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.

by Patrick Gaffney

by Patrick Gaffney

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