A feature in the New York Times this weekend, The Lawyer, the Addict, is a compelling read, made so in large part by the writer’s viewpoint from outside of the profession.
Those of us in the profession have repeatedly heard the statistics on lawyer depression, addiction and suicide. In every one of those areas our profession ranks worse than most all others. Many of us have lost colleagues to depression and suicide. Lawyers have offices where others bring in their stress, their problems, difficult situations, threats they are concerned about and other such matters. Lawyers are there for every death sentence passed in a criminal trial, but we are also there for corporate “death threats” as well. We even have a name for it- the “bet the company case.”
But I think this story of Peter, dying from the impact of his drug addiction while still maintaining appearances as a partner in a high-powered law firm, breaks some of our assumptions about what addicted lawyer behavior looks like. His last call from his death bed was to call in to a scheduled conference call.
I have no great wisdom to share on this critical topic today. But it bears repeating to say, if you are in trouble, reach out for help. Many bar associations provide crisis counseling to members now. The Oklahoma Bar Association provides 24 hour free crisis counseling to its members, who can call 800-364-7886 any time day or night. There are other community resources for many situations. Ask for help if you need it.