Law School Discussion

Law Students => Current Law Students => Topic started by: NeoElle on March 23, 2007, 04:39:06 AM

Title: Depression in Law School/Depression as Lawyers in Practice
Post by: NeoElle on March 23, 2007, 04:39:06 AM
Okay so 90%+ lawyers and former law students that I've spoken with say that law school is nothing more and nothing less than-drudgery. 

Now I read a statistic saying that the Legal profession ranks at the very top of all professions for which individuals are suffering from depression (I apologize as I know this is not a new statistic). So why is the law depressing us so much and is there a way to look at things so that it doesn't? 

P.S. This is particularly worrisome for me because I have a mild form of anxiety anyway, which often triggers or coincides with depression-like symptoms. 

Anyone out there currently depressed in law school?

Title: Re: Depression in Law School/Depression as Lawyers in Practice
Post by: Dr. Balsenschaft on March 23, 2007, 05:00:22 AM
Why can't those statistics be interpreted as people drawn to the profession of law are more likely to have issues with depression? Doesn't that seem more likely than saying the study or practice of law induces depression?
Title: Re: Depression in Law School/Depression as Lawyers in Practice
Post by: NeoElle on March 23, 2007, 05:29:46 AM
Why can't those statistics be interpreted as people drawn to the profession of law are more likely to have issues with depression? Doesn't that seem more likely than saying the study or practice of law induces depression?


That's certainly a possibility.  We're not exactly a sunny bunch.
Title: Re: Depression in Law School/Depression as Lawyers in Practice
Post by: jacy85 on March 23, 2007, 06:01:53 AM
I went through some mild depression last year second semester.  This year has been ok.  Depression in law school I think is caused by 2 main things.  First, there is a lot of work to do, and depending on how much you bust your ass, and the type of work and activities you take on, being busy and stressed out for a long time can cause depression (it does for me).  Second, I think many people have NO idea what they're getting into when they go to law school.  They go because they want a lucrative career, w/o researching LS or being a lawyer, because they don't know what else to do, etc.  They get in, and they realize they hate it and they don't want to be a lawyer.  They feel stuck b/c of the debt, or they still want to make a lot of money, so they stay, and get depressed because they are so miserable at what they do.

The rate among lawyers is likely caused by similar things.  Young associates who chase after the BIGLAW jobs may find that 60-70 weeks are no fun.  Everyone from young associates to grizzled partners may still hate what they do, but like the paycheck, so they stay in a profession they hate, causing them to become depressed.

And then there's the fact that the legal profession may tend to just attract many individuals that are prone to depression, alcoholism, substance abuse, etc., which raises it even more.

If you're concerned about getting depressed in school, you can prevent it/take care of it.  First, really research law school.  Talk to current students, talk to practicing attorneys (both those who love and hate their jobs).  Find out what they do day to day, find out a little on the law, etc.  Try to see if you're really interested in law.  Second, just stay on top of things.  Be aware of how you're feeling, and try to analyze whether you're stressed, starting to feel depressed, etc.  Evaluate your feelings.  It's easy to see counselors, therapists, etc., and most schools offer excellent mental health assistance.  Also, try to do what you can to cut down on your stress.  Be extremely organized, start working on legal writing assignments early so you have time to rewrite, edit, talk to professors, etc.  Don't leave outlining till the last minute, etc.  You'll still be busy, and there's always stress, but keeping on top of your game and not having to do things at the last minute can really reduce the stress.
Title: Re: Depression in Law School/Depression as Lawyers in Practice
Post by: Sako on March 23, 2007, 07:50:12 AM
Nicely said jrut.
Title: Re: Depression in Law School/Depression as Lawyers in Practice
Post by: NeoElle on March 23, 2007, 08:10:47 AM
I went through some mild depression last year second semester.  This year has been ok.  Depression in law school I think is caused by 2 main things.  First, there is a lot of work to do, and depending on how much you bust your ass, and the type of work and activities you take on, being busy and stressed out for a long time can cause depression (it does for me).  Second, I think many people have NO idea what they're getting into when they go to law school.  They go because they want a lucrative career, w/o researching LS or being a lawyer, because they don't know what else to do, etc.  They get in, and they realize they hate it and they don't want to be a lawyer.  They feel stuck b/c of the debt, or they still want to make a lot of money, so they stay, and get depressed because they are so miserable at what they do.

The rate among lawyers is likely caused by similar things.  Young associates who chase after the BIGLAW jobs may find that 60-70 weeks are no fun.  Everyone from young associates to grizzled partners may still hate what they do, but like the paycheck, so they stay in a profession they hate, causing them to become depressed.

And then there's the fact that the legal profession may tend to just attract many individuals that are prone to depression, alcoholism, substance abuse, etc., which raises it even more.

