Latin for "note well." Each month N.B. features ethics, professionalism and board developments.

November, 2021

Board Member Spotlight: Laura B. Hennen, LADB Lawyer Member

Laura B. Hennen (left) and her late father Dennis Hennen (right)
Laura Hennen (left) and Laura's father, the late Dennis W. Hennen, (right) accepting a certificate for his service as an LADB Board member in 2009.

Service to the profession and the community is a Hennen family tradition. This year marks the sixth year of service to the LADB by Laura Hennen. Laura follows in the footsteps of her father, the late Dennis Hennen, in being not only a member of the Board, but also the Chair of its Adjudicative Committee. Laura's interest in volunteering with the Board began when she was a young attorney and observed her father's volunteer work with the disciplinary system.

As a personal injury attorney, Laura brings to the Board her knowledge and perspective and offers particular insight into disciplinary matters centered around attorney-client relationships and trust accounting inquiries. Her work experience helps her to differentiate between minor and egregious misconduct committed by attorneys in personal injury cases. She finds it important for the disciplinary system to protect vulnerable clients who often are harmed by an attorney's actions.

When asked what she has learned from her experiences as a Board member, Laura notes that "the most important thing that you can do as a respondent is answer ODC's questions and participate in the process." She is frequently surprised by the number of attorneys who do not engage in the process, leading to discipline they perhaps would not have otherwise faced.

In her professional and civic endeavors, Laura shows a deep commitment to several organizations. Similar to her father, she has been active in the Louisiana Association for Justice and the American Association of Justice, where she serves on each organization's Board of Governors. She also serves on the Compliance Committee and the Diversity and Inclusion Committee for the American Association of Justice. Further, Laura works closely with the executive director of Emerge Louisiana to help elect more Democratic women into public office.

Reflecting on the legal profession, Laura comments that as attorneys, "most of us are just trying to do our best." Her faith in attorneys, their commitment to helping others, and the legal system remains strong.

Laura Hennen is a solo practitioner in Monroe, Louisiana. She received a B.A. in Religion from Baylor University in 2005 and a J.D. and Civil Law Certificate from Tulane University Law School in 2008. In her spare time, she enjoys being with her family, playing board games, and reading. She also enjoys working her way through escape rooms, completing almost 50 escape rooms to date.

October, 2021

Charles H. Williamson, Jr.: LADB Public Member

Charles H. Williamson, Jr.

"I do believe in the mission at LADB and find the work very noble."

Charles H. "Chuck" Williamson, Jr. currently serves as a public member of the LADB, with his second three-year term ending in December 2021. Chuck's extensive business and volunteer experience provides an excellent background for his participation as a public member. Chuck is a healthcare administrator at his family's practice, The Williamson Eye Center, in Baton Rouge. He is also an active member in the American Society of Ophthalmic Administrators. As an entrepreneur, he has found success in startups in the optical, insurance and IT fields.

Chuck's commitment to volunteerism is readily apparent from a review of the civic organizations in which he, his family and Williamson Eye Center participate. He is heavily involved with volunteer activities at Catholic High School in Baton Rouge, his alma mater. He and his wife, Meeta, are also active participants in the Baton Rouge Holi Festival, an ancient Indian Festival held each Spring. Chuck and Meeta also look forward to volunteering with the East Baton Rouge Council on Aging in the near future. Chuck and Williamson Eye Center are supporters of local organizations and agencies such as Behind the Lines, an organization which supports first responders, the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office, Police Department VIP and, as a provider participant, local school vision screening.

In reflecting over his past terms as a Board member, Chuck notes that volunteering as a Board member was important to him because it was a way to give back and provide a level of service to his community and the State. Prior to his involvement with the Board, Chuck believed that violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct by lawyers would generally result in nothing more than warnings. He now realizes that disciplinary sanctions for misconduct are by no means trivial. Recognizing that legal careers can be substantially affected by disciplinary proceedings, he carefully considers each case from his perspective as a public member.

Through his experiences as a Board member, Chuck has gained great respect for the legal profession and the lengths to which lawyers go to maintain the integrity of their profession. He has observed how the lawyer members of the Board strive to reach the correct decisions in each case and consider the long-term effect their recommendations have on the profession. He finds "the effort to find the right decision and group consensus" among to the Board members to be a valiant effort. In conclusion, he remarks that "I do believe in the mission at LADB and find the work very noble."

