• Virgil Stucker

Season 3 Episode 2 of Mental Horizons Podcast: Pandemic-Adapted Legal Remedies

This is the second episode of season 3 of Mental Horizons Podcast. Virgil spoke with Lisa Cukier, Partner at Burns & Levinson in Boston. Lisa is well-known for her ability to handle the toughest of cases and is particularly skilled at handling sensitive matters where mental illness is a concern. In this episode, Virgil and Lisa discuss pandemic-adapted legal remedies to guide families to short and long-term mental health treatment solutions during the waves of the Covid-19 pandemic.


Lisa Cukier is a Partner at Burns & Levinson in Boston and also a member of the firm’s Executive Committee. Lisa splits her practice between high conflict divorces and high profile trusts and estate litigation as well as Law at the intersection of Psychiatry, and is on the show today because she is well-known for her ability to handle the toughest of cases and is particularly skilled at handling sensitive matters where mental illness is a concern.

Lisa’s practice also includes handling complex child custody, family law issues, blended family issues, adoption, and guardianship and conservatorship. She received her J.D. from Suffolk University Law School and her B.A. from Northeastern University and was a 2018 Women Worth Watching award recipient. The Women Worth Watching organization identifies, promotes and supports women in leadership and Lisa was nominated by her peers as an executive who embodies exceptional purpose and drive and represents diversity within her sphere of influence. Before going to law school and becoming an attorney, Lisa worked as a social worker.

The Continuum of Mental Health Care and the concept of Hope for Mental Health Recovery have been threatened by the waves and disruptions caused by the pandemic.

In this episode, Virgil and Lisa, as an expert mental health attorney, examine and explore three significant shifts

1) Estate Planning Urgency: Over 8.4 million U.S. families (and growing) are caring long-term for a family member with mental illness whose average age is 45. Their parents are over 65 and worried even more about their vulnerability. The pandemic is causing increased anxiety in these families who wonder what will happen to their family member in the future. 2) New Problems Accessing Acute and Residential Inpatient Care: The supply of psychiatric inpatient beds is decreasing as mental health distress and crises are increasing. While some of the residential care options may be some of the safest places to be, gaining admission is more difficult because of COVID-19 screening protocols.


3) New positive shift: Easier Access to Virtual Therapeutic and Treatment Services, as well as to Legal Support: While residential mental health treatment services appear to be providing safe and effective havens, accessing their services has slowed down. On the other hand outpatient providers have remained steady and even increased services due to the flexibility of providing access via Internet and phone connections.


Virgil and Lisa delve into the above "shifts" and also focus on the topic of “strategic interventions guided with a multidisciplinary clinical-social-legal approach by a team of professionals can provide improved outcomes.” Families are encouraged to create an enhanced sense of teamwork, accountability and structure during these unprecedented times when often clinicians and coaches are virtual.

The past few episodes of Mental Health Horizons have focused on the Covid-19 pandemic and how it effects families navigating mental health resources. We know that we as a nation and as a world are facing many new uncertainties and challenges. Professionals like Lisa Cukier are helping families navigate these uncharted waters. Her expertise and unwavering commitment to families gives all of us hope.

Listeners and readers who may have questions for Lisa can reach her at: 617-966-9582 (cell) or lcukier@burnslev.com

We thank Lisa for being with us on our podcast and also my daughter Stephanie McMahon, the creator of Mental Horizons.


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Disclaimer: As therapeutic consultants, we advise, advocate, recommend, facilitate and empower, but we do not treat mental illness or addiction. We are not licensed mental health professionals, but will often refer you to professionals and programs for treatment. (Note: We have no financial relationship with any of these professionals or programs.)  Any consultation we give is for educational, informational and motivational purposes only and is not meant to replace professional psychiatric, psychological, programmatic, legal or financial advice you may need for yourself or your family member. 

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