If you're concerned about getting depressed in school, you can prevent it/take care of it.  First, really research law school.  Talk to current students, talk to practicing attorneys (both those who love and hate their jobs).  Find out what they do day to day, find out a little on the law, etc.  Try to see if you're really interested in law.  Second, just stay on top of things.  Be aware of how you're feeling, and try to analyze whether you're stressed, starting to feel depressed, etc.  Evaluate your feelings.  It's easy to see counselors, therapists, etc., and most schools offer excellent mental health assistance.  Also, try to do what you can to cut down on your stress.  Be extremely organized, start working on legal writing assignments early so you have time to rewrite, edit, talk to professors, etc.  Don't leave outlining till the last minute, etc.  You'll still be busy, and there's always stress, but keeping on top of your game and not having to do things at the last minute can really reduce the stress.

Interesting.  I think you are saying that if you 1, stay organized and 2, stay on top of the workload it will seem more manageable and therefore less depressing.  But I've heard it often told that there is no end to the actual work.  There is always something to do.
Title: Re: Depression in Law School/Depression as Lawyers in Practice
Post by: NeoElle on March 23, 2007, 08:20:37 AM
Okay so 90%+ lawyers and former law students that I've spoken with say that law school is nothing more and nothing less than-drudgery. 

Now I read a statistic saying that the Legal profession ranks at the very top of all professions for which individuals are suffering from depression (I apologize as I know this is not a new statistic). So why is the law depressing us so much and is there a way to look at things so that it doesn't? 

P.S. This is particularly worrisome for me because I have a mild form of anxiety anyway, which often triggers or coincides with depression-like symptoms. 

Anyone out there currently depressed in law school?


This is an interesting question - not discussed as much as it should be. I don't know that anecdotal evidence means anything and I don't trust statistics much. My father use to say that "...statistics are like a bikini on a beautiful woman - what the bikinin reveals in interesting - what the bikini hides is essential..." My concern is not the the numbers reveal but what they hide.

1. Is law school depressing? It is in a special way that can't really be described - it has to be experienced. One reason for this, in my view, is that law school is an endless series of trying and overwhelming events. Substantive classes are a series of lectures on complicated concepts and rules that have your head spinning mixed constantly - even if you get it you don't really GET it. Writing classes are like being punched over and over about the head and body - you feel bruised and sore - no matter how well you do from assignment to assignment (I do VERY well in writing) you still feel put down and wrung out. It's a break you down and build you back up process (1L) that proceeds to a series of brutal mental exercises (2L/3L). right now, it doesn't seem to end. It is stressful BUT is not depressing in the "I'm crying all the time" sort of way. It's just difficult - nor more than that for me. The depression comes from the fact that it doesn't seem to end.

2. What kind of person is drawn to the law? I'm confident that my classmates - brilliant nearly to a person - would be doing something else to drive themselves crazy if it weren't for the law. I can only speak for my section on this. We all work full time day and go to school evenings - doctors (one the forensic dentist for the Dallas Coroner's office who comes to class in scrubs) and teachers and engineers and businesspeople who ALL make a good living and don't really need to go to law school. So, why do it? I think it's the constant desire for improvement - taking your professional skills to the next step (even if you don't really know what the next step is...). We work our butts off during the day and we work our butts off during school and we would be working our butts off playing golf...or whatever we do. That's the kind of people we are. Some take the pressure of achievement - comnpeting with your contemporaries - better or worse. In any case, the trial by fire ahs bonded us in a genuine manner and we are no longer the green rookies who started not knowing what a rule, ALR, Restatement or any of those other fun things are. Now, we know something...we don't know everything but we are eager...even now.

This particular moment is tough for 1L's - our open memo grades are in and our trial brief is upon us )due in two weeks). We have practice exams, 1L moot court competition, preparation fro pro bono and internships this summer, and all the other fun things that go along with law study. It's truly fun - in a masochistic sort of way. Even now I love it - it drives me nuts but I DO love it.

3. What are some solutions? One way to deal is to accept the fact that the law school process is what it is for a reason - if you knew the law already (and the skills associated with the practice of law), what would be the point? I've run my own business for 15 years - I deal with large contracts and dozens of employees around the country and world. Still, the skills I'm learning in law school are new to me - I have to birth them from scratch just like every one of my mid-20's classmates. Every worthwhile thing - becoming a Marine, learning to ski, bringing a baby into the world, etc. - is somewhat painful and bound to make you wonder what the hell you were thinking. That's life - you can hide in a cubicle (like in Office Space) or you can embrace the challenge. Watch and NFL or NHL game sometime - players that just got the crap knocked out of them sit on the sidelines and can't wait to get back in the game - I look at life like that. It's a brutal experience filled with challenge and crushing blows and it's great. I can't wait to get to it every day...some are better games than others. Still, it's a long season...if we lose today we can always win tomorrow.

