NJLAP’s commitment to women in the legal profession began in 1994 and that commitment as grown into two strong helping entities, the Women’s Attorney Peer Council Group (WAPC) and the Women Caring for Women (WCW) group. The WAPC group is a specialized program of female attorneys reaching out and helping other women attorneys experiencing difficulties with substance abuse and gambling issues. The WCW group focuses on women attorneys living with issues of anxiety and depression. Each group began as separate meetings, but over time, found value in sharing their experiences. The combined meetings evolved to incorporate the issues of addiction, recovery, and mental health.
Meetings are held on the second Saturday of every month, from 9:30 am to 12:00pm, at the New Jersey Law Center facilitated by an NJLAP staff member. Attendance is "by invitation only." This policy ensures that the meeting's integrity is maintained for its current members. Those newly entering the group have been screened for appropriateness by one of NJLAP's counselors. Meeting with an NJLAP counselor provides each new client with an evaluation and specially designed Helping Plan with the broadest range of appropriate resources. NJLAP's goal and approach is holistic and offers each individual resources that address the whole person, not just one aspect.
All meetings include a breakfast for the members and a one hour educational session. The educational sessions are delivered by female mental health/substance abuse professionals and cover a wide range of topics. The Program Counselor also delivers educational presentations and facilitates group discussions on topics of interest. Topics range from Women's issues of health and wellness to grief, co-dependency, anonymity in the workplace, relapse triggers and family of origin issues to name only a few. One Women's group member stated: "Every month there is a topic and a discussion that has helped me both to remain sober and to deal better with the stress of being a lawyer."
by Denise Golonka, Clinical Manager
New Jersey Lawyers Assistance Program