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The stories below are true.

You are not alone.


These are stories shared by lawyers, judges, and law school students about their personal experiences with mental health, substance abuse, and healing.


If you find yourself struggling with any personal concerns, whether similar to these stories or different please contact us for free, confidential assistance


The LAP Files

True Tales of Survival: Sobriety Can’t Wait

The LAP Files - True Tales of Survival: Anxiety

“I use the skills that I learned in LAP all the time.” – Existing LAP Advocate


“I was born in a loving, middle-class family in Baltimore. Drinking was a way of life, cultural. Cocktails before dinner were common. At a family party, right after we took your coat, we offered you a drink. It was expected that when your drink was empty, we would promptly refill it. It was social and, from my perspective, normal. When I got married and moved out of the home, I continued that custom. I came home from the law office and had a nightly drink, or two…”

“My journey to recovery began on May 6th, 1995 in a hotel room in the little Havana section of Miami. That was the turning point for me. I had for some years developed a tolerance for alcohol and although still able to function reasonably well it was a problem. I had been appointed to the bench at the age of thirty. I had established a very successful private practice. Eleven years later I suffered a serious back injury and after two surgeries I could not function without pain. I was seen at a pain clinic in a Baltimore hospital and given a variety of narcotics including morphine to be able to function…”

“I first noticed my mental health issues at a young age. As a child, I would frequently have trouble falling asleep due to racing thoughts consisting of worst case scenarios and fake conversations that were unlikely ever to arise. When I entered my teenage years, other thoughts began to materialize. These thoughts were much darker and would predominantly form in the winter months when sunlight was scarce. It was in high school when the rare suicidal thought began to arise. Although they were fleeting, their intensity in the moment should have forced me to seek help…”

“I have struggled with anxiety and depression for much of my life. During adolescence, feelings of depression would flood me without warning, at unpredictable intervals and with no apparent pattern or length. Similarly, I would find myself feeling anxious and worried regarding everyday tasks such as school. These feelings came and went through college and law school. For the most part, I was able to get through those patches, but I never determined a trigger and, other than a brief stint with a counselor during college, I never really discussed my thoughts or feelings with anyone at length…”

“It was about 14 years ago that I had a court appearance that I was extremely anxious about. I remember getting myself together in my tiny apartment after an all-night bender. The only thing that would calm me down before court was another drink. One drink turned into about two or three more, and then I was back to my usual state of numbness at 8am which of course meant much less anxiety and fear about court. Somehow, I managed to get myself to the courthouse where I stood in the assigned courtroom, about 30 minutes late, among 50 other lawyers with cases waiting to be called. I ran into another lawyer with whom I had some cases against in the past…”

If you have a story that you want to share anonymously, please contact Lisa Caplan, Director of the Lawyer Assistance Program at

Additional Resources

Learn more about MSBA’s health and wellness services for the entire legal profession by visiting the Health & Wellness Services page.

If you need help now, access emergency resources below.


The MSBA Lawyer Assistance Program

Over 40 Years of Help and Hope

Lawyers, like anyone else, face stress, burn out, and depression. Too often, they don’t have anywhere to turn before the problem gets worse, and a career and life are lost to substance abuse, mental health, or other personal problems. The Lawyer Assistance Program is available to all lawyers in Maryland and provides free, confidential assistance to lawyers, judges, and law school students by offering virtual or in-person assessment, referral, short-term counseling, and continued support to ensure long term success. We offer a network of counselors that can assist you no matter what state you are living in. Contact us for more information.

Lisa Caplan, LCSW-C, Director | 443-703-3042 |

Financial Assistance Available
The Lawyer Assistance Program offers financial assistance for Mental Health and Substance Abuse treatment.

Referring to the Lawyer Assistance Program
If you are concerned about another lawyer, you can make an anonymous referral to the Lawyer Assistance Program.


Contact Us For More Information: 888.388.5459

Lisa Caplan, LCSW-C

Director, Lawyer Assistance Program