I can't speak to the law profession in general. I can say that people I encounted day to day in every profession seem to be pretty bummed...they didn't pick a path that makes them happy or they picked a path the didn't understand and now it generalyl sucks. I say, to them, get up and do something else. Hate being a flight attendant? Be a teacher. hate teaching? Drive a cab. Hate driving a cab? Be an accountant. The problem is not the job - the problem is the person not getting a job they love and that challenges them in a good way. I don't suspect lawyers are different than the world in general. Doctors are depressed too - and acocuntants - and schooll teachers - and the employees at the DMV (see much smiling whne you go to renew your driver's lisence?). This is not the law. It is life.

Do I dance my way through life? No. I work 60+ hours every week anyway so it's no different for me. being aware of what school will be like and what it will require of you is an important first step - that will help it be less of a schock - only less but STILL it will be a shock...take my word on this. But, it's a trip that can suck the life out of you OR bring you to life. Your choice.

My .02.

jrut, I am mesmerized by your prose.  It was written by a hand that met life as an enemy, and through challenge and introspection, you now call life your friend. 

I do love the law because it presents so many chances to evolve and become better.  So many individuals cannot deal with change and must be static in order to feel as though they are in control of their lives.  I suppose is the dilemma.  Our Type A-Must be in control-personalities (which I assume many of us as law students are) have great difficulty grasping that the law is not something that can be controlled.  It is as varied and diverse as the people and places in engages.

Again I thank you for your thoughtful comments.         
Title: Re: Depression in Law School/Depression as Lawyers in Practice
Post by: jacy85 on March 23, 2007, 08:25:50 AM
People that say they can never finish their reading, they work all the time on weekends, etc. I think are usually exaggerating.  I've had my outlines up to date before classes end (I start about half way through the semester), do all of my reading, and have enough time to do practice problems before finals every semester.  I do more work than quite a few of my classmates, but I still take breaks, watch TV, go out with friends, etc.  I'd have even more free time if I could stay off the internet. :)

While there is always something you *could* be doing, you have to ask yourself if its really necessary.  There are tons of supplements you can work through, and you can choose to spend your time reading a bunch of them.  I do my reading, I might look in an E&E or something if there's a specific concept I don't get, but other than that I don't use them during the semester.  I'll go through the E&Es while reviewing/studying for finals, do the problems in them, and work through practice problems either provided by the professor or commercial ones.  For me, that's how I study best.

Others use commercial stuff more often.  Some people type up elaborate briefs, which I don't do.  You need to figure out what study plan and techniques work well for you and ignore everything else.  If you read around here, you see a lot of people talking about how to study smart, not study more.  Some schools may be different, but I absolutely find the work load to be managable overall.  It's about striking a balance, and knowing when you need a break.
Title: Re: Depression in Law School/Depression as Lawyers in Practice
Post by: NeoElle on March 23, 2007, 10:09:34 AM
People that say they can never finish their reading, they work all the time on weekends, etc. I think are usually exaggerating.  I've had my outlines up to date before classes end (I start about half way through the semester), do all of my reading, and have enough time to do practice problems before finals every semester.  I do more work than quite a few of my classmates, but I still take breaks, watch TV, go out with friends, etc.  I'd have even more free time if I could stay off the internet. :)

While there is always something you *could* be doing, you have to ask yourself if its really necessary.  There are tons of supplements you can work through, and you can choose to spend your time reading a bunch of them.  I do my reading, I might look in an E&E or something if there's a specific concept I don't get, but other than that I don't use them during the semester.  I'll go through the E&Es while reviewing/studying for finals, do the problems in them, and work through practice problems either provided by the professor or commercial ones.  For me, that's how I study best.

Others use commercial stuff more often.  Some people type up elaborate briefs, which I don't do.  You need to figure out what study plan and techniques work well for you and ignore everything else.  If you read around here, you see a lot of people talking about how to study smart, not study more.  Some schools may be different, but I absolutely find the work load to be managable overall.  It's about striking a balance, and knowing when you need a break.

Hey Jacy85, your post made me think of something I wanted to ask you.  I don't know if this is what you meant when you said "you do all your reading" but it provoked a thought nevertheless. Thought: Do people when handed the syllabus the first day of class, actually read ahead in law school? 
Title: Re: Depression in Law School/Depression as Lawyers in Practice
Post by: jacy85 on March 23, 2007, 10:29:09 AM
Some people do all their reading for the week over the weekend.  I'm not sure how they do it, I don't have the attention span for that.

I may read two classes ahead, just so I have a "buffer" if something comes up.  I did that a lot during 1L.  I'm doing it less and less as time goes on.  It's just easier to keep things straight for class to not get too far ahead, IMO.
Title: Three Years of Hell To Become The Devil
Post by: cantina on March 23, 2007, 12:51:52 PM
Legal Depression

Probably because it's the beginning of my first year, and I'm not really 'assimilated' into the culture of law yet, I'm being struck by a few observations. The foremost of these is that, at least by all appearances, lawyers may be a generally wealthy group, and may, on average, be smarter than their peers, but they do not seem to be a happy lot.

