In the report, “What Makes Lawyers Happy? Transcending the Anecdotes with Data from 6200 Lawyers,” authors Lawrence S. Krieger and Kennon M. Sheldon report on their recently conducted study to determine just that…what actually does make lawyers happy?
A great deal of attention has been focused on the disproportionate number of unhappy lawyers compared to other professions. Recognizing the need for empirical data on who is happy in the legal profession and why, Krieger and Sheldon sought to find correlations between various factors and lawyer well-being. Interestingly, the results indicate that priorities are often misplaced; many factors stressed to students and lawyers as well as stressed over by the same, such as income and prestige, are only modest predictors of happiness compared to many of the more marginalized factors that erode during law school such as personal autonomy.
The results provided in this report are intended to influence legal educators and employers and provide practical guidance to those seeking to improve the well-being of law students and lawyers.
To access the report, click here.
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The Texas Bar has recently introduced to its blog the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program “Stories of Recovery” series. The series features stories, written by attorneys, about their experiences overcoming mental health and substance abuse issues. In the series’ first story, the author describes the recovery process after nearly taking his own life due to years of depression, and how it is possible to resurface even if you think you’re “drowning.”
Click here to access the Texas Bar Blog
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In his recent op-ed in the New York Times, “For the Love of Money,” former hedge-fund trader Sam Polk offers an inside perspective on an often overlooked (and glorified) addiction – the pursuit of wealth. In it he writes about getting hooked on money during his time on Wall Street, and how he ultimately experienced what he describes as withdrawal when he decided to walk away from it all.
For the full article click here.
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What was once a North Carolina Bar Association task force has transformed into a full-fledged Commission aimed at intervening with lawyers dealing with cognitive impairment, helping them to end their careers on a high note. The Transitioning Lawyers Commission, with the training and expertise of HRC Behavioral Health and Psychiatry, has created a program that trains lawyers to act as “team leaders” who gather information from concerned individuals and then work with HRC to determine the best way to move forward. While each case varies, the program offers methods such as a “frank conversation,” memory testing, and referrals for neuropsychological testing.
For more information click here.
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In his recent New York Times article, “Shameful Profiling of the Mentally Ill,” Andrew Solomon discusses a troubling United States border patrol policy that stigmatizes the mentally ill and ultimately deters those afflicted from seeking treatment. The article describes the story of Ellen Richardson, a Canadian woman who sought to enter the United States only to be turned away by border patrol because she had been hospitalized for depression in 2012. Richardson was told that in order to gain entry, she would need medical clearance from one of the three Toronto doctors approved by Homeland Security – clearance from her own psychiatrist “would not suffice.” The border patrol agent cited the United States Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 212, which allows patrols to deny entry to anyone with a physical or mental disorder that threatens anyone’s “property, safety or welfare.”
Solomon criticizes the US border policy, calling it “regressive” and describing it as “a swoop back into a period when any sign of mental illness was the basis for social exclusion.” Targeting individuals who are on record as having decided to seek treatment only discourages and prevents others from reaching out. Solomon emphasizes this point when he states, “Stigmatizing the condition is bad; stigmatizing the treatment is even worse.” He further states, “If we scare others off therapy lest it later be held against them, we are encouraging denial, medical noncompliance and subterfuge, thereby building not a healthier society but a sicker one.” Our policies as a nation should encourage treatment and rehabilitation, so that the choice to seek help is an easy one.
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Litigator Daniel Lukasik discusses ways in which law firms can create healthier environments to lesson stressors for lawyers in this article recently published by the Magazine of the Association of Legal Administrators. The article discusses how implementing family-friends firm policies, examining salary and bonus structures, and emphasizing collegiality can go a long way in helping maintain the mental health of a firm’s attorneys. For example, Holland & Hart LLP has implemented a formal Partner Responsibility Committee, which works to create a supportive environment for its employees. The article also makes note that new lawyers would benefit greatly from such environments, as the transition from law school to firm life can often be stressful. Additionally, aging attorneys, among whom impairment issues can arise, would benefit from a more sensitive and supportive firm environment as they prepare for retirement.
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The results of the most recent Comprehensive Survey of Lawyer Assistance Programs are now available on CoLAP’s website here. The 2012 survey compiles data from nearly every lawyer assistance program in the US and includes information on annual budgets, staffing, clients and impairments served. The report demonstrates that LAPs have continued to provide consistent and significant support to the legal profession. A few particularly notable trends are worth highlighting:
- Programs referred over 1,000 lawyer, judges and law students to treatment programs in 2012;
- LAPs reported that prescription drugs were the second most commonly abused substance, second only to alcohol.
- As compared to the 2010 report, services for cognitive issues/aging have increased
CoLAP greatly appreciates the input from LAPs, input that makes the survey possible.
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