October 22, 2018
Contact: Lowell Brown
Communications Division Director, State Bar of Texas
(800) 204-2222, ext. 1713, or (512) 427-1713

Bree Buchanan retiring; new director named for Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program

AUSTIN—Bree Buchanan, a national leader in the movement to address substance abuse and mental health issues in the legal profession, is retiring October 31 as director of the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program (TLAP) of the State Bar of Texas. Staff attorney Chris Ritter will succeed her as director of the program.

Buchanan will continue as chair of the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP) and as co-chair of the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being.

“It’s been such an honor and a highlight of my career to serve the members of our profession, both those who are courageously seeking help for themselves and those who are compassionately seeking help for others,” Buchanan said.

Ritter said he is excited to take on the role of director. Before joining the TLAP staff in 2014, he was an assistant district attorney as well as a partner in two prominent civil litigation law firms.

“TLAP means the world to me,” Ritter said. “You can’t find a more important cause for the legal world, and it is a personal passion of mine as an attorney in recovery. I am very grateful to have this opportunity.”

Created in 1984, TLAP provides confidential help to Texas lawyers, judges, and law students experiencing mental health or substance abuse disorders. Buchanan, a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law, joined the TLAP staff in 2010 after practicing law in the public and private sectors with a focus on representing victims of family violence. She was promoted to TLAP director in 2013.

In November 2016, Buchanan was named co-chair of the national Task Force on Lawyer Wellness, which was created to address the findings of a landmark study by the ABA and Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation that found elevated rates of substance abuse and mental health issues among attorneys. Buchanan co-authored the task force’s 2017 report that included a series of recommendations for improving lawyer well-being. At least 14 states, including Texas, have created committees or working groups to study the report’s recommendations.

“Bree Buchanan is a tremendous advocate for lawyer well-being, and her work will benefit our profession for many years to come,” said Trey Apffel, executive director of the State Bar of Texas. “We congratulate Bree on her retirement from TLAP, and we are fortunate to have someone as qualified and as passionate as Chris Ritter to lead the program into the future.”

Ritter graduated magna cum laude from Baylor University in 1994 with a B.A. in political science and philosophy. After law school at the University of Texas School of Law (J.D., 1998), he was a trial lawyer in West Texas for more than 15 years until he joined the TLAP staff.

Ritter holds a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling from Lamar University (M.Ed., 2018). His peers have recognized him for his legal accomplishments, including by naming him a Texas Monthly Super Lawyers’ Rising Star three times.

In his work at TLAP and in pursuit of his master’s degree, Ritter has gained significant knowledge and experience pertaining to mental health and substance use disorders and their treatment.

Media note: High-resolution photos of Bree Buchanan and Chris Ritter are available upon request.

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