With the single exception of The Civ Pro Blogger, I don't know of a single practicing young lawyer (not in pro bono work or with some burning issue driving them) who would consider themselves mostly happy with their work, surely not enough to wax lyrical about it. It's a matter of legend (though I could probably provide blog references if I weren't up to my eyeballs) that people working at Big New York Law Firms are depressed and overstressed corporate drones. One young female lawyer who serves as a role model for me has, I've found out, decided to take a retreat to a Buddhist monastery this summer to get away from it all. (So that's why there weren't many emails.) On a slightly more academic level, one of the better pieces in Looking Back on Law's Century discusses in great detail the low level of job satisfaction endemic in the profession.

This doesn't bother me too greatly on a personal level: I have my own reasons for going to law school and becoming a lawyer, and whatever the problems, it serves my needs. But it does make me wonder why a lot of very intelligent people have managed to develop a system that makes them, at the same time, almost unjustifiably wealthy and yet certainly not proportionately happy.

While I'm learning about Civ Pro, Torts, Contracts, and Criminal Law, I also want to spend some time wondering about why we've set up the profession this way, and what can be done to change it. So far as I can tell, for all the pro bono craziness that goes on in this place, it might not be a new Kuntsler or Cardozo who's needed. Perhaps, and it's just a thought, the greatest public good might be done by a new Hammurabi or Solon, particularly with a bent towards making the practice of law more humane not just for society as a whole, but for the profession itself.

If anyone has any suggestions for places to look for more information on this topic, it would be appreciated.

Update: One of my fellow 1Ls was discussing the 'morale' at the law school with me the other day. I was reminded of a P. J. O'Rourke saying that I can't quote directly, but it's from Give War a Chance. Roughly, he said, "Asking about morale is talking about how well things are going when they're not really going well at all. No one asks about the morale of a good drunken orgy or a summer picnic."

Thanks go out to anyone who can provide me with the proper quote.
Title: Re: Three Years of Hell To Become The Devil
Post by: NeoElle on March 23, 2007, 07:33:13 PM
Legal Depression

Probably because it's the beginning of my first year, and I'm not really 'assimilated' into the culture of law yet, I'm being struck by a few observations. The foremost of these is that, at least by all appearances, lawyers may be a generally wealthy group, and may, on average, be smarter than their peers, but they do not seem to be a happy lot.

With the single exception of The Civ Pro Blogger, I don't know of a single practicing young lawyer (not in pro bono work or with some burning issue driving them) who would consider themselves mostly happy with their work, surely not enough to wax lyrical about it. It's a matter of legend (though I could probably provide blog references if I weren't up to my eyeballs) that people working at Big New York Law Firms are depressed and overstressed corporate drones. One young female lawyer who serves as a role model for me has, I've found out, decided to take a retreat to a Buddhist monastery this summer to get away from it all. (So that's why there weren't many emails.) On a slightly more academic level, one of the better pieces in Looking Back on Law's Century discusses in great detail the low level of job satisfaction endemic in the profession.

This doesn't bother me too greatly on a personal level: I have my own reasons for going to law school and becoming a lawyer, and whatever the problems, it serves my needs. But it does make me wonder why a lot of very intelligent people have managed to develop a system that makes them, at the same time, almost unjustifiably wealthy and yet certainly not proportionately happy.

While I'm learning about Civ Pro, Torts, Contracts, and Criminal Law, I also want to spend some time wondering about why we've set up the profession this way, and what can be done to change it. So far as I can tell, for all the pro bono craziness that goes on in this place, it might not be a new Kuntsler or Cardozo who's needed. Perhaps, and it's just a thought, the greatest public good might be done by a new Hammurabi or Solon, particularly with a bent towards making the practice of law more humane not just for society as a whole, but for the profession itself.

If anyone has any suggestions for places to look for more information on this topic, it would be appreciated.

Update: One of my fellow 1Ls was discussing the 'morale' at the law school with me the other day. I was reminded of a P. J. O'Rourke saying that I can't quote directly, but it's from Give War a Chance. Roughly, he said, "Asking about morale is talking about how well things are going when they're not really going well at all. No one asks about the morale of a good drunken orgy or a summer picnic."

Thanks go out to anyone who can provide me with the proper quote.

Quote
While I'm learning about Civ Pro, Torts, Contracts, and Criminal Law, I also want to spend some time wondering about why we've set up the profession this way, and what can be done to change it.

The legal profession has got to be the only professional profession today, where the way in which lawyers are trained has not budged or evolved since the 1800s.  Can you imagine if this were actually the case with Doctors or Scientists?  The dark ages would be everpresent and we would not be here- long ago consumed by some freakishly mutant disease.  Or, just the common flu come to think of it.  Change for the legal profession in my opinion, is long overdue.

