As part of their service and applied learning project, Paralegal students in the Ethics for the Law Office class helped spread the word about Wisconsin Lawyers Assistance Program (WisLAP). WisLAP is a member service of the State Bar of Wisconsin which provides confidential assistance to persons and families who work in the law field.
Students met with Linda Albert, WisLAP coordinator to learn about what the program offers, how to identify someone in trouble and why spreading the word about WisLAP is so important.
In class, students learned that attorneys owe a duty of competence to their clients. Attorneys must possess the requisite legal knowledge and skill, be thorough, and be reasonably prepared to represent the client. Competence may be affected adversely by mental health issues and substance abuse issues. The legal profession ranks high in substance abuse related problems and it entails a high degree of stress which can adversely affect an attorney’s performance.
Paralegal Program Chair, Erin Everett explained, “When the students go into the work force, they will need to be able to recognize signs of incompetence and report them to the necessary person or authorities right away. By referring a troubled attorney to the WisLAP program, the paralegal helps the client and the attorney at the same time.”
Paralegal student, Karen Scheffler reflected on her experience. “We were introduced to Linda Albert during the project and she opened her heart and shared her experience with our class. Welcoming us with open arms, Linda gave us an opportunity to realize there is more to being an attorney and/or part of the legal field than just “the law.” She showed us even the most educated and respected people may have problems and need help (even if they don’t realize it themselves). WisLAP’s confidential services are invaluable to anyone in the law field. Distributing the brochures to local counseling agencies made what we learned more real. I am very grateful for the experience given to our class and hope to be able to continue to help promote the great work of WisLAP.”
Linda Albert, program coordinator for WisLAP expressed her appreciation towards the paralegal student’s efforts stating, “I found the students to be very enthusiastic. They understood the goals of the program and helped promote it at local treatment places. This project assisted WisLAP, the community and also the treatment centers by making them aware of this valuable resource.”
If you or someone you know works in the law field and is struggling with physical, mental or emotional health problems, please contact WisLAP at 1-800-543-2625.