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An alternative to standard discipline

Lawyers, like you, are familiar with the State Bar Court of California and what it represents. Under investigation or discipline, you may feel frustrated or overwhelmed regardless of whether or not you agree with the allegations. However, depending on circumstances, you may not need to be subject to standard disciplinary methods.

The State Bar Court of California initially organized the Lawyers Assistance Program (LAP) to assist attorneys with substance abuse or mental health concerns. Lawyers can seek assistance from LAP even without first receiving disciplinary action. Participating attorneys receive confidential support and structure for recovery.

The Alternative Discipline Program

The Alternative Discipline Program (ADP) is separate from the standard discipline track and works closely with LAP and attorneys who are in the process of being disciplined. The program is designed to address the following:

  • Identify substance abuse or mental health problems.
  • Assess and treat mental health or substance abuse.
  • Protect the public, courts and overall legal profession while the attorney receives treatment.

The ADP refers respondents to LAP for treatment and rehabilitation.

Can I still practice while receiving treatment?

If you participate in the LAP program, the judge will determine whether or not you may continue to practice or if you must suspend your work while you complete the treatment program.

How is ADP different than the standard process?

Through the standard disciplinary procedure, the State Bar Court judge will review the facts and determine the level of discipline appropriate for the alleged misconduct. In some cases, you can enter into a stipulation, while in others you may be required to proceed to trial.

In order to participate in ADP, you will need to admit to the misconduct. The judge will then provide you will two choices for discipline. One will be lower level and imposed after you complete the ADP program. The second is higher levels of discipline that you are subject to if you do not complete the program successfully.

Speak to an attorney who is experienced with professional disciplinary and regulatory issues to discuss whether or not this program is the best option for you or if you would benefit from a different path. If you are proactive about your approach to the disciplinary action you will be better able to shape your case.

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