DANIEL J. McDERMOTT, ESQ.

Executive Director

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Dan was appointed Executive Director by the Florida Lawyers Assistance, Inc Board of Directors, effective June 15, 2020.

 

A native of Dubuque, Iowa, Dan graduated from Yale University in 1976 and The University of Iowa College of Law in 1979. Following a two-year clerkship with the Chief Judge of the US District Court for the Northern District of Iowa, Dan practiced law in Cedar Rapids, Iowa for 5 years before moving to Washington, DC. There Dan began what is now a more than three decades-long stint as a lawyer in recovery. In Washington, he engaged in a government relations career where he headed up the US Government Relations departments of a number of companies in the financial services and technology sectors before moving full-time to South Florida in 2017.

 

Beyond his professional pursuits Dan enjoys music, both listening and

performing, and plays drums and sings in rock ‘n’ roll bands. Dan also enjoys books and movies, and has been involved in two film projects. Dan and his wife have three adult children, all of whom live in the New York City area.

 

At FLA, Dan is responsible for overseeing its day-to-day operations. At the foundation of his work is assuring that members of Florida’s legal community with whom we work receive compassionate interaction and appropriate counseling.

SCOTT M. WEINSTEIN, Ph. D.

Clinical Director

Dr. Scott Weinstein has been the Clinical Director of FLA since 2004.  He brings over twenty years of experience to FLA. Dr. Weinstein received his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Miami, a M.S. in Counseling Psychology from North Texas State University and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Florida.

 

Dr. Weinstein provides psychological oversight, state-wide mental health coordination, and clinical services to FLA clients. He has a strong background in clinical psychology and addiction treatment. He has made several presentations and written articles about the psychological challenges facing the legal profession. 

 

Dr. Weinstein was appointed to The Florida Bar task force on mental health, supporting its efforts to increase awareness of wellness and 

psychological hygiene for lawyers. He is a member of the Communications Committee of the national Commission on Lawyers Assistance Program’s (CoLap) Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being.  The Task Force’s Communication Committee is charged with developing and implementing a national media campaign to reduce stigma, developing and implementing a strategy to reach the younger generation of lawyers, addressing inclusion, diversity, and its implicit bias, and developing recommendations for model rules on lawyer well-being.  

 

Dr. Weinstein enjoys plant-based cooking and spending time with his family, and if the Doc is around you can bet his beloved dog Maia is somewhere close by. 

JOHN LESKO, JD, CAP
Outreach Coordinator

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John Lesko, FLA Outreach Representative, is a former practicing attorney and a clinician credentialed as an addiction specialist.

 
John has worked with impaired attorneys since 2008, serving as both a clinician providing treatment, and an advocate representing impaired lawyers’ interests to their licensing agencies, disciplinary counsel, and employers.  Ultimately, John has helped scores of grateful professionals, in Florida and nationally, to achieve personal recovery and re-establish successful careers. 


A graduate of the University of Cincinnati College of Law (1994), John practiced litigation in the areas of workers’ compensation, personal injury, 

and Social Security law.  John earned his undergraduate degree at UCLA (1989), and was born and raised in Cleveland, OH.

 

Outline of Presentation

Presenter:  John Lesko, JD, CAP

Title:  How FLA Helps Restore Struggling Lawyers

Time/Credits:  50 minutes/ 1.0 Credits

 

Content of Presentation:

Presenter will educate attendees regarding the medical reasons and processes by which monitoring – which includes random toxicology testing, accountability ‘check-ins,’ engagement in both group and individualized therapy, and continued abstinence from mind-altering substances – leads to development of new brain pathways that support modulated behavior that aligns with the subject’s behavioral and recovery goals.

 

Evidence, including real time brain scan imagery (as shown via PET scans) demonstrates the changes in the subject’s brain – which changes include structural, chemical, and pathway alterations – thereby confirming what addiction and mental health experts had hypothesized since the mid-20th century; that behavior, either negative or positive, can be ‘controlled’ by brain circuitry that bypasses the ‘thinking’ or frontal lobe of the brain.

DAWN WITHROW
Finance & Testing Manager

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Dawn has been a member of the FLA family for nearly 15 years.  Her FLA role is nicknamed “Drugs and Money” since she is the contact for all drug testing and billing issues.

