JLAP hosts annual fundraising dinner, honors advocates

November 20-26, 2017

By Becca Bona


On Tuesday, Nov. 7, judges, lawyers and mental health advocates gathered at Robinson Hall in downtown Little Rock for the Arkansas Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program’s (JLAP) annual Advocates Dinner.


Alongside food and a silent auction, individuals were honored who have made an impact on shaping JLAP into what it is today.


Gail Harber, PhD, the first executive director of the program, received the Justice Robert L. Brown Community Support Award.


The inaugural JLAP committee received the Distinguished Service Award. The list of honorees includes: Janet James Robb, Chair; Joe Martindale, MD; Gail Harber, PhD; Gary Burbank; Jim Smith; Judge Kathleen Bell; Phillip Barling, PhD; Judge David Laser; and Chris Thomas (in memory).


Formed in 2000 by the Arkansas Supreme Court, JLAP provides mental health and substance abuse services to Arkansas’ judges, lawyers, and their family members. The program is funded through lawyers’ license fees, but since its inception has seen a need beyond what these fees can provide.


Organizers have turned to fundraising to continue the founding mission of providing services to individuals in need all across the state. As of early November 2017, JLAP has raised over $70k to do just that.


Executive Director Dr. Sarah Cearley says, “The money funds grants that allow us to serve judges, lawyers, their families, and law students in every area of the state. As the therapy services are at no cost to our clients who come to us in Little Rock, we can do the same for clients [statewide] because of these donations.”


It is estimated that ten to twenty percent of Arkansas’ attorneys and judges suffer from addiction or mental illness.


Cearley says, “We have had more new referrals this year than in past years – 118 to date. Many of these are now served in areas around the state – thanks to donations to JLAP through events like the Advocates Dinner and other types of gifts.”


Along with the annual Advocates Dinner, JLAP hosted the Chris Thomas Memorial walk last spring to raise money for the same purpose.


“The walk honors lawyers and law students who have died from natural causes as well as those who have died by suicide,” explains Cearley. “We will have the walk again in the spring of 2018.”


For more information or to stay up-to-date with JLAP, visit their website: https://arjlap.org, or stop by their new Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WeHelpLawyers.




PHOTO 1:  Gail Harber receives the Justice Robert L. Brown Community Support award. Harber was first executive director, and was honored earlier this month at the JLAP Advocates Dinner. (Photos Courtesy of Sydney Rasch)


PHOTO 2:  PCBA President Lee Short and Judge Barry Sims. The money raised at the dinner ensures the organization can continue to function statewide.




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