New Educational Video Encourages Law Students to Face Substance Abuse Problems

WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 23, 2009 – American University Washington College of Law has produced a new video aimed at helping law students face substance abuse issues. The video, “Getting Healthy, Staying Healthy,” is designed to help law schools and counselors encourage students with drug or alcohol problems to get help now, before the problem has a serious impact on their legal careers.

“This educational video is a significant new tool in our efforts to support the health and future of law students,” says David Jaffe, associate dean for student affairs at American University Washington College of Law and producer of the video. “While Student Affairs offices and state Lawyer Assistance Programs are doing all they can through outreach and education, many law students believe they can “go it alone,” resisting reporting their problem to school counselors or other advisors for fear of it affecting their Bar admissions.  Students are not aware of the often far greater consequences of failing to disclose a serious problem, which can be a negative reflection on their character.”

 “Getting Healthy Staying Healthy” aims to get at the heart of this substance use matter, utilizing current and former law students and a number of supporting experts from all angles – bar associations, law schools, the practice, and the judiciary. The video features an interview with a successful attorney who explains how owning up to her substance abuse problem while still in law school saved her career. She encourages other law students to do the same.

“The ‘Getting Healthy Staying Healthy’ video is a terrific tool for law schools seeking to reach out to students with substance use issues, as well as to students seeking to help a classmate,” said Carolyn Lamm, president of the American Bar Association, who is interviewed in the video.  “The video speaks to students in a way that is honest and unvarnished. It reflects a realistic approach to getting help now in order to be better positioned for the challenges of future legal practice.”

The video will be distributed to deans and deans of students at law schools around the country as well as to Lawyer Assistance Programs (LAPs) hosted by bar associations in many states. Schools and LAPs are encouraged to decide for themselves how to best use the video by making it part of new student orientation, professional responsibility class, or even an event addressing substance abuse.