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Courage

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					                         L A W Y E R S                    H E L P I N G                   L A W Y E R S




                                                                                                    Courage



                                                              BY JEANNE MARIE LESLIE




A
        s I write this article, our country is   very thought of these topics produces an         witness individuals make remarkable
        mourning the death of the 38th           air of uneasiness. When under extraordi-         changes in their lives. They become better
        president of the United States,          nary stress, professionals of all disciplines,   people, better fathers, better mothers and
Gerald R. Ford. President Ford was an            including lawyers, perform their obliga-         better lawyers. The fact that there are
instrumental leader during a critical peri-      tions at less than satisfactory levels.          lawyers with mental health problems in all
od in the history of our country. My             Lawyers, in an attempt to cope, may turn         venues of the legal profession is a reality
thoughts, however, are on his wife, Betty        to addictive substances or addictive behav-      that is no different from any other profes-
Ford, a woman of great courage and con-          iors to get through the tough times. It is       sion, but addressing it, talking about it and
viction in her own right. It is amazing that     no surprise to the professionals who treat       reaching out and offering assistance takes
29 years ago Mrs. Ford entered a hospital        lawyers that these issues are prevalent in       courage.
for her addiction to sleeping pills, alcohol     the legal arena and these types of coping           The Alabama Lawyer Assistance
and other substances. Little did she realize     mechanisms, in all professions, can lead         Program offers confidential help for
that she would be embarking on a journey         to malpractice claims, disciplinary              lawyers throughout Alabama. We offer
that would lend itself to change and hope        complaints and utter disaster.                   assistance for stress, depression and
for the millions of individuals suffering           What most people don’t realize is the         addiction. We know these issues are real
from the disease of addiction. Mrs. Ford         enormous amount of suffering associated          and we know how to help. Call for assis-
was a pioneer for change. Her openness           with these illnesses and the desperation         tance, (334) 834-7576 (office), or (334)
and willingness to share personal battles        for relief that is often sought. Addressing      224-6920 (24 hours).                        ■
from breast cancer to addiction continues        lawyer mental health impairments is
today to give millions of individuals the        tough but what is tougher is attending
courage to deal with their own personal          the funerals of these lawyers. Talking
problems. Addiction and depression are           about these issues, bringing them to the
issues the legal profession would prefer         forefront, helps remove the stigma, and             Jeanne Marie Leslie
                                                                                                     Jeanne Marie Leslie, RN, M.Ed, is director of the
not to talk about. You don’t find many           enables lawyers to seek help.                       Alabama Lawyer Assistance Program.
firms discussing wellness or stress man-            Working as the ALAP director I experi-
agement in the board rooms. In fact, the         ence extraordinary courage every day. I

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