Chuck Williamson grew up primarily in the Baton Rouge area. He attended Campbell University where he played NCAA Division 1 college soccer and later graduated from LSU with a B.S. in International Trade and Finance, with a minor in Economics. He then attended graduate school at University of Houston where he finished a dual degree program in Healthcare and Business Administration and received his MBA/MHA. In their free time, Chuck, Meeta, and their three children, Charlie, Ethan and Alayna, enjoy traveling, cooking, attending the children's sporting events, and slowing life down as much as possible.

Wellness: A Practical Perspective
Jennifer Martinez

Wellness. What is it? How do you get it? How do you keep it? Is wellness the same as happy and balanced or is it simply not having ailments? Does wellness come from happiness and balance? Those are some of the questions that I asked myself when I was approached about this article. My first thought about wellness was that the wellness hype is everywhere. Be mindful! Meditate! Unblock your chakras! Find a work/life balance! Employers institute "wellness" programs for employees. Prospective employees inquire as to how employers will provide them a work/life balance. It has almost become taboo to work long hours. But what if work is something that you enjoy? Is that contrary to wellness? I do not think so.

At first, I scoffed at the phrase "work/life balance" because I thought it was for wimps. I thought it was a way to weasel out of working hard and that having a work/life balance required certain parameters for work and wellness because the two did not go together. After years of that internal battle, I finally realized that I was wrong. I realized that balance does not require rules or time constraints because such things are actually contrary to the ebb and flow of what it means to be balanced and to be well. Balance comes from choices that bring happiness. Happiness brings about wellness.

I cannot count the number of times that I have been told that I work too much. I, however, strongly disagree. I generally work as much and as often as I want to work, which, in all honesty, is quite a bit. But I love it. I love the challenge. I love collaborating with colleagues. And I love getting good results for clients. I am proud of who I am professionally and of my contributions to my profession. For me, work is invigorating. Still, there are also many times that I enjoy socializing, sitting around doing absolutely nothing, reading, watching movies, drinking a glass (or so) of good wine, and sharing good meals with friends and family. But sometimes it is not so easy to flip the switch. Sometimes we have to get creative. You are definitely a better judge of what you need to find balance and wellness in your life, but I would like to offer a couple of tips that I have learned over the years.

If you are feeling overwhelmed with work, which is often a daily experience in the practice of law, make a task list. A very wise attorney, friend, and mentor taught me to take a moment in the morning to write down the five most important tasks for your day. Yes, only five because a list of five looks far less daunting than a list of ten. Five is also practical considering the high probability that ten more tasks with priority will appear during the workday. As you finish each task, scratch it out and move on to the next one. Do not add other tasks until you finish those five. Sometimes the simple act of scratching out those tasks one by one and finally completing that list brings about the greatest sense of accomplishment. Sometimes the small wins matter the most.

Do not forget to breathe. When the going gets rough, take a step back and breathe deep. Long breath in and a long breath out. Repeat. Did you know that it is physically impossible to have a stress response and breathe deep at the same time? You would be surprised what a few deep breaths can do. Try it. It is worth a shot!

I am also a firm believer in "taking off well." I do not like to use precious time off when I am not feeling well or because something comes up that requires my attention. I have committed myself to "making up time" on a weekend or by working extra hours during the week if necessary because I want to spend my time off on my own agenda. Sometimes those days are filled with activities and sometimes they are "mental health" days spent watching movies by myself. Anything goes on your day off. Take those days because they are invaluable.

Someone recently posted on social media: "We all need to chill. I won't go first but it's something I've noticed." I have no idea why that person wrote the post, but I felt it in my own context of work. I might not always be the first to chill, but I do when I am ready and if I need to. Enjoy your work and be proud of it. Work hard but be willing to take care of yourself. Enjoy your life and be thankful for it. We all have a lot to face these days with Covid, stress, and hurricanes, so be well and stay safe.

Jennifer Martinez

Jennifer Martinez is an attorney at Pipes Miles Beckman in New Orleans. Since entering private practice, she has represented insurers, private companies and individuals in many different areas of law including construction, contract, bad faith, fraud, labor and employment, premises liability, and unfair trade practice disputes. She has also served as a hearing committee member for the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board. Jennifer is a graduate of Loyola University New Orleans College of Law and the University of New Orleans.

May, 2021

Linda G. Bizzarro: 2021 Chair of the Disciplinary Board

Linda Bizzarro
"Despite the proliferation of digital technology, one indispensable aspect of the practice of law which cannot be replaced by technology is human interaction with an attorney."

