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As the Director of the Missouri Lawyers' Assistance Program (MOLAP), I want to extend an invitation to partner with MOLAP in reducing the risk to the reputation, integrity and profitability of your firm.
An associate or partner who is not performing is in fact putting your firm at risk. Often, this lawyer can be restored to an acceptable level of performance and productivity with appropriate mentoring within the firm. Unfortunately, for some mentoring alone is not adequate. A lawyer with an untreated impairment such as depression or substance abuse will need additional help. The cost to the firm, if serious personal problems such as these are left untreated, is staggering in terms of absenteeism, mistakes, poor client service, ethical/professional violations, damage to the firm's reputation, lost business, and insurance premiums.
The following steps may be helpful:
Talk with the non-performing attorney, pointing out the deficits, clarifying the firm's expectations and setting a time line for change. Ask what the firm can do to help. Keep the conversation about performance and avoid trying to diagnose personal problems. It would be well to remind the attorney that in the event a personal problem may be contributing to the performance problem, the Missouri Lawyers' Assistance Program (MOLAP) is available with professional, confidential assistance. (Provide phone number 800-688-7859 or MOLAP Brochure)
If a second corrective interview is necessary, contact MOLAP for coaching to discuss various options and respective strategies. These options could include:
Do nothing (probably not desirable) Fire the attorney (may be appropriate, but perhaps unwise) Direct referral to MOLAP, with MOLAP facilitating an evaluation, observing appropriate confidentiality protocols. Discuss need, if any, for intervention (MOLAP can train participants and facilitate) Treatment referral, if appropriate In addition to these services, MOLAP can help by providing education and prevention programs in your firm, such as stress, depression and substance abuse. In summary, an untreated impaired attorney can be very costly to your firm in terms of firm reputation, office morale, poor client service, mistakes, professional and ethical problems, and lost business.
The good news is that help is available. Why not partner with MOLAP to assure the continued success of your firm? Please let me know how I can help.
Anne Chambers, DirectorMissouri Lawyers' Assistance Program
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Paid for by The Missouri Bar Sebrina Barrett, Executive Director PO Box 119 Jefferson City, MO 65102