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Ellen C. Brotman of BrotmanLaw. Ellen C. Brotman of BrotmanLaw.

Attorneys experience problematic drinking, drug use and mental health distress at a higher rate than other professionals. As the holiday season shifts into high gear, take a moment to check in on your mental and emotional well-being and—while you are at it—check up on your partners and colleagues also. It’s not just a good idea, it is also part of your obligation as an attorney. Whether an impaired attorney is in your firm, beside you as co-counsel on a case, or even opposing you in a matter, your awareness of that impairment implicates several of the Rules of Professional Conduct. In response to this issue, in October, the District of Columbia Bar issued Ethics Opinion 377. This opinion provides advice on how to address your ethical obligations when dealing with an attorney whose illness or addiction is negatively affecting the lawyer’s ability to provide competent and diligent representation.

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