August 28, 2014

Alternative Discipline Program

The Alternative Discipline Program addresses the substance abuse and mental health problems of attorneys against whom formal disciplinary proceedings have been initiated in the State Bar Court.

I. Program Authorization

Effective January 1, 2002, Business & Professions Code §6230, et seq. were added to the State Bar Act. §6231 directs the Board of Governors of The State Bar of California to establish and administer an Attorney Diversion and Assistance Program (Lawyers Assistance Program - LAP).

The State Bar has implemented the LAP, which primarily addresses the substance abuse and mental health problems of attorneys who are referred to LAP or who voluntarily seek to participate in LAP. The program offers support and structure to attorneys recovering from these disorders.

II. Scope of State Bar Court Alternative Discipline Program

The State Bar Court Alternative Discipline Program (ADP) represents the first comprehensive program in the United States for addressing the identification, assessment and treatment of substance abuse and mental health problems of respondents in the discipline process. The ADP is designed to protect the public, the courts and the legal profession, while respondents with substance abuse or mental health problems receive treatment.

The ADP has a close and mutually beneficial relationship with LAP. The ADP neither duplicates the LAP processes nor usurps the treatment function. The ADP seeks to identify and refer respondents with substance abuse or mental health problems to LAP in order that respondents so afflicted may be treated and rehabilitated. A respondent must be accepted into LAP to be eligible for the ADP.

Recognizing its obligation to protect the public, the courts and the legal profession, the State Bar Court retains jurisdiction over those attorneys in LAP who have pending disciplinary proceedings and makes all appropriate judicial decisions, including any determination regarding the attorney's eligibility to practice law while participating in LAP.

• Rules of Procedure - Rules 5.380 - 5.389