, a family, or a life – you can’t even buy 2 latees for $10!