Following her graduation from New York University, Linda Bizzarro came to New Orleans in 1976 to attend Loyola University College of Law. The ethical practice of law was important to Linda from the outset of her legal career. After spending a year in Loyola's law clinic assisting with criminal defense matters, she developed an interest in the essential role that ethical prosecutors provide in helping to achieve justice. As a result, Linda began a thirty-year career as a prosecutor in the state and federal courts following her graduation from law school. She served as an Assistant District Attorney in the Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office, an Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of Louisiana, and a federal prosecutor in the Counter Terrorism Section of the United States Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.

Following Hurricane Katrina, Linda retired from the federal government and returned to the Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office to work on a case recovery team that culled damaged evidence, coordinated case materials damaged by Katrina's floodwaters, and located prisoners dispersed during the storm. As her interest in legal ethics continued, in 2010 she volunteered with the Disciplinary Board as a hearing committee member and later became a chair of a hearing committee. In 2015, she was appointed to the Disciplinary Board by the Louisiana Supreme Court and is now in her second term as a Board member. She currently serves as the 2021 Chair of the Board.

Upon reflection of her work with the Board, Linda notes that the disciplinary system not only protects the public, but also plays a pivotal role in maintaining the dignity and honor of the legal profession. She has observed that many disciplinary issues stem from lawyers' lack of communication with clients, other lawyers, and the courts. She believes that despite the proliferation of digital technology, one indispensable aspect of the practice of law which cannot be replaced by technology is human interaction with an attorney. Human interaction is necessary for building strong professional relationships between the attorney and his or her clients and colleagues.

Upon reflection of her work with the Board, Linda notes that the disciplinary system not only protects the public, but also plays a pivotal role in maintaining the dignity and honor of the legal profession. She has observed that many disciplinary issues stem from lawyers' lack of communication with clients, other lawyers, and the courts. She believes that despite the proliferation of digital technology, one indispensable aspect of the practice of law which cannot be replaced by technology is human interaction with an attorney. Human interaction is necessary for building strong professional relationships between the attorney and his or her clients and colleagues.

April, 2021

Hearing Committee Spotlight: Paul J. Tellarico

Paul Tellarico

Fairness was Paul Tellarico's motivation to volunteer as a hearing committee member. "I volunteered to participate in the disciplinary process to help my fellow bar members who may be facing unwarranted complaints, and to help the Bar and the public when presented with actual breaches of the Rules of Professional Conduct." Hearing committee members participate in both of these functions: adjudicating allegations of attorney misconduct and reviewing complaints that have been dismissed by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel ("ODC").

Through his years of service as a committee member, Paul observed that only "true violations" of the Rules of Professional Conduct are pursued by ODC. "Many Lawyers are leery of the [Disciplinary Board], thinking that they are 'out to get you' for any minor deviation from how they think lawyers should act. After becoming a committee member, I was surprised to find that the opposite is true. So many unwarranted claims are filed by disgruntled clients, which the [ODC] properly dismisses following an investigation."

Paul graduated from LSU, where he was a member of the gymnastics team, and graduated from LSU Law School. He has practiced law in Alexandria since 1989, both as a member of a firm and as a solo practitioner.

In addition to serving as a hearing committee member from 2015 to 2020, Paul has been involved with several other organizations, including the Alexandria Bar Association, Fit Families for CENLA, Rapides Parish Civil Service Board, and the American Inns of Court.

Hearing Committee Spotlight: Zebulon M. Winstead

Zebulon M. Winstead

After having served six years as a hearing committee member, Zeb confidently states "for the most part members of our profession are doing their best to help their clients." He has also observed that many of the attorneys who violate the Rules of Professional Conduct have suffered from substance abuse. "Just as the rest of our society, the profession is riddled with the problem and is deeply affected by the issue."

Volunteering for the Disciplinary Board was important to Zeb because the system of self-governance allows the regulatory scheme to focus on and respond to the specific issues associated with the practice of law. In addition to volunteering as a committee member from 2015-2020, Zeb is heavily involved in other volunteer work with several organizations, including the Board of Trustees of the Alexandria Museum of Art, the Central Louisiana Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the Louisiana Bar Foundation Board of Directors.

Zeb practices law in Alexandria with Crowell & Owens, LLC. He is also executive Vice Chair of the Central Louisiana Community Foundation and is an Adjunct Faculty member at Louisiana State University at Alexandria. Zeb graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1999 and Tulane University School of Law in 2002.

