Attorney Licensure and the Impaired Professional: Substance use disorders and mental health challenges

Laurie J. Besden, Esq.
Laurie J. Besden, Esq.
Lawyers Concern for Lawyers PA

Laurie Besden is the Executive Director of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers of Pennsylvania, Inc. (LCL PA). She served as its Deputy Executive Director, overseeing its Helpline operations, serving as primary contact for intervention requests, expanding its law school outreach, and increasing LCL PA’s presence within the organized bench and bar, from 2011-2015.

Tracy L. Kepler
Tracy L. Kepler
CAN Insurance

Tracy L. Kepler is the Risk Control Consulting Director for CNA’s Lawyers Insurance Program. In this role, she designs and develops content and distribution of risk control initiatives relevant to the practice of law.

On-Demand: March 17, 2022

Accrediation Provided by:
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Program Summary

Substance use disorders and mental health challenges can affect any attorney regardless of gender, culture, ethnicity, age, or socioeconomic status. This program, taught by seasoned attorneys Tracy Kepler and Laurie Besden, instructs attorneys on how to recognize the impaired professional, provides various resources to assist in the recovery, and identifies the possible disciplinary implications of an impaired attorneys' conduct.

Ms. Besden will share her personal journey from the darkness and depths of despair, while struggling with a substance use disorder, as a license attorney, to her path of long-term recovery, where she received a full Governor’s Pardon by Governor Wolf in 2020.

This course is co-sponsored with myLawCLE.

Key topics to be discussed:

  • Understand substance use disorders and mental health challenges as medical diagnoses and how their prevalence rates affect the legal professional as told by one of the presenters, that is in long term recovery herself
  • Spot warning signs of, and learn how to begin the conversation with, an impaired attorney
  • Learn about the interface between potential attorney disciplinary action and impairment as well as possible reporting obligations
  • Identify confidential, safe, free, and supportive resources available to the impaired legal professional, their family members, and their colleagues
  • Learn several wellness tips that you can apply in your daily life, without much effort, that will positively impact your mental health, both personally and professionally

Date / Time: March 17, 2022

  • 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm Eastern
  • 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm Central
  • 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm Mountain
  • 11:00 am – 12:00 pm Pacific

Choose a format:

Live Video Broadcast/Re-Broadcast: Watch Program "live" in real-time, must sign-in and watch program on date and time set above. May ask questions during presentation via chat box. Qualifies for "live" CLE credit.

On-Demand Video: Access CLE 24/7 via on-demand library and watch program anytime. Qualifies for self-study CLE credit. On-demand versions are made available 5 business days after the original recording date and are viewable for up to one year.

Closed-captioning available

Speakers

Laurie J. Besden, Esq._myLawCLELaurie J. Besden, Esq. | Lawyers Concern for Lawyers PA

Laurie Besden is the Executive Director of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers of Pennsylvania, Inc. (LCL PA). She served as its Deputy Executive Director, overseeing its Helpline operations, serving as primary contact for intervention requests, expanding its law school outreach, and increasing LCL PA’s presence within the organized bench and bar, from 2011-2015. After becoming LCL PA’s Executive Director in 2015, Laurie continued to serve in most of these capacities and assumed responsibility for the organization’s administrative and financial operations, as well as its judges’ assistance program (Judges Concerned for Judges).

Laurie is a licensed attorney in Pennsylvania (1999) and New Jersey (1999). She practiced law from 1999 through 2001 and 2009-2011 in several capacities including:

  • Attorney-at-law (general civil and criminal practice), East Norriton, PA
  • Law Clerk (Pennsylvania Superior Court), Philadelphia, PA
  • Law Clerk (Philadelphia Municipal Court), Philadelphia, PA

She received her B.A. in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of Maryland, College Park, MD (1995) and her J.D. from The Dickinson School of Law of the Pennsylvania State University (1999).

Laurie was the 2015 recipient of the Montgomery Bar Association’s Henry Stuckert Miller Award for her dedication to public service in the legal profession and the 2019 recipient of Caron’s Legal Professional/Uniformed Public Service Award for the Greater Philadelphia Region.

 

Tracy L. Kepler_myLawCLETracy L. Kepler | CAN Insurance

Tracy L. Kepler is the Risk Control Consulting Director for CNA’s Lawyers Insurance Program. In this role, she designs and develops content and distribution of risk control initiatives relevant to the practice of law. She collaborates with the underwriting and claims teams to develop and execute strategies for the profitable growth of the program. Tracy lectures frequently at CNA-sponsored events and at state and local bar associations and national seminars hosted by industry-leading organizations. She also writes articles focusing on law firm risk control and professional responsibility issues. Prior to joining CNA, Tracy served as the Director of the American Bar Association’s Center for Professional Responsibility (CPR), providing national leadership in developing and interpreting standards
and scholarly resources in legal and judicial ethics, professional regulation, professionalism, client protection, professional liability and attorney well-being. From 2014-2016.

Tracy served as an Associate Solicitor in the Office of General Counsel for the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO), where she concentrated her practice in the investigation, prosecution and appeal of patent/trademark practitioner disciplinary matters before the Agency, U.S. District Courts and Federal Circuit, provided policy advice on ethics and discipline related matters to senior management, and drafted and revised Agency regulations. From 2000-2014, she served as Senior Litigation Counsel for the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC), where she investigated and prosecuted cases of attorney misconduct.

Ms. Kepler has served in various volunteer capacities, including as President, on the Board of the National Organization of Bar Counsel (NOBC), a non-profit organization of legal professionals whose members enforce ethics rules that regulate the professional conduct of lawyers who practice law in the United States and abroad. Ms. Kepler is currently an Adjunct Professor at American University’s Washington College of Law, Georgetown University Law Center and Loyola School of Law (Chicago) teaching Legal Ethics.

Committed to the promotion and encouragement of professional responsibility and attorney wellbeing throughout her career, Ms. Kepler has served on the ABA’s Commission on Lawyers Assistance Programs, where she was a Commission member, a member of its Advisory Committee, the Chair of its Education and Senior Lawyer Committees, and also a member of its National Conference Planning Committee. She is a Board member of the Institute for Well-Being in Law (formerly the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being) and is an author of its Well-Being Report. She is also an Advisory Board Member of the Mindfulness in Law Society. She is a graduate of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and received her law degree from New England School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts.

Agenda

I. Introduction | 2:00 pm – 2:05pm
II. Setting the Stage – Personal Recovery Story of Laurie Besden | 2:05 pm – 2:10pm
III. Discussion of Prevalence Rates of Substance Use and Mental Health Challenges in the Legal Profession, including the most recent data | 2:10pm – 2:15pm
IV. Discussion of why legal professionals are at a high risk for Substance Use and Mental Health disorders | 2:15pm – 2:20pm
V. Disciplinary statistics relevant to attorney impairment | 2:20pm – 2:30pm
VI. Warning signs that someone is struggling and how to help them with resources/a loving conversation | 2:30pm – 2:35pm
VII. The Model Rules of Professional Conduct relevant to attorney impairment | 2:35pm – 2:40pm
VIII. Lawyers’ assistance program resources – nationally and the 2021 trends | 2:40pm – 2:45pm
IX. What should firms be doing to help support attorneys that may be struggling | 2:45pm – 2:50pm
X. Solutions: Wellness tips and self-care strategies | 2:50pm – 3:00pm