THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS

October 31, 2012 § Leave a comment

It’s no secret that the rates of alcoholism, depression and suicide are twice as high for members of the legal profession than they are for the general population.

I don’t have to tell you that the stress, pressures and high stakes that lawyers deal with daily take their toll. And no lawyer, whether sole practitioner or big firm, whether trial practice or office practice, whether newly-minted or gray-bearded Yoda (or Yodette), is immune.

We’ve all seen lawyers who can no longer conceal the stress-cracks: neglected business; missed appointments; irrationality; substance abuse. None of it is pretty, and when a lawyer falls down in representing a client, it is not only the client who suffers, but also all of us in the profession.    

What should you do if you feel that one of your colleagues is showing signs of substance abuse, or physical, emotional or mental disabilities? Or what if you recognize the need for help with some of your own behavior?

Make a confidential call to the Mississippi Bar’s Lawyers Assistance Program at 601-948-0989, or by email at cglaze@msbar.org. Chip Glaze is the director of the program, and he will talk you through it. More importantly, his program can intervene, and, on its own, or with the backing of local judges, get the individual on the right track. The process is informal and non-disciplinary.

Some lawyers think that when they are confronted by other professionals and the bench with issues about their substance abuse, or emotional problems, or mental health concerns, that their career is threated. That would be wrong. The fact is that not dealing with those issues is what threatens the lawyer’s career.

Oh, and judges are just as susceptible to these same problems as are lawyers. The program can deal with the judiciary, too.

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