Saturday, August 21, 2004

The Alcoholic Lawyer

Larry the Longhorn (of Lonestar Expat) has a post (in which he sites this post from Dave!) on law students and substance abuse.

In my Legal Profession class (aka Ethics for Lawyers, an oxymoron that isn't), we're told that lawyers, as a profession, have one of the highest rates of substance abuse. A 2001 article claims:
A study in Washington and Arizona found 19 percent of lawyers suffer from alcoholism, and another 3 percent are addicted to cocaine and other drugs—a cumulative 22 percent rate of addiction.
Here's an excellent 21-page article by Brooke Meredith Budde on this topic. Here's a New York Lawyer article. Here's a article.

Here's a paragraph from a Michigan Bar article:
An often-quoted Johns Hopkins University study measured the prevalence of Major Depressive Disorder within a number of occupations and found that of 28 occupations compared statistically, lawyers were most likely to suffer from depression and 3.6 times more likely than average to do so. Studies also show that one of the leading causes of premature death in the legal profession is suicide. Lawyers also suffer unusually high rates of substance abuse and a variety of mental and physical problems.
The same article quotes the ABA Commission on Lawyers Assistance Programs as saying:
Reports estimate that while 10 percent of the general population have problems with alcohol abuse, anywhere from 15–18 percent of the lawyer population battles the same problem.
That same Michigan Bar article ends with:
In Michigan, preliminary 2000–2001 statistics from the Lawyers and Judges Assistance Program show that calls for help increased 21 percent over the previous year. Seventy percent of those seeking help were men, 30 percent women. About 43 percent of the clients sought help for alcohol addiction; 27 percent for mental/emotional problems (bi-polar, adult attention deficit disorder, depression, and relationship problems); 3.5 percent for gambling addiction; 3 percent for sexual addiction; and 2.3 percent for work-related conflict and performance issues.
Originally, when I first began this post at 7:25 PM (I've taken a few, long breaks since then, btw), I envisioned something on law students and alcoholism or lawyers and the culture of alcohol or such. After searching for and finding a few of the numerous articles on this topic, I'm not sure what else to say or write.

I know lawyers tend towards substance abuse and alcoholism in general. I know that I and a lot of my friends drink somewhat often. Not often enough that I perceive it to be a problem or affect our law school work but enough that, someday, it could become a problem. And yet, I don't see it changing. I for one am unwilling to renounce alcohol and I wouldn't ask my friends to do so either. So what else is there for me to say?