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The District of Columbia Bar is the second largest unified bar association in the United States. The D.C. Bar’s core functions, supported by member dues, are the registration of lawyers, operation of a lawyer disciplinary system, maintenance of a Clients’ Security Fund, and certain other administrative operations. Many of the important educational and public service programs carried out by the Bar are made possible by voluntary contributions, user fees, and other nondues sources of income.

The Bar is governed by a Board of Governors composed of 20 lawyers selected by the active membership and three members of the public appointed by the Bar itself as nonvoting members. Created by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals in 1972, the precipitating force for the Bar’s creation was the legal community’s desire to have a single organization that could uphold the ethical standards and Rules of Professional Conduct.

The Bar’s mission is to provide service to the profession, the courts, and the community. The purposes of the Bar are to aid the court in carrying on and improving the administration of justice; to foster and maintain high ideals of integrity, learning, competence in public service, and high standards of conduct; to safeguard the proper professional interest of the members of the Bar; to encourage the formation and activities of volunteer bar associations; to provide a forum for and to publish information relating to the discussion of subjects pertaining to the practice of law, the science of jurisprudence and law reform, and the relations of the Bar to the public; and to carry on a continuing program of legal research and education and make reports and recommendations in the technical fields of substantive law, practice, and procedure, so that the public responsibility of the legal professional is more effectively discharged.

LawHelp DC is a project of the District of Columbia Bar Pro Bono Program in collaboration with the D.C. Consortium of Legal Services Providers. We receive funding from the Legal Services Corporation (through the Neighborhood Legal Services Program) and the D.C. Bar Foundation. LawHelp DC provides legal and self-help information on certain topics, all of which are governed by D.C. or federal laws.

LawHelp DC provides general information only. Information provided is not legal advice, which can only be obtained from a lawyer. LawHelp DC makes every effort to keep the legal education materials up to date but laws change frequently. Therefore, LawHelp DC does not guarantee the accuracy of this information. LawHelp DC is not an attorney advertisement, solicitation, or e-mail advice service.

Lawyers typically work in high-stress environments," says Lynn Phillips, director of the D.C. Bar Lawyer Counseling Program. "They worry about billable hours, they work long days, face hard deadlines, take cases on contingency, are under enormous pressure to bring in business, and they are forced into adversarial roles. It's an incredibly demanding profession-and sometimes people suffer under the weight of those demands. Sometimes they need help to carry the load.

To provide that help the D.C. Bar Lawyer Counseling Program is designed to provide counseling to lawyers, judges, and law students who are struggling with drug and alcohol problems, or with other mental health problems, such as stress, depression, workplace dissatisfaction, and marriage and family difficulties. Clients who seek counseling are seen free of charge, and all inquiries are kept strictly confidential. "A lawyer in need of counseling who calls our program can receive help immediately if it is needed that quickly," says Phillips. "As for anyone else, we're almost always able to see them within a couple of days."

A lawyer, judge, or law student in need can be helped in one or more of the four following ways: confidential telephone access to a trained professional counselor; assessment and referral to appropriate treatment programs; direct personal counseling; and volunteer aid from fellow lawyers who have experienced the same type of problem.

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