As an aside, it took me 5 minutes to read your post cantina.  Your avatar perpetually drew my attention away from your actual words.   :D     
Title: Re: Depression in Law School/Depression as Lawyers in Practice
Post by: jacy85 on March 23, 2007, 09:09:17 PM
Comparing learning the law to science is a pretty poor analogy.  The rules may change, but the law, as a body, is very much the same.  It's not like technological advances can really make a huge difference as it can in medicine and science.

AFter all, law school is about learning how to think and analyze in a certain way, it's not about learning a solid set of rules (like how the nervous system works in med school).
Title: Re: Depression in Law School/Depression as Lawyers in Practice
Post by: NeoElle on March 23, 2007, 10:46:08 PM
Comparing learning the law to science is a pretty poor analogy.  The rules may change, but the law, as a body, is very much the same.  It's not like technological advances can really make a huge difference as it can in medicine and science.

AFter all, law school is about learning how to think and analyze in a certain way, it's not about learning a solid set of rules (like how the nervous system works in med school).

I wasn't comparing anything specific but attempting to compare the way we are trained. Yes, as attorneys our brains will become the most effective tool in our arsenal.  But, do we still think the exact same about the same rules of law as we did in the 1800's?  Of course not.  So why not update?

I personally (keeping the common law in mind of course as the basis of our legal system) would focus more on present day law, and a little less on the build-up of old, overruled law which is in-itself largely responsible for the law school experience becoming a major exercise in hiding the ball.  If you really want to argue here you could say doing this would simultaneously abolish the rigor-filled frustration and endless second-guessing that law school is so prestigiously known for.  But in all honesty, so what? Isn't this the very thing that's depressing us in the first place? 

We've all taken the LSAT, and know we deserve to be at the school we're at.  I think once we've proven that we have the credentials to get in (assuming there is a degree of difficulty/scrutiny in the admissions process of your particular LS) the rest shouldn't be too much of a mystery. 
Title: Re: Depression in Law School/Depression as Lawyers in Practice
Post by: jacy85 on March 24, 2007, 05:42:56 AM
Learning those old, overruled (in some jurisdictions) rules helps us learn how to analyze change in the law, which is what our clients will pay us to do.  Learning the foundation that was in place for so long also helps because, frankly, some states are pretty "backwards" and still have a lot of these older, traditional rules on the book.

Also, things that law students like to say are completely irrelevant, like future interests, still may see these concepts in practice.  Wills written under the old rules still operate under those rules, even if we now have new, simpler rules in place.

And hiding the ball?  Ok, so your professor wants you to think very critically about everything, look for the wrong answers, the ways out, the policy arguments justifying a different result?  What's the problem?  Not everyone is like this, but more than a few people that I know who get pissed about professors "hiding the ball" want to do as little work as possible, and want their professors to just hand them things.  You may learn a few rules that way, but when do you learn legal analysis?

People obviously disagree, but I really think the reason we learn the law like we do is because it's tried and true, and it works.  I don't know. Maybe I'm just happier with my legal education than many other people are.
Title: Re: Depression in Law School/Depression as Lawyers in Practice
Post by: TexasRanger on March 25, 2007, 03:22:18 PM
I've read quite a bit about the epidemic and it seems to be most prevalent in Corporate Law for obvious reasons. The most happy attorneys seem to be public defenders and prosecutors. I personally want to become a prosecutor, but the $51K starting salary a year doesn't seem too exciting especially with the law school debt. I would be making more as a police officer (because they have a strong union) and most officers around here just have a high school education. That is simply ridiculous.

On the other hand doing something like family law can get emotionally charged because many times you have to see the kids suffer as a result of your work.

It would be neat if both happy and unhappy attorneys would post on here and give us their points of view.
Title: Re: Depression in Law School/Depression as Lawyers in Practice
Post by: TexasRanger on March 25, 2007, 03:26:27 PM
Here's a clip from USNews.com regarding "Poor Careers for 2006"

Poor careers for 2006
By Marty Nemko
Posted 1/5/06
Attorney. If starting over, 75 percent of lawyers would choose to do something else. A similar percentage would advise their children not to become lawyers. The work is often contentious, and there's pressure to be unethical. And despite the drama portrayed on TV, real lawyers spend much of their time on painstakingly detailed research. In addition, those fat-salaried law jobs go to only the top few percent of an already high-powered lot.

Many people go to law school hoping to do so-called public-interest law. (In fact, much work not officially labeled as such does serve the public interest.) What they don't teach in law school is that the competition for those jobs is intense. I know one graduate of a Top Three law school, for instance, who also edited a law journal. She applied for a low-paying job at the National Abortion Rights Action League and, despite interviewing very well, didn't get the job.
Title: Re: Depression in Law School/Depression as Lawyers in Practice
Post by: T. Durden on March 25, 2007, 03:59:38 PM
jrut, I am mesmerized by your prose.        

puke.
Title: Re: Depression in Law School/Depression as Lawyers in Practice
Post by: shimra on March 25, 2007, 05:51:24 PM

Many people go to law school hoping to do so-called public-interest law. (In fact, much work not officially labeled as such does serve the public interest.) What they don't teach in law school is that the competition for those jobs is intense. I know one graduate of a Top Three law school, for instance, who also edited a law journal. She applied for a low-paying job at the National Abortion Rights Action League and, despite interviewing very well, didn't get the job.


