MCLE Opinion 19

MCLE Opinion 19 – Substance abuse, mental health disorders, stress and work/life balance topics.


The MCLE Board is concerned about the effects of substance abuse, mental health disorders, stress and work/life balance on legal practitioners in the Commonwealth of Virginia and on the quality of legal services provided to the public. Because the MCLE Board believes that education on these topics will be beneficial in addressing these issues, it will consider topics pertaining to substance abuse, mental health disorders, stress management and work/life balance for CLE credit under certain circumstances.  

The presentation and written instructional materials must be specifically directed to attorneys, and the topics must be discussed in the context of the legal profession and the effects on the quality of legal services provided to the public.  

Presentations that focus on developing awareness of substance abuse or mental illness and related problems in the practice of law would be approvable and may include such topics as recognizing signs of substance abuse or mental illness in oneself or one's colleagues, impairment, intervention, and the lawyer assistance programs available.

Stress management presentations that focus on developing awareness of stress and stress-related problems in the practice of law would be approvable and may include such topics as personality profiles susceptible to stress, work/life balance, recognizing signs of stress in oneself or one's colleagues, instituting preventative measures individually and the development of policies within the law firm or legal department for dealing with stress-impaired attorneys.

A presentation on the effects of substance abuse, mental health disorders, stress or work/life balance on the legal profession may receive ethics credit only to the extent that the focus of the presentation and the written instructional materials are on the ethical considerations  addressed in the Rules of Professional Conduct and the disciplinary system, including those issues that would trigger the reporting requirements of  Rules of Professional Conduct 8.3(d), or which address malpractice prevention.

Credit will not be given to presentations which focus on personal stress reduction techniques, such as breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, counseling options, or reevaluating personal career decisions of the attorney.  

[MCLE Regulations 103(c)]   

Approved effective 11/1/2009  



Updated: Apr 15, 2010