Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : December 2007

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After more than a quarter-century of heading up MSBA’s Lawyer Assistance Program (LAP), Richard B. Vincent will retire on December 31, 2007.

“In 1981, the MSBA Lawyer Counseling Committee had the novel idea of hiring the country’s first bar association counselor to help those bar members who had developed problems due to substance abuse,” explains MSBA Executive Director Paul V. Carlin. “Thus arrived Richard Vincent, who for the last 26 years has served with compassion and distinction as Director of MSBA’s Lawyer Assistance Program in helping thousands of members to regain their balance with their lives.”

Vincent’s own struggles with substance abuse and subsequent sobriety helped equip him with the tools necessary for providing effective counseling.

“Richard knows firsthand what it is to lose one’s balance, and this experience has allowed him to offer direct, honest help to those he has counseled,” adds Carlin.

“They felt the majority of the problems would be substance abuse, and by golly, they were right,” notes Vincent.

By Vincent’s estimate, nearly three-quarters of the referrals LAP saw during its first two decades related to some form of substance abuse; since then, the program has broadened its scope to address the growing number of issues related to mental health, such as depression and stress. Under Vincent’s direction, LAP has expanded over the ensuing years, providing a model for similar programs across Maryland and the rest of the country. Vincent credits the joint support of Maryland’s bar and bench – from the provision of funds to office space – for the program’s ongoing success, as well as LAP’s unwavering emphasis on confidentiality.

“If you have anything to do with the legal profession, we’re available to help you with any problem you’ve got,” he says.

“Richard has an enduring goal of helping people, especially those in the throes of alcohol and drug addictions,” says Tom Bodie, who chaired the Lawyer Assistance Committee from 1981 to 2001. “He would be there for lawyers and judges anytime, day or night, in times of crisis.”

Chief among Vincent’s latest achievements, according to Bodie, is the recent creation of the Bates/Vincent Foundation, which bears his name as well as that of the late Honorable David N. Bates, who played an integral role in Vincent’s hiring.

“[The Bates/Vincent Foundation] provides financial assistance through loans to those of the legal community who find themselves unable to pay for the medical care necessary for their recovery and rehabilitation,” explains Bodie.

“I admire him greatly,” he adds of Vincent. “He knows the secret of life – reaching out and caring for others.”

LAP will continue to grow under the direction of James P. Quinn, who joined LAP in April 2007 as Program Director. Not one to rest on his laurels, however, Vincent will retain the title of LAP “Director Emeritus”, periodically attending counseling meetings and offering the guidance afforded by his years of experience.

“I’m not going to have an unlisted phone number,” says Vincent. “What more can you do, except help your fellow man? If you can take anything with you, probably the only thing you can take is what you give away.”

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: December  2007