Several of my non-law friends from college (who mostly make more than I do and work 1/3rd as much and aren't on call every minute of every day) are sitting on a rooftop having some beers today. I've been in my office since 10. I will be here until late tonight, and I will be back tomorrow. You all will love this life you get here!
I did read this today. It's a long form article on alcoholism, substance abuse and depression in the profession, and especially in the big firms. It should be required reading for aspiring corporate lawyers.https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/15/busi ... ealth.html
Some research shows that before they start law school, law students are actually healthier than the general population, both physically and mentally. “There’s good data showing that,” said Andy Benjamin, a psychologist and lawyer who teaches law and psychology at the University of Washington. “They drink less than other young people, use less substances, have less depression and are less hostile.”
According to reports, lawyers also have the highest rate of depression of any occupational group in the country. A 1990 study of more than 100 professions indicated that lawyers are 3.6 times as likely to be depressed as people with other jobs. The Hazelden study found that 28 percent of lawyers suffer depression.
One of the most comprehensive studies of lawyers and substance abuse was released just seven months after Peter died. That 2016 report, from the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and the American Bar Association, analyzed the responses of 12,825 licensed, practicing attorneys across 19 states.
Over all, the results showed that about 21 percent of lawyers qualify as problem drinkers, while 28 percent struggle with mild or more serious depression and 19 percent struggle with anxiety. Only 3,419 lawyers answered questions about drug use, and that itself is telling, said Patrick Krill, the study’s lead author and also a lawyer. “It’s left to speculation what motivated 75 percent of attorneys to skip over the section on drug use as if it wasn’t there.”
Young lawyers in treatment at the Center for Network Therapy, an ambulatory detox facility in Middlesex, N.J., frequently tell Dr. Indra Cidambi, the medical director, that the reality of working as a lawyer does not match what they had pictured while in law school. She has found that law students often drink and use drugs until they start their first job. After that, Dr. Cidambi said, “it’s mostly alcohol, until they are established as senior associates or partners and they move back to opiates.”
And one gets believable details like:
Of all the heartbreaking details of his story, the one that continues to haunt me is this: The history on his cellphone shows the last call he ever made was for work. Peter, vomiting, unable to sit up, slipping in and out of consciousness, had managed, somehow, to dial into a conference call.
At Peter’s memorial service in 2015 — held in a place he loved, with sweeping views of the Pacific — a young associate from his firm stood up to speak of their friendship and of the bands they sometimes went to see together, only to break down in tears. Quite a few of the lawyers attending the service were bent over their phones, reading and tapping out emails.
Their friend and colleague was dead, and yet they couldn’t stop working long enough to listen to what was being said about him.
People don't realize how stressful it is to be on call 24/7. People don't realize how stressful it is to have another side literally reading over everything you've done in 5,000 pages of documents to ram some minor broken cross reference down your throat. People don't realize how boring, but at the same time stressful, it is to read and revise legalese in 200 page documents for 30 years. People don't realize how stressful it is to be part of a shrinking profession where there isn't enough valuable work for everyone trained to do it, where you can't reply "no" or "tomorrow" to any client for any reason ever. I've seen women partners billing the day after the birth of their first kid. I've seen partners billing 1-2 days after a terminal cancer diagnosis. You slip up once, the client will find someone else.
The resulting substance abuse, anxiety and depression is real. I've seen mostly alcohol for the substance. There are dozens of known alcoholics in my firm. I've also seen the benzos and pill painkillers, though who knows what they're doing outside of the office. I've seen substances become a problem for several colleagues already in my relatively short career. Nobody says anything, and when it becomes a problem that impacts performance, firms quietly let the person go (associates, counsel, non-equity partners) or push them into a leave of absence or/and cut their pay so much they want to leave (partners).