Confidential Assistance for Tennessee Judges

*Article about Judge John Everett Williams, past TLAP Commission Chair*

Like all members of the legal profession, judges sometimes face problems—stress, depression, balancing work and family, alcohol or drug abuse, and compulsive behaviors.

But as a judge, the problems you face are more likely to go unnoticed and untreated because of the very nature of your role in the legal system:

  • You work in isolation, often shielding your problems.
  • Colleagues and associates may be hesitant to talk with you.
  • You may be reluctant to seek help because of fear, denial and embarrassment—even hopelessness.

Above all, you may be concerned about your problems becoming known and negatively impacting your status and reputation.

Never again will a judge have to say there was nowhere to turn for help.

Concerned About a Judicial Colleague?

TLAP helps you help them.

On the bench and in the courtroom, you are often in the best position to see problems of impairment in your colleagues.  Lawyers often are reluctant to initiate judicial interventions for fear of retaliation by the impaired judge or the alienation of other judges.

You can help others most effectively by contacting TLAP and using the support of TLAP’s Judicial Assistance Group (JAG) who understand the issues and are genuinely concerned about helping their judicial colleagues.

The assistance process is always conducted with confidentiality, respect and concern.

 Helping a colleague in need is the honorable thing to do!

Has an Impaired Lawyer Appeared Before You?

You’re in a position to help.

As a judge, you are in a unique position to recognize impairment in the lawyers who appear before you.  Sharing your concerns with other trained judges about the behavior of an attorney can help identify someone who needs help.  Most warning signs, such as changes in personality and job performance, are key indicators that something is wrong.

A perceptive, understanding, but assertive judge can cut through the denial, enabling and indifference to reach the impaired attorney as no one else can. Contact TLAP when you have a concern about an attorney.

TLAP has over three hundred trained judicial and attorney volunteers ready to offer support and guidance.  The program volunteers, combined with professional TLAP staff, will offer prompt response to the many problems legal professionals face.

 TLAP Needs Your Help

You play a critical role in TLAP services.

You can play a critical role as a trained TLAP volunteer, since you understand the day to day stressors of the job, the system, and the culture of being a judge.  While many judges have participated in our training to become judicial volunteers, TLAP needs more judges in all regions of the state.  There is no requirement that a volunteer be in recovery.  All that is required is that you care and what to help.

Helping members of the legal community as a TLAP volunteer can be meaningful and personally rewarding.  If you are interested in becoming one of our volunteers contact TLAP for more information about the next volunteer training event. 

National Helpline for Judges Helping Judges


Judges who need assistance because of alcoholism, substance abuse, addiction or mental health issues may reach other judges, who are in recovery or who have gone through treatment, by calling a helpline sponsored by the American Bar Association.

Judges who have volunteered to be a personal resource to other judges throughout the US and Canada are uniquely positioned to share their experiences, strengths and hope. Both judges in need of help and those interested in serving as a peer-to-peer volunteer should call 800-219-6474 during business hours Central time.

 All information is confidential and protected by statute.


Early Warnings of Judicial Burnout

Compassion Fatigue in Judges

Isolation in Judicial Careers

Drug Court Success- an article in the Tennessee Bar Journal