The Wall Street Journal ran a feature today titled Even Lawyers Get the Blues: Opening Up About Depression. One quote from the article might be surprising to law students or those outside of the legal profession. "That lawyers are among the most miserable of men — and women — is well-known. Some 19% of lawyers suffer depression at any given time, compared with 6.7% of the population as a whole, says the University of Arizona’s Connie Beck, a leading researcher on the subject." Oklahoma City attorney Jim Webb and some other Oklahomans are featured in the video clip.
The online version of the ABA Journal also discussed this today in an article titled Lawyer Depression Comes Out of the Closet. This article makes note of the "fact" that "[p]essimists excel at law, but they are at risk for depression." I found that interesting and dug a little deeper. It was based on a study indicating that pessimistic law students got better grades, were more likely to make law review and get "better" job offers. It is probably equally true that those who had no social or personal life outside of law school did better in those three categories as well. Would they have better lives or enjoy more success? As noted in the comments to a prior ABA article, I’m not sure that one can make that leap of logic. Thanks to Carly for giving us the link to the original article, outlining the positive contributions of being optimistic.
At one time we were experiencing at least one lawyer suicide per month in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Bar responded with an improved crisis hotline and initial free mental health counseling for lawyers. They have fielded a lot of calls. We work in a stressful profession. People bring us their problems and expect us to fix them. We search for the truth in adversarial courtroom settings. We often deal with important and significant high-stakes situations. Your law practice tip today is to be alert for your own mood changes and to take care of yourself this holiday season.