Legal Recruiter, Harrison Barnes writes: “After a long day at the office, the other day talking to attorneys about their jobs who did not seem the least bit excited about practicing law, I had a refreshing phone call with a woman practicing law overseas. The woman is an American but has never practiced with a US law firm. During our conversation, she seemed quite simply to be the happiest attorney I had ever spoken with. “The weather is so nice here today!” she gushed. “I cannot wait to go outside for lunch and take in some sunshine! It’s also my secretary’s anniversary here today! I ordered her flowers. She is going to be so excited!” I’ve been a legal recruiter most of my career. Did this woman know what was going on and how tough being an attorney really was? Had she discovered some unknown antidepressant that was making her immune to the horrors of practicing law?” Read the rest of the story.
Lawyer Monica Zent writes in The Huffington Post, “Associate attorneys may have the highest salaries but, in a recent survey, they were rated as having the “least happy” jobs, perhaps because of the long hours and lack of work/life balance. Greater “balance,” however, might not be the answer. According to Wharton Professor Stewart D. Friedman, ‘A commitment to better ‘work/life balance’ isn’t the solution… A more realistic and more gratifying goal is better integration between work and the rest of life…’ As boundaries between work and home continue to blur and work/life balance becomes increasingly elusive, the future lies in integrating career and life in a more seamless, less structured way”. Read the rest of her article.
From the Attorney At Work website, lawyer Ruth Carter blogs: “How do you cope with stress?” That was this month’s question from my Attorney at Work editors. At first, I laughed at the question, but the gentlest response I can give is, “Not gracefully.”I’ve been open about my issues with depression and anxiety, and these are things that impact me every day. My officemate frequently hears me making non-word noises at my computer screen like “blah aa aah,” and taking deep breaths that help quiet the constant mental chatter.” Read the rest of her blog.
I am a lawyer, like many of you.
I also struggle with depression, like too many of you as well.
A new study by the American Bar Association and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation found that twenty-eight percent of over 12,825 practicing lawyers polled reported a problem with depression. This is over three times the rate found in the general population. When put in perspective, of the 1.2 million attorneys in this country, over 336,000 reported symptoms of clinical depression.
Levels of stress, anxiety, and problem drinking were also significant, with 23%, 19%, and 20.6% experiencing symptoms of stress, anxiety, and hazardous drinking, respectively.
“This is a mainstream problem in the legal profession,” said
Attorney Gaston Kroub blogs in Above the Law: “The general consensus is that many lawyers lead stressful lives. Whether it is the pressures of handling deals, the emotional toll of counseling broken families in a matrimonial dispute, or the general demands of life as a litigator, stress is an ever-present condiment on the sandwich meat that is a lawyer’s life. At the same time, lawyers are generally considered to have plenty of experience managing stress, due to their having survived law school, the bar exam, and even today’s broken job market for recent graduates.” Read the rest of his blog.
Western cognitive psychologist John Paul Minda is collaborating with San Francisco-based lawyer and author Jenna Cho on a project designed to investigate the relationship between mindfulness training and the well-being of attorneys. “We’re hoping to uncover whether or not there are specific things in relation to lawyers,” said Minda, a member of the Brain and Mind Institute. “The specific kinds of stress attorneys deal with is something research really hasn’t done. We just don’t know because this is a relatively new venture. This is definitely exploratory work which will allow us to generate a more specific and targeted hypothesis.” Read the rest of the story.
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.
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.
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.