 

An educator in Massachusetts and then Montreal for 30 years, Dawn feels happiest in a job of service, making FLA a great fit. 

Born in Sudbury Mass., Bachelors of Education at Wheelock College in Boston and a citizen of both the US and Canada, Dawn finds joy in spending quality time with her children and grandchildren as well as keeping healthy as an avid cyclist, gardener and kayaker. 

Dawn is just a phone call away, always ready to help and happy to chat with clients.

LAUREN MORRIS, LMHC
Case Manager

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Lauren Morris, case manager and monitor, has worked in the arenas of mental health and substance use since 1990, and thus brings a depth of professional experience that greatly benefits all FLA participants.

 
Indeed, Ms. Morris was well-prepared for her current role, since prior to joining the FLA team in 2020, Lauren spent 20 years consulting with FLA as a participants’ monitor and group facilitator.  In addition to her extensive experience helping lawyers overcome difficulties and achieve recovery, Lauren has worked with the Intervention Project for Nurses, South Miami Hospital and Fellowship House, and has even assisted early release inmates with societal re-entry and successful transition to living independently.

Finally, Lauren M’s bio would not be complete without noting that she is a grateful member of AA enjoying a period of recovery that is now counted in decades.


Leisure time includes family, friends, pets and wildlife, travel and photography.
Lauren can be reached by email at Lauren@fla-lap.org

MICHAEL F. NIAS, JD, LCSW
Presenter: Lawyers' Mental Health and Substance Use Concerns: A "Chicken vs. Egg" Analysis - Time/Credits: 50 mins/1.0 Credits
 

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Content of Presentation
Presenter will examine mental health and substance use issues among lawyers, with a ‘chicken or the egg’ analysis; as well as clear guidance that, regardless of etiology, effective treatment is available and far more efficient when exposure thereto is ‘early.’

 
The intent of this training is to look at the connection between the legal field and it connect to various mental health diagnoses. We will begin the training by looking at the connection between people who attend law school or weather

the action of studying in law school leads to a mental health diagnosis. This chicken or egg analysis should help determine whether those coming to law school already have mental health issues or whether after the stress of three years of study in law school and/or working in the legal field makes a person more susceptible to substance abuse/mental health issues. Do we need to initiate coping skills to students in law school or after they have started in the legal profession ?  

 

Biography of Michael F. Nias

Michael Nias, LCSW, JD, is a trained lawyer, a licensed social worker with experience treating clients with a wide range of disorders, and a skilled clinical lead and educational speaker.  Michael attended the Cornell School of Human Ecology, where he studied consumer economics and public policy. After some years of practical, professional experience, he attended the Benjamin N. Cardozo school of Law, focusing in sports and entertainment law.  With his legal education, Michael represented professional athletes, and it was during this period that embarked on his own personal journey in sobriety, which now approaches 30 years. Michael eventually stopped working with professional athletes to become the academic advisor for athletes at Providence College in Rhode Island. Ultimately, Michael again returned to graduate school, this time at the Smith College School of Social Work, where he prepared to become a clinical social worker and a psychotherapist. 

Michael completed clinical training at the George Washington University Department of Psychiatry and the Mount Vernon Community Mental Health Center.  Finding his greatest interest in substance use and associated mental health disorders, Michael returned to social service. Michael had a number of mental health and quasi-legal occupations for the federal and local government including working for the District of Columbia Superior Court, the US Customs Service, Court Services and Offenders and Supervision Agency as well as Child and Family Services Agency. He also worked in community mental health as the executive director of Hillcrest Children’s Center and the world-renowned Shepard Pratt psychiatric hospital.  In 2011, Michael accepted a faculty position in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Florida College of Medicine, where he also served as director of clinical operations at the Florida Recovery Center and, with co-author Scott Teitelbaum, MD, wrote a book titled “Weed: the Parents Guide to Marijuana.”   Michael holds clinical licensure in Florida, Maryland and the District Of Columbia, and is currently in private practice in DC.

 


 

PATTY MOHLER, MS, LMHC
Presenter

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Title:  An Invitation to Change: Maintain Your Purpose and Lead From a New Direction

Time/Credit:  50 minutes/ 1 CLE Credit

Content of Discussion:

Ms. Mohler will explore lawyers’ characterological and personality traits, along with their innate and developed skills and motivational tendencies, and illustrate ways attorneys can readily tap into their gifts and abilities in order to thrive during times of change and difficulty. 

