PBCBA BAR BULLETINS pbcba_bulletin_december 2017 - Page 19

PROFESSIONALISM C o r n e r The Pink Elephant in the Office D. CULVER “SKIP” SMITH III logically that avoiding the issue puts the firm and its clients at risk. The subject is uncomfortable, especially if the lawyer has a book of business and is otherwise well- regarded. Michael is unlikely to admit his problem or ask for help until he hits bottom. Even if he knows he has a problem, he may deny it or promise to do better—a promise he cannot keep. He will be concerned about stigma, about loss of stature or respect, about loss of job. high percentage of them. According to the Legal Profession Assistance Conference, studies estimate that in approximately 60% of discipline prosecutions and malpractice claims, alcohol abuse is at work. Sending Michael on his way, however, does not solve the firm’s problem. The unsuspecting clients who follow him will later try to hold the firm accountable for any losses for its failure to inform them of Michael’s impairment. Either way, the firm is at risk for not addressing the problem head on. A law firm invites trouble if it waits for others to intervene. The firm already has invested in this lawyer. It has an opportunity to salvage a valuable relationship. But how? Simply telling the lawyer to shape up or hit the road rarely works. Likewise, intervening without professional help is ill-advised. We are lawyers—we practice law. Just as a firm hires accountants to do its accounting, it should enlist the help of a mental-health professional who is certified in addictions and interventions. “We have a problem with Michael.” Alan was speaking at a meeting of the Executive Committee of Wynk V&ǖVbBGF&W2Br( w'6ƖVBW7B6V@RF&VFVrF7VRW2"&W'BW2FFP&"&V6W6R֖6V2FrFrFvW@W"v&FR2B&WGW&rW"P62"&W7FrFW"R2BGv6R2&vBFFG&W72FR77VR'W@26WF2B6WFFW&R&PFVǒ266VVBFVG2( Ц'&FW"&֖f6F>( FBW7BFR'fW0( vBFR&VƖWfR2FR&&V( 6VBf"֖6VB2f֖ǒbR7F0R'WB6f"FRf&( 26ƖVG2@&f"FRf&( 2&WWFFBf6( ĒF( Br( &WƖVB( 'WBF22BvV&Vrv&rFR77VRW6W0FRf'7BFRR6W2FR26BFR6ƖVG2֖6V6W'fW2F7V'7FF&@'&F&R6FW22ff6RB&G2BbBFvR6W6rv&b֖6VffR6'R2֗76VBGvV&w2FW2BvWBV2&VBgV7FpFR7BF2&GV7F2&VVWfF&ǒvVBF&"w&Wf6W2@&Vr"V"6WRbFW27R&7F6R627B&"w&Wf6W0F2ff6RBFVvB6VVB&6Rg&6b6ƖVB6V6FB6"7V'7F6R'W6RVFW&ƖW2'F6R6FVW2vR#"6( Р( ĆR2'&ƖBwW"B2FPW6VVBv&FR7B( FVB&( FRFR2G&涖r&&V( Р( ĒF( BrB&VǒF( B6&R( 6@( FR&GFƖR2FBvR6@ff&BF6FVRFFW&FRF2&Vf"vRVVBFFVFB2&WGFW"gWGW&PƖW2V6WvW&R( Р( FB6VV2ƗGFRV'FW72( &FW7FV@&ࠐ( &R( &WƖVB( 'WBwV&ǖVbB2rf&B&V"f6ƗG( Х'46&PF&&&&W'Bv70&66&T66&W&&6Ц&&66&W&&6Ч&v7466&W&&6Ф7GVG&VV6VB#b2B&V7@bFR$BFRVFV&WGGf&@fVFF&6VB7W'fW26WFVB'"Ã#RƖ6V6VBVVBW&6wW'26vVBFB#bR67&VVVB6FfPf"&FW2&gVBFVFǐ6FWVFVBG&涖rF22Gv6PvB2&VƖWfVBF&RFR&WfV6RpW&6GVG26B7FF7F2ƖR#bP֖vB7W'&6R"&W72fWrbW2'W@FbBFW&2bRffRBF0FW2B6VFRFW"f&2bG'Vr'W6P"FRFW"W&f&6R֖&pFF7F2FBW7BFgFVvRFRFW"vvPVVBF6W'6VfW2vvR