That's a silly anecdotal example of the alleged difficulty of finding a public interest job. I don't know how you can tell if you "interviewed well" aside from getting feedback from the employer.  A public interest organization isn't going to be as interested in factors such as school ranking as other employers, and is more inclined to hire people who seem to care the most about helping people.  Coming from a top school could be held against you if you come off as potentially snobbish or elitist. 
Title: Re: Depression in Law School/Depression as Lawyers in Practice
Post by: PSUDSL08 on March 25, 2007, 06:50:11 PM
I've read quite a bit about the epidemic and it seems to be most prevalent in Corporate Law for obvious reasons. The most happy attorneys seem to be public defenders and prosecutors. I personally want to become a prosecutor, but the $51K starting salary a year doesn't seem too exciting especially with the law school debt. I would be making more as a police officer (because they have a strong union) and most officers around here just have a high school education. That is simply ridiculous.

On the other hand doing something like family law can get emotionally charged because many times you have to see the kids suffer as a result of your work.

It would be neat if both happy and unhappy attorneys would post on here and give us their points of view.

My father is an assistant homicide prosecutor in a crime plagued city, and absolutely loves his job because he knows that he is helping to put violent criminals behind bars. My father suffers from depression, and his first couple of years after graduating, his depression became so bad that he didn't work for 3 years. Once he finally got help, his first job was with a law firm. He absolutely hated it. He then opened a private practice,   and hated it. He eventually became a prosecutor, and it changed his life for good. Once a couch ridden depressed young man, he is now a vibrant professional who, 25 years later, loves getting up every day for work. He just put a gang member behind bars and received a letter from the mother of her murdered 18 year old son raving about what a great job he did and how they now pray for him and my father every day. It brought him to tears just knowing that he was able to help this family obtain some closure. He doesn't make a lot of money, but makes more than the average professional, has great job security...and in fact he said that he doesn't plan on retiring until his early 70's!

My friends father is a prominent real estate attorney in the same town in Northern, NJ. He makes a shitload of money, and when my friend mentioned to him that she was considering going to law school, he advised her otherwise. He has specifically told her that he hates his job but makes too much money to back out of it now. He just couldn't give up his lifestyle for the sake of having a more satisfying career.

The reason I bring all of this up, is that I've learned from this that I'm not going to put that much pressure on making money or having some big prestigious firm job. I will probably seek employment with a mid sized firm upon graduation as a learning experience. However, I'm not going to let debt, "prestige", or the possibility of being wealthy keep me employed in a job I hate. I think too many lawyers are hellbent on making the big bucks, and compromise their happiness for the sake of wealth and prestige. And even some of the financially successful lawyers might be depressed because they're not doing as well as they thought they would. I think these things lead to the depression, divorce, alcoholism, etc...that is so prevalent in our profession

If I can find a job where I make good money and love what I do, great. However, if I hate the firm life, I'm either going to hang a shingle or do some type of government work. If it means I'm only making $50K starting out, and can only climb up to $75K or so as a plateau...then so be it. The way I look at it is, I'd rather make the minimum payments on my loans for 30 years and enjoy life, than be like my friend's dad...unable to escape the drudgery of his job because he's grown accustomed to living a lavish lifestyle.

Speaking of depressing jobs...While I'm only 25, most of my friends my age, or a little older are stuck in crappy, dead end business jobs. The few of my friends without graduate degrees that actually like what they're doing aren't making much more than $35K. The ones that make more than that either openly admit that they hate what they do, or try to sugar coat what they're doing. I think the way to tell whether someone really likes what they're doing when they tell you they've found a "great career" is whether or not they actually provide examples of what they like doing (specific clients they've met with, who they've helped) vs. giving you a job description that you'd likely find on a company's vacancy website. For example, my friend got a job doing IT work for a pharmaceutical company, who when I asked him about his job, gave me a BS line that "It's a real professional atmosphere where I'm integrating their business information systems and coming up with integrative technological solutions for corporate problems"...which I translate as "I wear a shirt and tie to work despite being an IT female dog for my company...and the highlight of my week is when the hot girl from sales calls me when her Microsoft Excel crashes or when she can't locate a file on her hard drive"
Title: Re: Depression in Law School/Depression as Lawyers in Practice
Post by: NeoElle on March 27, 2007, 02:30:32 PM
jrut, I am mesmerized by your prose.        

puke.

