Attorney Licensure and the Impaired Professional

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 impaired attorneys' conduct.

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

Learning Objectives:
  1. Explore 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, who is in long-term recovery, herself.
  2. Identify warning signs of, and learn how to begin the conversation with an impaired attorney.
  3. Discern the interface between potential attorney disciplinary action and impairment as well as possible reporting obligations.
  4. Identify confidential, safe, free, and supportive resources available to the impaired legal professional, their family members, and their colleagues.
  5. Apply wellness tips that attorneys can apply in daily life, without much effort, that will positively impact mental health, in both the personal and professional realms.


  • Setting the Stage: Road to Redemption

  • Setting the Stage: Legal Profession Well-Being Studies
    • Krill, Johnson & Albert Legal Profession Study
    • 2019 ALM/Law.Com Study
    • 2021 DC & CA Attorney Stress Study
    • 2023 DC & CA Suicide/Loneliness Study

  • Who We Are & What We Face
    • Risk Characteristics of Attorneys
    • Pressures of the Workplace
    • Stigma/Conspiracy of Silence
    • Attorney Impairment & Regulation Data

  • Identifying Impairment Signs in Ourselves & Others
    • Contacting LAP for Another/Self
    • What to Look for in a Colleague
    • Best Practices in Approaching a Colleague
    • Responsibilities of a Partner or Supervisory Lawyer
      • MRPC 5.1 & 5.3
      • MRPC 8.3 (a)
      • Formal Legal Ethics Opinions

  • The Impaired Lawyer's Responsibilities
    • MRPC 1.1
    • MRPC 1.16(a)
    • Seeking Help
    • What is the LAP

  • The Law Firm's Responsibilities
    • Changes to Rules, Policies & Procedures
    • Changes to Firm Culture
    • Well-Being Business Plans
    • Resources

  • What Can One Person Do? Strategies for Improving Well-Being
    • Boundaries
    • Disconnect
    • Manage the Apps
    • Unfollow the Unhealthy
    • Schedule Self-Care Time
Topics covered include: Competence Issues Ethics Mental Health Substance Abuse
Duration of this webinar: 60 minutes
Originally broadcast: December 11, 2023 11:00 AM PT
Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Credits

*CLE credit is only available to Justia Connect Pros. Not a Pro? Upgrade today>>

California CLE

Status: Approved

Credits: 1.0 Prevention and Detection Competence

Earn Credit Until: December 10, 2025

North Carolina CLE

Status: Approved

Credits: 1.0 Professional Well-Being

Earn Credit Until: December 31, 2024

South Carolina CLE

Status: Approved

Credits: 1.0 Substance Abuse/Mental Health

Difficulty: All Levels

Earn Credit Until: December 31, 2024

Texas CLE

Status: Approved

Credits: 1.0 Legal Ethics

Earn Credit Until: November 30, 2024

Looking for CLE credit? Visit CLE Center CLE Accreditation
Laurie J. Besden
Laurie J. Besden Executive Director
Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers of PA, Inc.
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. Read More ›
Tracy L. Kepler
Tracy L. Kepler Risk Control Consulting Director
CNA's Lawyers Insurance Program
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 law practice. 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, 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. Read More ›
Watch Related Videos