Discussion will address lawyers’ expectations and readiness, breaking through and into action, leaning into one’s abilities, maximizing the impact of effort with

powerful communication, and defining success against problems of perfectionism.

Patty Mohler, MS, LMHC, is a #1 best-selling author, a highly renowned Keynote Speaker, TEDx Speaker, Behavioral Transformation Consultant, Communications Accelerator, and a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. Owner and Founder of Patty Mohler Counseling and Renew and Restore, Patty is a specialist in cultivating effective communication to build long-­lasting, deep, and meaningful (personal and professional) relationships.

Regardless of backgrounds and experiences, Patty believes we are all equipped and capable of coping with life challenges and defining our happiness. This belief, along with a strong and dedicated passion for what she does, helps individuals design and create the life they are meant to live. She captivates her audience with positive energy, humor, and a holistic approach to wellness of mind, body, and spirit.

Prior to speaking and counseling, she enjoyed a 20-year career in health, fitness, nutrition, and business. Patty's clients have experienced substantial results while learning to take charge of their lives. A graduate from the University of North Florida (CACREP accredited), Patty earned a Master in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She is the past President of Chi Sigma Iota (CSI) and was selected to the Mayor's Victims Assistance Advocacy Counsel (VAAC).

Patty can be reached:     

Pattymohlercounseling.com

Renewrestoreretreat.com

patty@pattymohlercounseling.com

JENNIFER ANGIER, MS
Presenter/VP of Addiction Services, Meadows Behavioral Healthcare

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A veteran in the behavioral healthcare field, Jennifer Angier has more than three decades of clinical and operations experience. She is currently the Vice President of Addiction Services for Meadows Behavioral Healthcare, which includes heading up Meadows Case Management, a program she’s personally passionate about. 


Among other leadership roles, Jennifer has served in the role of Group CEO for Talbott Recovery Campus and CEO for Black Bear Lodge, both in Georgia. A nationally recognized expert on addiction treatment techniques, she regularly speaks at national conferences to paraprofessionals groups, and in employee assistance programs, healthcare, and collegiate programs. Angier earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Georgia State University, graduating Summa Cum Laude, as well as earning a master’s in organizational leadership from 
Mercer University, graduating with highest honors.

Abstract
The Movement of Grace

Participants in this workshop will be challenged to recognize the intimate qualities of the absence, the emergence and the living experience of grace in professional patients struggling with the disease of addiction. Often, these patients have experienced a broad range of difficulties in their efforts to treat their disease, even as they have reconciled to the idea of choice and have a desire to build a sustained recovery.

Innovative approaches and a variety of patient interventions will be shared in an interactive, experiential setting that will help participants identify the spirituality behind a collaborative therapeutic exchange.
Through the use of movie clips, literature and music, this interactive dialogue will enable clinician’s, directors and volunteers to expand the realm of traditional therapeutic skills in the treatment of the dual addicted patient.

As a result of this presentation, participants will come to view and utilize therapeutic interventions as not merely a sterile interaction to elicit change, but as an emotional and spiritual experience that will empower the patients to dedicate their efforts to connect with their truth. This pathway leads the patients from their obstacles and struggles to solutions and a place of hope.

The first objective of the workshop will be to enable participants to recognize the progression of grace in an addict’s journey from active disease through recovery.

Another objective is to provide participant’s with tools they can utilize to enhance this process.

Finally, the clinician’s, LAP’s and volunteers will be reunited with their own appreciation for the spiritual journey of the ones we have the privilege to work with.

 

 

Objectives for CEU’s


1.    The first objective of the workshop will be to enable participants to recognize the progression of grace in an addict’s journey from active disease through recovery. Participants will be challenged to expand their understanding of how grace and truth work their way through the past, present and future of the addict.

2.    Another objective is to provide clinician’s, directors and volunteers with tools they can utilize to enhance this process. Although we cannot predict the outcomes of life unfolding for the addict, participants will learn techniques to unlock their own ideas to help patients remain on the path of recovery. 

3.    Finally, clinician’s, directors and volunteers will be reunited with their own appreciation for the spiritual journey of the ones we have the privilege to work with. The mystery of participating in a personal experience with recovery is a spiritual journey that should not be missed.