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Wellness & Beyond

Making a Difference: The Power of Volunteering

April 19, 2024

By Niki Irish

The D.C. Bar Lawyer Assistance Program (LAP) is fortunate to have a cadre of dedicated volsupport group meetingunteers making a difference in our legal community. In honor of National Volunteer Week, we reflect on and express gratitude for our volunteers’ incredible contributions. Whether sharing their experience, strength, and hope in a presentation or connecting directly with a D.C. Bar member or law student to offer mentoring support, volunteers play a vital role in LAP’s work.

Why Being an LAP Volunteer Matters

Lawyers face a myriad of stressors, from high-pressure work environments to weighty client expectations. The demanding nature of the profession can take a toll, and some lawyers may find themselves grappling with personal and professional challenges that affect their overall well-being. LAP volunteers make a difference through:

  • Mentoring Relationships. Volunteers provide one-on-one encouragement and support to LAP clients, many of whom benefit from the connection with someone who has “been there, done that” and offers validation and hope. 
  • Sharing of Lived Experiences. The effect of volunteer stories is significant. After a volunteer shares their story at an LAP outreach presentation, we often receive a call from a lawyer or a law student who attended the event. They reach out for help after seeing themselves in the volunteer’s story, or because they want to learn how to support their colleague or loved one who is struggling.

Offering one’s time provides benefits for the volunteer as well. Studies have shown that volunteering positively affects mental and physical well-being. By giving back to their community, individuals can reduce stress, combat feelings of loneliness and depression, and increase overall happiness and life satisfaction. Moreover, research indicates that volunteering is associated with lower blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease, and increased longevity. Engaging in volunteer activities not only makes a positive impact on the community, but it also provides a profound sense of personal fulfillment.

Who Can Be a Volunteer?

LAP seeks volunteers who are D.C. Bar members, judges, or law students and have faced personal and professional challenges such as chronic stress, addiction, mental health issues, and other difficulties. Your personal experience can give hope to others struggling with similar problems. By sharing your story and providing support, you can make a significant impact on the lives of those in need.

We maintain a diverse group of volunteers who reflect the D.C. Bar membership and the clients we serve. Representation matters — it’s empowering for clients to see someone like them reaching out. By having volunteers with varied backgrounds and experiences, we can work together to make a greater impact.

An Invitation to Get Involved

As we celebrate the incredible work of our current volunteers, we also want to extend an invitation to those of you who are ready to make a difference. There are many opportunities to help us create positive change in the legal community:

  1. Visit our website to learn more about the Lawyer Assistance Program.
  2. Sign up to volunteer by completing our volunteer form or emailing [email protected].
  3. Share your story through our website’s “Voices of Recovery” page. If preferred, you can remain anonymous.
  4. Get in touch with an LAP staff member to answer your questions. Please email us at [email protected].

To our current volunteers: Thank you. Your generosity, compassion, and commitment humble us. Whether you’ve been volunteering with us for years or have recently joined our efforts, your contributions make a real difference in the lives of others and improve the well-being of our legal community.

To all volunteers, wherever you volunteer, thank you. Happy National Volunteer Week!

Niki Irish is outreach and education coordinator for the D.C. Bar Lawyer Assistance Program.