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Thanking ‘Mr. Smith’

September 01, 2017
By Paul Dailing
Editor

Update: Camille Khodadad's firm was corrected from "Hall Prangle & Schoonveld" to "Much Shelist" in the sixth paragraph.


This issue talks about digital mediation and outlines how neutrals should prepare for the day a client asks for a chat window instead of a conference room. Staff writer Lauraann Wood did the story, Lisa Predko took the cover photos and graphic designer Jennifer Jenkins did the visual effects to half-digitalize our willing model, retired judge Susan Zwick, a neutral with JAMS.

They all, as always, did an amazing job.

This issue talks about the Diverse Attorney Pipeline Program, which helps arrange mentorships that guide women of color from law school through partnership. Reporter Dustin Seibert did the interview, Rena Naltsas took the photos and DAPP founders Tiffany Harper and Chasity Boyce volunteered their time to tell the program’s story.

Again, great work.

Seibert and Naltsas also came together for our Spaces segment’s look at Tomasik Kotin Kasserman’s new offices. Jenkins’ work on the spread is one of my favorite layouts of the year.

This issue has columns by Corboy & Demetrio’s Kenneth Lumb and Thomas Demetrio, Katz & Stefani’s Dan Stefani, Much Shelist’s Camille Khodadad, Duane Morris’ Neville Bilimoria, DLA Piper’s Christina Martini and National Material’s David Susler, all providing great insight on best practices and developing case law from attorneys at the top of their fields.

And this issue has a look at Mayer Brown’s Priya Ashley Desai and the volunteer work she does for the Coordinated Advice and Referral Program for Legal Services. Naltsas took the photo and former staff writer Emily Donovan turned in what will likely be her last byline in the magazine. Donovan moved to Florida for graduate school. Similarly, staff writer Lauren Duncan recently left the magazine to start her next chapter in Wisconsin. We’ll miss them both.

But of all the people to thank for making this issue possible, one name won’t appear in its pages. I know this name, and reporter Sarah Mansur knows this name, but for the rest of us, let’s just call him “Bob Smith.” Thank you, “Mr. Smith,” for making this issue possible.

If you turn to Page 22, you can read his story. He’s a prominent local attorney whose career early on took a path too common in the legal profession. In the days of drinks over lunch and booze as an omnipresent stress reliever, he was, in his words, “a garden-variety alcoholic” whose daily routine included a quart of liquor.

Sober since 1984, he stressed in his conversations with Mansur that he’s still a recovering alcoholic. His struggle is ongoing, but he has since that time helped others with their own ongoing struggles through work with the Lawyers’ Assistance Program. The Chicago-based nonprofit is a resource for attorneys, judges and law students or their families facing substance abuse, addiction or mental health problems.

Alcoholics Anonymous helps him stay sober, but the Lawyers’ Assistance Program offers something that program doesn’t: People who understand the particular stresses and struggles lawyers face. Almost 23 percent of lawyers struggle with drugs or alcohol at some point in their careers, according to a 2014 study from the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation They also report mental health issues, like anxiety and depression, at a higher rate than the general population.

The story Mansur turned in was balanced, powerful and nuanced, dealing with how the Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission handles professional misconduct hearings caused in whole or part by an addiction to booze or pills. It’s good. Very good. But it wouldn’t have been possible without a man we’ll only know as “Smith,” who was willing to share a story others might judge him for.

If you’re reading this, thank you. Thank you for sharing a painful story in the hopes someone will read it, see themselves in it and get the help they need.

The Lawyers’ Assistance Program can be reached at 1-800-LAP-1233, at illinoislap.org or at gethelp@illinoislap.org. If you see yourself in “Smith’s” story, please reach out.

Best,

Paul Dailing

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