February, 2021

Ethical Lawyer Learning Initiative

ELLI: Path to Wellness

Mental health expert, Ms. Leah Rosa, MAC, NCC, LPC, sat down recently and wrote down some thoughts and suggestions for simple strategies to help lawyers during these challenging times.

Today is Mardi Gras, but like many things it looks very different in 2021. The experience of having to adjust, and readjust and readjust again to the changing world can leave people exhausted. Mental health professionals are seeing a huge uptick in people reaching out for help, many who have never been in or considered therapy before. There are a lot of people trying to manage mental health challenges on their own and are looking for a few pointers. Making changes that lead to a healthier life or more positive mindset is doable, even with our current challenges.

There is a distinct trend with "working from home" that indicates that workers feel that they should be more relaxed - with no commute and flexible hours – and that it should feel better. But this isn't what's happening. Many are reporting that they are working more hours than before because there is no demarcation line between home and work. In addition to working from home, most people are also taking care of children or other loved ones, facing health challenges, or having financial strain like never before. So, if working from home doesn't feel like a panacea, that's because it isn't.

The first question people usually ask is "How do I know I need to make changes?" This always goes back to investigating what's happening in your life. How are you functioning? Are you under or over functioning? Under functioning can sometimes look like not engaging in any activities outside of ones you feel required to do, and can trend toward depression. Lack of engagement, having few feelings or feeling hopeless are all red flags that under functioning has led to something more serious, especially if it lasts more than two weeks. But over functioning can be as detrimental as under functioning. There is only so long, physically and mentally, that people can live in high gear. The human nervous system just isn't built to do that. It is built for us to adapt to perform in high stress, and then reset in non-stressful circumstances so we can regain equilibrium. If you find you are in either one of these states the majority of the time, its time to make some changes.

Here is one of the easiest and best things you can do for your mental health. Get real honest real fast about what's actually happening to you. Find that one person you can really talk to and admit if you are struggling. One of the best prescriptions people could get would be to take a long walk with your best friend and talk about your problems. Why or how can something so simple make such a big difference? Connection and physical exercise allow for a powerful dump of neurochemicals that boost your mood and help you manage stress. This is simple yet powerful. Just do it!

Another powerful tool is to check in with yourself every day. You may ask yourself how you feel socially, emotionally, physically, spiritually? You may be surprised at how often we forget to look at ourselves as a whole. Take just a minute to do this, and if you find you don't feel well in one area, commit to doing something to improve it that very day. One action step can move you forward.

If you find you're in a position where you feel overwhelmed or need help, do not hesitate to reach out to a professional. This is not the time to let pride get in the way of getting help. It's time to reframe reaching out for mental health help as brave, because it simply is. Reaching out for help doesn't mean mental health challenges are bigger than we can handle, it means they are bigger than we can handle alone. Please know you're not alone.

Leah Rosa

Leah Rosa is a native New Orleanian with a passion for helping others. She earned a Masters of Health Science in Rehabilitation Counseling from LSU Health Science Center in 2000 and has worked in the mental health field for over 15 years. She holds certifications as a Master Addiction Counselor, is a Nationally Certified Counselor and is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the States of Louisiana and Texas.

Leah previously served as the Clinical Director of the Louisiana Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program (JLAP), where she provided clinical oversight to all JLAP programs.

She currently works in her private practice, Leah Rosa Counseling and BrainCore NOLA providing counseling, consulting and neurofeedback services. In addition, she is the Clinical Partner for Assurance Recovery Monitoring providing drug screening and post-treatment monitoring.

January, 2021

2020 LADB Snapshot

We have assembled a series of info-graphics illustrating the various activities of the LADB and the Court in 2020. You can browse this and more data yourself at the statistics page.

1 A complainant may appeal the dismissal of his/her complaint by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel. The appeal is reviewed by a Hearing Committee.

2 The Office of Disciplinary Counsel must request permission to file formal charges. In order for permission to be granted, ODC must demonstrate probable cause.

3 This includes reports in formal charge matters, reinstatement/readmission matters, revocation of conditional admission matters, disability matters, and interim suspension matters.

4 If a lawyer does not answer charges within 20 days, the factual allegations in the formal charges can become deemed admitted and proven. Louisiana Supreme Court Rule XIX, §11(E)(3).

5 Active suspension of one year or less imposed.

6 Active suspension greater than one year imposed.