Avoiding Liability Bulletin – April 2016

Shortly after writing the March 2016 Bulletin, where I wrote about “driving under the influence” convictions leading to disciplinary action by a licensing authority, I learned of a study of alcohol use by lawyers and alcohol use, which has been described as rendering “alarming results.” The study was conducted by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and the American Bar Association, and it concluded that as many as one out of three lawyers is a problem drinker and one out of four has some form of depression or anxiety. The study’s conclusions raise concerns for public protection, that is, the concern about lawyers with alcohol problems representing clients.

I don’t know how a similar study of therapists, counselors and mental health practitioners of all licensures would measure up, but that aside, there appears to be a fair number of potential clients for practitioners who can market effectively to those particular drinkers described in the study! On a more sober note, it is not surprising that licensing boards for all professions take seriously criminal convictions involving drinking and driving. While such a conviction does not necessarily mean that enforcement action will be justified or ultimately taken against one’s license, the licensing authority, when notified of the conviction, will certainly inquire.

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Richard Leslie

Richard S. Leslie is an attorney and acknowledged expert on the interrelationship between law and the practice of marriage and family therapy and psychotherapy. Most recently, he was a consultant to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) and has written articles regarding legal and ethical issues for their Family Therapy Magazine. Prior to his work with AAMFT, Richard was Legal Counsel to the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) for approximately twenty-two years. While there, he also served as their director of Government Relations and tirelessly advocated for due process and fairness for licensees and applicants.

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