The District of Columbia Bar this month released an ethics opinion in which it examined the role lawyers and office staff should play when they believe an attorney colleague in their law firm or government agency may be mentally impaired.

In the opinion, the D.C. Legal Ethics Committee sought to clarify when attorneys’ impairments may or may not trigger mandatory reporting obligations. The opinion also sets out guidelines for when supervising attorneys and colleagues should address seemingly impaired behavior, short of mandatory reporting.

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