Who we are
The New Mexico Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program (NMJLAP) is a free service for all members of the New Mexico bench and bar and law students. NMJLAP offers confidential professional and peer assistance to help individuals identify and address problems with alcohol and other drugs, depression, and other mental health/emotional disorders. NMJLAP assists in reducing public harm caused by impaired members of the legal profession and helps improve the health and welfare of its members by facilitating early intervention and treatment.
The Hidden Problems of the Profession
Competition, long hours, high expectations, and chronic stress can wear down even the most competent and energetic lawyer, often leading to depression, anxiety, relationship problems, gambling issues, substance abuse, and other problems. National surveys show rates of depression and alcoholism among members of the legal profession are at least two times higher than the general population. A recent multistate survey of judges identified five significant stressors: being overloaded, isolation, decision burden, emotional trauma, and limited discretion, which can negatively impact social relationships and physical health, and contribute to alcohol abuse, depression, and other mental health and emotional disorders.
The N.M. Rules of Professional Conduct (Rule 16-803) and the N.M. Code of Judicial Conduct (Rule 21-300) provide strict confidentiality for individuals seeking assistance from the NMJLAP. All communications and actions taken by NMJLAP with its clients are held in the strictest confidence and are not reported to any individual or entity outside of NMJLAP, including any professional disciplinary agency, without the client’s permission. Likewise, the identities of individuals who contact NMJLAP with concerns about a legal professional are confidential and not disclosed to the person referred.
Breaking through the Conspiracy of Silence - Your Part
Individuals who suspect misconduct by a lawyer or judge they believe is related to substance abuse may meet their duty to inform the appropriate professional authority by contacting the NMJLAP (see Rules 16-803(F) and 21-300(E). When you contact NMJLAP you meet your ethical obligation to your colleagues and the public and you initiate the helping process, thereby increasing the likelihood that the individual’s situation will improve and the potential for harm will be reduced. You may call anonymously and with nothing more substantial than a concern - our job is to evaluate if there’s a problem, determine what kind of assistance is needed, and develop an appropriate plan of action. Your degree of involvement in this process will always be self-determined and respected.
It takes courage and integrity to help someone in need.