Jan 02, 2019
The Other Bar – Supporting Recovery in the Legal Profession
Jan 02, 2019
By Mee Mee Wong
The Other Bar is a network of recovering lawyers, law students and judges throughout the state, dedicated to assisting others within the legal profession who are suffering from alcohol and substance abuse problems and other addictions. It is a private, non-profit corporation founded on the principle of anonymity and provides services in strict confidentiality.
In existence for over twenty-five years, it serves people from all walks of the profession, including judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, large firm partners and solo practitioners. The Other Bar’s purpose is to provide strength and support, which it does through entirely voluntary AA-type meetings in dozens of cities and towns across California. This network of "lawyers helping lawyers" comprises over 30 peer support meetings throughout the state, most of which meet every week and serve more than 600 lawyers each year who support each other in recovery and assist others in becoming and staying clean and/or sober. The Other Bar is not a 12-step program, although many meetings follow the 12-step model. Individual meeting formats are decided at the local level. For many, however, The Other Bar serves as a bridge to the larger community of recovery options. All recovering lawyers, judges, and law students are welcomed regardless of their recovery model: 12-step, medical, therapeutic, religious, secular, etc.
In addition to its basic recovery programs, The Other Bar also provides education and outreach in the form of MCLE programs, both online and live, focused on recovery. And through its Shot of Sobriety Loan Program, it assists with the costs associated with hospitalization and residential treatment for attorneys and judges who need it. Finally, it provides two retreats in the fall, one for men and one for women, and a statewide networking conference each spring, where lawyers, judges, law students and their families come together to share their experience, strength and hope. Need-based scholarships to the retreats and conference are available through the Judge William Beard Memorial Fund.
The Other Bar is completely unrelated to the discipline system of the State Bar of California. In fact, many Other Bar participants have had no disciplinary problems at all. And unlike the State Bar Lawyer Assistance Program, the Other Bar has no dues or fees for participation and serves a community of lawyers, judges, law students and others in the legal community at various stages of recovery. It is the only network that focuses on continuing recovery -- for life. It is also the only recovery forum where lawyers can openly work on problems and pressures directly related to the practice of law. Lawyers can be assured of complete confidentiality and the mentorship of others with decades of experience with the same challenges.
If you, or someone you know, is suffering from alcoholism or chemical dependency, you can speak with one of its professional consultants (800.222.0767) who can immediately respond to an individual’s concerns with hands-on help with recovery and referrals. These consultants, David Mann (Northern California) and Greg Dorst (Southern California), provide confidential assistance and both have personal knowledge of what it means to be an attorney in need of help with alcoholism and/or drug addiction. Their hands-on help may even be a ride to your first meeting. Donations to the non-profit are encouraged to support this important resource for substance abuse support.