Lawyers: Find Freedom From Anger, Anxiety, and Stress

Dr. Rebecca Nerison, a psychologist and author of the ABA Web Store bestseller “Lawyers, Anger and Anxiety: Dealing with the Stresses of the Legal Profession,” says that the accumulated pressures have damaging effects if left unchecked. In this interview, she offers some practical tips for managing stress and developing the resilience to bounce back from stressful events. Read the this article.

The Addicted Lawyer: Science is Deadly

Attorney Brian Cuban writes: “July 2005. A dark room. Table, desk, chairs. I’m with a staff psychiatrist of the Green Oaks Psychiatric Facility in Dallas, Texas. My brothers, Mark and Jeff, are sitting at the table across from me. I have a vague recollection of my younger brother rousing me from my bed. My .45 automatic lying on my nightstand.” Read the rest of the Blog.

The Struggle: When Your BigLaw Firm Forces You Out Because of Your Depression and Alcoholism

A lawyer writes about her experiences as a law clerk and lawyer at a BigLaw firm: “In law school, my anxiety level slowly ramped up after my first year.  I was at a second-tier law school, and I knew grades were absolutely critical.  I thought everything would get better when I landed a BigLaw gig. The BigLaw firm, though, was a haven of high-functioning (and not so high-functioning) alcoholics.” Read the rest of the Blog.

Four Things Resilient Lawyers Do Differently

From the website Law Practice Today: “Resilience has a strong protective function. You need resilience to effectively tackle everyday hassles like managing your workload, dealing with opposing counsel, or working through a challenging situation with your significant other. You also need resilience to bounce back and grow from the big stuff like losing a big client, a death in the family, or divorce. Lawyers who develop resilience skills gain many benefits.” Find out 4 things you can do to build resilience. Read the Blog

5 Stress Management Tips for Solo Lawyers: A Proactive Diagnosis

Lawyer Sam Gaylord blogs, “You might have already come to experience the considerable amount of stress associated with being solo, but if you are still transitioning, please don’t make the mistake of underestimating what is involved in running your own business. It’s not the same as being an employee or associate, and the more realistic you are about the demands that will be placed on you, the better you will be able to deal with feelings of overwhelm.” Read the Blog

The Struggle: Law Students Suffer From High Rates of Depression and Binge Drinking

The Above the Law website reports: “Once law students graduate, these problems do not improve, but seem to only get worse. According to a study conducted by the American Bar Association and the Hazelden Betty Ford Clinic found, one in three lawyers say they have a drinking problem, and 28 percent of them suffer from depression. Among those who reported problem drinking, 27 percent say their problems started in law school. Read the News

Out of the Darkness: Overcoming Depression Among Lawyers

The ABA’s GPSOLO magazine reports, “Lawyers seem to have a particular reluctance to seek help for depression and mental health issues because they are concerned about appearing weak or negatively affecting their reputation. Lawyers we may be, but we are human, after all. In 2004 a study was completed at Cottonwood de Tucson, a behavioral health treatment center in Arizona, where lawyers recovering from mental illness were interviewed. These individuals indicated that one main obstacle preventing them from accessing care was that they believed they could handle it on their own. Additionally, these lawyers were afraid that seeking help would negatively impact their reputation.” Read the News

Happy: An App That Replenishes Your Most Important Resources

On January 27, 2010, I became an uncle.

The day was surreal — not for me, but for my brother, who welcomed his first child into the world at 2:34 p.m.

Immediately after the baby was delivered she began experiencing respiratory distress, and at 2:35 p.m. the doctors and nurses whisked the newborn to the hospital’s neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU).  At 2:37 p.m. — while standing in the NICU praying that his baby would hang on — the new father received a call on his cell phone from opposing counsel in a case halfway across the country, where a two-week trial was scheduled to begin in ten days.

This wasn’t just any old case — a seven-year old child with profound disabilities had been raped on a special needs school bus by a twenty-year old serial predator assigned to ride the same bus.  The point of the trial was to determine what steps (if any) the school district was required to take to ensure that something like this wouldn’t happen again.

From 2:38 to 3:00, my brother negotiated a settlement in the NICU.  To hear him tell it:

“With one hand, I was pressing the phone so hard to my ear that it left an indentation for a week.  With my other hand, I was cupping the receiver as tightly as I physically could, so that the lawyer I was speaking with couldn’t hear the instructions the physicians were shouting to the attending nurses.  If he had caught wind of the fact that I was standing in the NICU with my new baby, I would have lost any leverage to settle the case, and we almost certainly would have gone to trial.  Thankfully, by the way, my wife has no memory of any of this.”

By 3:15 p.m., my niece began to breathe normally.  Seven days later, my brother and his counterpart signed a settlement agreement that, among many other things, required the school district to place paid adult bus monitors on all special needs school buses.


I had not yet gone to law school when all this happened, and I recall being extraordinarily impressed with my brother.  But now, I realize that almost every lawyer has at least one story like this.  The simple fact is that lawyers experience tremendous stress from their vocation. Indeed, the practice of law is riddled with psychological land mines — tight deadlines, job insecurity, career dissatisfaction, pressure to achieve status (e.g, make partner), becoming emotionally invested in cases that may end unsuccessfully, feeling real fear of being chewed out for or embarrassed by a small error — to name just a few.

We experience such severe stress, and have such little discretionary time to address it, that it almost feels natural to reach for expedient but unhealthy solutions to life’s miseries (alcohol, prescription and non-prescription drugs, overly intensive exercise) that mask our problems instead of addressing them.

A group of Princeton graduates is building a valuable tool — called Happy — to help people like lawyers cope with stress and burnout in a healthier way that enables greater personal fulfillment and peace of mind.  Their big idea is that a short conversation with a compassionate listener can quickly restore perspective and significantly boost a person’s happiness and health.  Happy will soon be an on-demand app that connects callers to everyday people — lawyers, baristas, musicians, teachers, nurses, retirees, etc. — who have proven themselves to be exceptionally empathetic and highly effective. Happy is developing a community of these ‘happiness givers’ who are eager to hear your story, and help you in unexpected ways to find and experience the real happiness that is well within your grasp.

For now you can arrange a free conversation at one of the following links:

By Jeremy Fischbach, Esq., B.A. Psychology, Princeton; J.D., NYU

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