FAQs

What is The Virginia Judges Lawyers Assistance Program?

The Virginia Judges Lawyers Assistance Program (VJLAP), formerly known as the Lawyers Helping Lawyers Program, was organized in 1985 to provide confidential, non-disciplinary assistance to members of the Virginia legal profession, as well as their family members, who experience impairment as a result of substance abuse. 

We strive to provide help before a situation becomes a disciplinary matter.

VJLAP is a Virginia non-stock corporation endorsed by the:

  • Virginia Bar Association
  • Virginia Board of Bar Examiners 
  • Virginia State Bar
  • Virginia Trial Lawyers Association

Our team is comprised of professional staff and a statewide network of volunteers. 

In the fall of 2003, VJLAP began providing help to members of the legal profession also suffering from mental health problems. Substance abuse typically occurs as a result of mental health issues. We need to address mental health needs to have the best treatment outcomes.

Take a look at this video to learn more about us.

What Does The Virginia Judges Lawyers Assistance Program Do?

VJLAP provides a collection of highly effective services tailored to meet the needs of each individual judge, lawyer, law student or family member. We assist by:

  • Verifying a problem
  • Planning and implementing interventions
  • Providing treatment referrals
  • Conducting assessments
  • Offering peer support for clients and counseling for families
  • Establishing and monitoring rehabilitation contracts
  • Presenting statewide educational programs

The good news is that whomever reaches out for help early has an excellent chance of recovery.

Does The Virginia Judges Lawyers Assistance Program Involve Disciplinary Action?

No. The founders of this program decided early on that it should not be an arm or a substitute for the function of the Virginia State Bar disciplinary committees. Our overarching goal is to help the impaired professional before his or her behavior becomes a disciplinary matter for the Virginia State Bar.

Although VJLAP is not a part of the Virginia State Bar’s disciplinary system, we accept referrals from the Virginia State Bar that occur as a part of the disciplinary process.

Is consultation confidential?

Yes. The program is designed to be confidential so that fellow lawyers, judges, family or friends can refer an impaired legal professional to the program without fear that we will refer him or her to the disciplinary system. 

The amendment to Rule 8.3 (d) adopted by the Virginia Supreme Court, effective 1/1/2000, equates the intervenor/impaired lawyer to the relationship of lawyer/client in the Virginia Judges Lawyers Assistance Program so that matters learned or developed in the course of the program will have the same privilege as exists in any lawyer/client relationship. In addition, lawyer-volunteers are exempt from the Virginia State Bar’s requirement to report lawyer misconduct when they are performing authorized activities of the Virginia Judges Lawyers Assistance Program.

Is There a Charge for Any of These Services?

No. Our services and educational programs are free, thanks to financial support from the:

  • American National Lawyers Insurance Reciprocal
  • Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys
  • Virginia Bar Association
  • Virginia State Bar
  • Virginia Trial Lawyers Association

Is The Virginia Judges Lawyers Assistance Program Successful?

Yes. VJLAP has been very successful in providing individualized programs to meet the needs of its clients. 

Although VJLAP is confidential and operates independently of the Virginia State Bar disciplinary system, one sign of our effectiveness is the increasing number of referrals from the Virginia State Bar Character and Fitness Committee. VJLAP views these referrals as a vote of confidence. 

Over the years, VJLAP has come to serve not only older, experienced and established lawyers but also to serve those much newer to the profession, including law students. 

Perhaps some of the best indicators of our success are the many stories from participants in our program who have overcome their problems and once again become successful and productive professionals and community leaders.

Does The Virginia Judges Lawyers Assistance Program Offer Educational Services?

Yes. VJLAP offers educational services to help all members of the legal community understand the impact of alcoholism, drug addiction and mental health disorders. 

Education can help remove barriers that hamper recognition of problems and steps toward recovery. 

VJLAP provides education to:

  • Firms
  • Judges
  • Legal assistance groups
  • Legal secretaries and other related organizations 
  • Local bar groups

We hope that education will prevent disciplinary problems for the legal professional, protect clients, support the lawyer’s family and professional associates as well as strengthen the profession.

Programs can be standardized or specially designed for your group and are a free service to the profession. Some programs will qualify for Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits. Call VJLAP Executive Director, Jim Leffler, for more information, or e-mail the program at info@valhl.org.

Click here to learn about observable signs and symptoms of an impaired lawyer, judge or law student.

Are There Other Resources for Information About Lawyer Assistance Programs?

Every State Bar supports some form of assistance for attorneys. We list other resources below:

The National Institute on Drug Abuse: www.nida.nih.gov

How Does The Virginia Judges Lawyers Assistance Program Work?

You can call 24 hours a day to 1-877-LHL IN VA (877-545-4682) or to (804) 644-3212. The executive director and a statewide network of volunteers respond to referrals and develop an action plan that best fits each unique situation. They work to verify the problem and to provide the necessary support and treatment.

You can also reach us by:

  • Contacting any VAJLAP board member or volunteer directly
  • Emailing us at info@valhl.org
  • Faxing us at (804) 644-5510

Writing us at 1015 East Main Street, Ground Floor
Richmond, VA 23219

How Can I Support the Work of The Virginia Judges Lawyers Assistance Program?

There are three ways you can support us: Giving, referring and volunteering.

If you’d like to know more about becoming a VJLAP volunteer, call the executive director at (804) 644-3212 for details.

If you’d like to contribute financially to the work of VJLAP, we welcome contributions to both The Virginia Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program and/or the Chapple Memorial Fund. 

  • Gifts to VJLAP support the daily operation of the program and will be tax-deductible. 
  • Gifts to the Chapple Memorial Fund provide funding for attorneys to seek treatment for substance abuse problems and are also tax-deductible. 
  • Address contributions to the group of your choice:

    The Virginia Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program / Chapple Memorial Fund
    1015 East Main Street, Ground Floor
    Richmond, VA 23219
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