A large number of law students are struggling with poor mental health and well-being.

Fifteen law schools and over 3,300 law students participated in a survey of law student well-being, the results of which were published in 2016. It found that 17% experienced some level of depression, 14 percent experienced severe anxiety, 23 percent had mild to moderate anxiety, 23 percent reported suicidal thoughts in the past year. As to alcohol use, 43 percent reported binge-drinking two or more times during that period. One-quarter fell into the category of being at risk for alcoholism for which further screening was recommended.

Forty-two percent needed help for poor mental health, but only half sought it out.

Here's a clip of Dan during a recent law school presentation:

What Can be Done?

Law students need to know not only about this study and other information tied to mental health issues in the law, but also hear from someone who has been through law school like them and is a lawyer like they will soon become. But just as importantly, they need to listen to someone who has successfully practiced law while managing his stress, anxiety, and depression. Dan Lukasik, a thirty-year veteran litigator, is a national spokesman and expert on the topic of mental health in the legal profession. He has lectured around the country on the mental health problems plaguing students, why these problems are so prevalent, and what students and law schools can do about it.

Dan’s presentation was certainly a highlight of the session. At Harvard Law School, we work to tailor our health and wellness programs so that the content is relatable to students. The fact that Mr. Lukasik is a practicing attorney who can speak personally and with authority about the unique struggles of the mental health in the legal profession was well received. The feedback was remarkable, so much so that we would like to invite Dan back. 

- Lakshmi Clark, Director of Student Affairs, Harvard Law School 

Dan not only educates but inspires law students that there is much they and law schools can do to constructively cope with these pressing issues. His presentations cover what the symptoms of these conditions, risk factors in general, risk factors for law students and lawyers in particular, some solutions, and his own compelling story of coming to terms with his diagnosis of Major Depression when he was forty years old and the managing partner of his firm.

About Dan Lukasik

Dan is the Executive Director of the original 30-minute documentary, "A Terrible Melancholy: Depression in the Legal Profession" and the creator of the website, Lawyerswithdepression.com., the first website of its kind in the United States.

His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The National Law Journal, ABA Journal, Bloomberg Law, Law360, on CNN, and several other national and international media outlets.

Here is a short list of some of the schools Dan has presented at:

  • Yale Law School
  • Harvard Law School
  • Syracuse University College of Law
  • Capital University School of Law
  • Roger Williams University School of Law
  • Syracuse University College of Law
  • Touro Law Center
  • University at Buffalo School of Law
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