If you really want to be a good lawyer, you must be a healthy lawyer – and that includes mental health. An already struggling legal profession is at a tipping point, and steps need to be taken now to address lawyers’ well-being.
A 72-page report released August 14 – initiated by the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs, the National Organization of Bar Counsel, and the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers – outlines recommendations for taking action.1
Using data from 2016 research, here’s a snapshot of the lives of too many lawyers:
- Between 21 and 36 percent of practicing lawyers qualify as problem drinkers.
- Approximately 28 percent, 19 percent, and 23 percent are struggling with some level of depression, anxiety, and stress, respectively.
- Difficulties for lawyers include suicide, social alienation, work addiction, sleep deprivation, job dissatisfaction, complaints of work-life conflict, and incivility.
- There’s a documented “narrowing of values so that profit predominates,” accompanied by a negative public perception.
The studies reflect that the majority of lawyers and law students do not have a mental health or substance use disorder. But that does not mean that they’re thriving. Many lawyers experience a ‘profound ambivalence’ about their work, and different sectors of the profession vary in their levels of satisfaction and well-being.
Acting for the benefit of lawyers who are functioning below their ability and for those suffering due to substance use and mental-health disorders, the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being urges our profession’s leaders to act.
It is a great privilege to practice law. However, problems in the profession exist. I see the issuance of this report as a move in the right direction. Awareness of the problems lawyers encounter will lead to solutions. As in most of life, transparency assists the process of problem solving.
1 This blog was taken from: Pudlow, Jan. “Report: Lawyer’s wellness falls short.” The Florida Bar News. September 1, 2017. Retrieved from: https://www.floridabar.org/news/tfb-news/?durl=%2Fdivcom%2Fjn%2Fjnnews01.nsf%2F8c9f13012b96736985256aa900624829%2F154b2861a7fb7e8185258183004439a9