News and Information
December 13, 2019

Judge and Lawyer Well-being Program Launches New Website

The Virginia Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program (VJLAP) unveiled a new website on Nov. 20 as it looks toward an expansion in the coming year. 

The new website features a clear message about the program’s mission, recovery stories from people who have used the service, and resources for lawyers, judges, law students, and their families. 

“We wanted a site that reflected professionalism and compassion, and that's really what we think this site does,” says Tim Carroll, executive director of VJLAP. “It’s warmer and more welcoming than what we had before, but it still provides the utilitarian components. We wanted the website to reach people in a more personal way.”

Carroll says they also wanted to provide resources for someone who isn't going to reach out to VJLAP in person, but needs help navigating issues on their own.

A generous grant from the Virginia Law Foundation funded the renaming, rebranding, and new website. Carroll says they sought to retain colors and imagery from the original website and logo. The lighthouse serves a double meaning: First, it represents The Lighthouse Plan, VJLAP’s ongoing strategic business plan adopted in 2015.

“And a lighthouse is a beacon in the storm to guide people to a safe shore or to avoid any hazards,” says Carroll. “That's really what we are. We’re that beacon of hope for people who are suffering from addiction or mental health issues.”

The organization, formerly known as Virginia Lawyers Helping Lawyers, is growing in response to the legal community’s recent focus on the prevalence of addition, mental health issues, and struggles with wellness within its ranks. A national 2017 report, of which Supreme Court of Virginia Chief Justice Donald W. Lemons was an author, outlined the problem and offered recommendations for change. And a May 2019 report spearheaded by VSB Immediate Past President Leonard C. Heath Jr. identified specific aspects or characteristics of the practice of law that can serve as a risk to a lawyer’s well-being.

The Supreme Court of Virginia approved a new wellness fee on active Virginia lawyers this year which will help fund VJLAP, CLE courses, and other initiatives relating to wellness, behavioral health, and substance abuse.

Carroll says 2019 was the dawn of a new era for the organization, and 2020 will bring the expanded vision to fruition. A new, larger board started in the fall. A deputy clinical director was hired in September. Upcoming film work with Virginia CLE will bring video testimonials to the website. And the Court funding allows the hiring of two new field directors that will expand VJLAP’s reach in southwest Virginia and Tidewater. They’re scheduled to start on Jan. 13. 

“We know that folks are out there, and we know that folks could use our help,” says Carroll. “We've been limited in our ability to do that before, but now we've got the new folks and attention to our program. We’re just hoping we can serve more people and that’s really what we’re here for.”

VJLAP’s new website, which has garnered nearly 500 hits in three weeks and was designed by Richmond-based Torx, is at https://vjlap.org.

Learn more about lawyer well-being on the Bar’s website.

Updated: Dec 13, 2019