What..?!   :D

I'm sure if you wrote something similar T. Durden, I would say the same to you.  And hopefully you won't vomit on me.   :o
Title: Re: Depression in Law School/Depression as Lawyers in Practice
Post by: Legal Ease on April 01, 2007, 11:57:05 AM
As a chronic depression sufferer, I'm not too worried about the law profession, because I'm emotionally f*cked in the first place.  If you're a happy guy, I might think you ought to stay away.  My depression definitely heightened after attending a competitive engineering school.  Since graduating engineering, I've worked some of the highest suicide rate jobs out there (e.g. daytrader). I was attracted to the excitement of daytrading. At least I felt alive at work, although 50% of the days I went home suicidal.  The other 50% I went home feeling that I was a mad genius instant millionaire. 

Don't watch Requiem for a Dream on a sunny day, and don't go to law school unless you already hate life. 

LOL that just my two cents.   ::)

Oh yeah, and there's always Zoloft you know. It works half the time!
Title: Re: Depression in Law School/Depression as Lawyers in Practice
Post by: GA-fan on April 01, 2007, 01:16:27 PM
Some people do all their reading for the week over the weekend.  I'm not sure how they do it, I don't have the attention span for that.

I may read two classes ahead, just so I have a "buffer" if something comes up.  I did that a lot during 1L.  I'm doing it less and less as time goes on.  It's just easier to keep things straight for class to not get too far ahead, IMO.

Ditto on this- I read at least Monday and Tuesday on Sunday afternoon and then try to stay 1 day ahead- why? because you never know when something will come up, you'll get sick, need a mental health day (okay, a day at the beach, but sometimes you really will need a break) plus you get time to digest the material before you come to class. I think skimming the assigment right before class starts is not enough for most people to really understand the info and be prepared to be called on.

I also have had no trouble keeping up with the work load, the two weeks or so leading up to memos being the only exception. My outlines are updated, and I don't work most evenings after 7 or 8 PM. It's really manageable if you don't take yourself too seriously. Oh, and get some exercise! This always makes me feel like i've got a routine and I'm keeping it together even when I'm stressed out.
Title: Re: Depression in Law School/Depression as Lawyers in Practice
Post by: NeoElle on April 02, 2007, 06:36:01 AM
Here's a clip from USNews.com regarding "Poor Careers for 2006"

Poor careers for 2006
By Marty Nemko
Posted 1/5/06
Attorney. If starting over, 75 percent of lawyers would choose to do something else. A similar percentage would advise their children not to become lawyers. The work is often contentious, and there's pressure to be unethical. And despite the drama portrayed on TV, real lawyers spend much of their time on painstakingly detailed research. In addition, those fat-salaried law jobs go to only the top few percent of an already high-powered lot.

Many people go to law school hoping to do so-called public-interest law. (In fact, much work not officially labeled as such does serve the public interest.) What they don't teach in law school is that the competition for those jobs is intense. I know one graduate of a Top Three law school, for instance, who also edited a law journal. She applied for a low-paying job at the National Abortion Rights Action League and, despite interviewing very well, didn't get the job.


Hey Texasranger.  I find your comments gel very much with common sense notions of what it takes to be fulfilled in life.  My take is that if our respective job(s) utilize our knowledge and expertise in such a way that it helps someone out of a dark, hopeless situation- we feel like we're making a difference.  And unfortunately the higher we climb up the firm life corporate ladder, the more out of touch and unsure we become with the reality of how/if we're making a "difference." 

What's so sad is that money completely discourages those of us that could be phenomenal public servants but just can't due to huge financial commitments associated with family, loans etc. 

I was watching Chief Justice John Roberts answer a question posed to him while lecturing at Northwestern University Law School earlier this year and found his comments on this issue interesting.   

Question posed:  How do you respond to criticism that judges are getting paid too much money? 

Chief Justice Roberts Answer (paraphrased):  However much it sounds like they will be making, they will in fact be making far less than what they could- working in public service.  The very reason we are having trouble recruiting and maintaining talented/dedicated individuals for the federal bench is because they simply cannot afford to keep up with their past/present financial obligations when they make 2-3x more with their current employer.     
Title: Re: Depression in Law School/Depression as Lawyers in Practice
Post by: NeoElle on April 02, 2007, 06:50:04 AM
I've read quite a bit about the epidemic and it seems to be most prevalent in Corporate Law for obvious reasons. The most happy attorneys seem to be public defenders and prosecutors. I personally want to become a prosecutor, but the $51K starting salary a year doesn't seem too exciting especially with the law school debt. I would be making more as a police officer (because they have a strong union) and most officers around here just have a high school education. That is simply ridiculous.

On the other hand doing something like family law can get emotionally charged because many times you have to see the kids suffer as a result of your work.

It would be neat if both happy and unhappy attorneys would post on here and give us their points of view.

