What is the Florida Lawyers Assistance Program?
Florida Lawyers Assistance, Inc. is a non-profit corporation formed in 1986 in response to the Florida Supreme Court’s mandate that a program be created to identify and offer assistance to bar members who suffer from substance abuse, mental health, or other disorders which negatively affect their lives and careers (Bar Rule 2-9.11). FLA is independent of The Florida Bar, although it does receive funding from that organization.
Paramount to FLA is the protection of confidentiality for those attorneys who contact FLA for help. Confidentiality in voluntary cases is protected by a written contract with The Florida Bar which guarantees the confidentiality of FLA records, as well as by Bar Rule 3-7.1(j), Chap. 397.482-486, F.S., and other state and federal regulations. Judges, attorneys, law students, and support personnel who seek the assistance of FLA need not worry that FLA will report them to the Bar, the Board of Bar Examiners, or their employer. Information is shared with these entities only if the participating individual signs a waiver of confidentiality. FLA’s primary purpose is to assist the impaired attorney in his or her recovery.
For an introduction to FLA, please see this short description by FLA’s Executive Director, Michael Cohen.