My father is an assistant homicide prosecutor in a crime plagued city, and absolutely loves his job because he knows that he is helping to put violent criminals behind bars. My father suffers from depression, and his first couple of years after graduating, his depression became so bad that he didn't work for 3 years. Once he finally got help, his first job was with a law firm. He absolutely hated it. He then opened a private practice,   and hated it. He eventually became a prosecutor, and it changed his life for good. Once a couch ridden depressed young man, he is now a vibrant professional who, 25 years later, loves getting up every day for work. He just put a gang member behind bars and received a letter from the mother of her murdered 18 year old son raving about what a great job he did and how they now pray for him and my father every day. It brought him to tears just knowing that he was able to help this family obtain some closure. He doesn't make a lot of money, but makes more than the average professional, has great job security...and in fact he said that he doesn't plan on retiring until his early 70's!

My friends father is a prominent real estate attorney in the same town in Northern, NJ. He makes a shitload of money, and when my friend mentioned to him that she was considering going to law school, he advised her otherwise. He has specifically told her that he hates his job but makes too much money to back out of it now. He just couldn't give up his lifestyle for the sake of having a more satisfying career.

The reason I bring all of this up, is that I've learned from this that I'm not going to put that much pressure on making money or having some big prestigious firm job. I will probably seek employment with a mid sized firm upon graduation as a learning experience. However, I'm not going to let debt, "prestige", or the possibility of being wealthy keep me employed in a job I hate. I think too many lawyers are hellbent on making the big bucks, and compromise their happiness for the sake of wealth and prestige. And even some of the financially successful lawyers might be depressed because they're not doing as well as they thought they would. I think these things lead to the depression, divorce, alcoholism, etc...that is so prevalent in our profession

If I can find a job where I make good money and love what I do, great. However, if I hate the firm life, I'm either going to hang a shingle or do some type of government work. If it means I'm only making $50K starting out, and can only climb up to $75K or so as a plateau...then so be it. The way I look at it is, I'd rather make the minimum payments on my loans for 30 years and enjoy life, than be like my friend's dad...unable to escape the drudgery of his job because he's grown accustomed to living a lavish lifestyle.

Speaking of depressing jobs...While I'm only 25, most of my friends my age, or a little older are stuck in crappy, dead end business jobs. The few of my friends without graduate degrees that actually like what they're doing aren't making much more than $35K. The ones that make more than that either openly admit that they hate what they do, or try to sugar coat what they're doing. I think the way to tell whether someone really likes what they're doing when they tell you they've found a "great career" is whether or not they actually provide examples of what they like doing (specific clients they've met with, who they've helped) vs. giving you a job description that you'd likely find on a company's vacancy website. For example, my friend got a job doing IT work for a pharmaceutical company, who when I asked him about his job, gave me a BS line that "It's a real professional atmosphere where I'm integrating their business information systems and coming up with integrative technological solutions for corporate problems"...which I translate as "I wear a shirt and tie to work despite being an IT female dog for my company...and the highlight of my week is when the hot girl from sales calls me when her Microsoft Excel crashes or when she can't locate a file on her hard drive"

psuisback05,

What an informative post!!  Thank you so much for sharing some tidbits about your personal/professional life.  The problem with the legal profession as I see it is that there are just so many hurdles and necessarily evils that we have to go through in order to get to the fulfilling... wake-up-to-greet-each morning stuff. 

We have law school, then we have the necessary firm life (to pay loans and get enough of a nest egg to do what we really want to do).  Of course this is grossly oversimplified because this chunk alone will probably take 5-10 years depending on how much/quickly you can make enough to be satisfied with. 

We all foolishly/naievely write these sunny personal statements vying for seats in an incoming law school class about how we want to go out and put criminals behind bars and make a difference... but when do we realistically- between financial commitments and prestige whoring get the chance?   
Title: Re: Depression in Law School/Depression as Lawyers in Practice
Post by: txlawstu on April 02, 2007, 08:36:46 AM
As far as depression in law school goes, it all boils down to school sucks.  If you already know what type of law you want to practice, you have to suffer through all the other classes.  And, in my case, criminal law is such a small part of the law that MOST of school is just suffering through.  I hate civil law with a passion yet 85-90% of my classes will pertain only to civil law.  Yes, I know as my profs keeps saying, there is bleed over in all the fields.  But the bleed over is so minute in criminal law it's really not of importance.

As far as depression in the practice goes, people only care about money.  I hear it day in and day out at school.  I don't know how you could be a prosecutor, you won't make any money.  If I don't get a job making at least $100,000 a year I will be too broke to pay my loans, etc, etc.  It's all total BS.  I thought my debt through seriously before I  started school.  I paid off everything so that when I finish all I have to pay are living expenses and student loans.  Will I have a lot of money to play with?  NO.  Will I be able to go get a ridiculously large house or expensive car?  No.  Do I care?  NO.  But, if you do care about being rich, you have to do the civil work, or defense work.  You have to devote you life to your job.  You can't do what you love if you find out you hate what your doing because you have to be rich.  The people I know are happy.  They were smart in managing their debt.  They do a job they love.  They aren't rich and never will be, but they are happy.  To me, that is what matters.  To most, it's all about the green.