Law School Discussion

Lawyers and Suicide

Lawyers and Suicide
« on: September 28, 2010, 12:08:39 AM »
Nicholas Marsh, the prosecutor in the Ted Stevens corruption trial committed suicide.  just want to get people's feelings on the topic of lawyers and the high depression and drug/alcohol abuse rates, beyond the normal ", that's f*cked up!" type of response. 

Schools should have courses in place to teach 3L's to deal with their emotional issues.  It would be a great use of one or two 3L courses.

What do y'all think? Do you have any stories that hit closer to home?  Does it make you fearful of being an attorney?  Do you think the job really does a job on attorneys, or do these people just have issues anyways?

Re: Lawyers and Suicide
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2010, 02:14:46 PM »
Yeah I mean it is a high stress job.  I think a lot of people who get into it also want to make positive change in the world and then realize that it's really hard to do that in this field.  I also think that lawyers are just people that want to be perceived as successful and put a lot of pressure on themselves.  These personality traits can lead to depression etc. :-[


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Re: Lawyers and Suicide
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2010, 09:02:23 AM »
Actually, studies have shown that Law students on average come from a much happier place before they enter into lawschool. So the argument that it's a personality issue is, IMO, not really the factoring point. I really think it's the culture of the profession. In a place where 80hr work weeks are considered the norm, and vacations are hardly a thing, the words work-life balance become entirely foreign. An interesting  article on the general board duscussing this issue in relation to depression, lawyering and lawschools can be found here:

Re: Lawyers and Suicide
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2010, 03:38:45 PM »
That assumes that people from happier places don't commit suicide as often as people from less happy places as you put it - I doubt that's true. Lawyers think they work hard, but they are far from unique.  Auto mechanics very often work 70hrs a week and many, many other professions also require hard and long work. 

I'm not the least bit concerned and won't be offing myself any time soon :)  If being a lawyer becomes something that makes me unhappy, there are a million other things I could do with my self that would be preferable to being dead. 

It is a somewhat high-stress, tedious job I suppose, but that suits me fine.  One, possibly contributing trend in law school and perhaps practice is additional measures to  help those who have difficulties emotionally/psychologically to deal with the stress of law school and to adjust law school demands wrt scheduling, time to take an exam etc, to suit them.  I suspect that this kinder, gentler, more caring approach to law school does these individuals a disservice.  In the old days where law school was supposedly hard and those who couldn't stand the pressure dropped out or failed out.  Now law schools, with the best of intentions, help them through law school.  I doubt legal practice has gotten any easier so those folks now become lawyers and then find themselves without the support and coddling that is available in law school and maybe some resort to suicide.  There are of course strong counter arguments to this hypothesis - some of those who recieve help in law school may overcome their difficulties and become able to withstand higher stress levels, some may simple commit suicide as a student rather than an attorney if law schools were less gentle, and I'm sure there are many more.  Still, I suspect there may be some empirical merit to the hypothesis that if law school were harder/more stressful it might weed out, at a time when stakes are much lower, those who can't deal with the stress and ultimately result in fewer suicides.

As for the 3L course, I think no one would take it.  You could make it mandatory, but then you'd waste most or all of the student's time. Most law schools have extensive programs to help students learn about mental health issues.  I'm doubtful as to how helpful these are, in part for the reasons suggested in the prior paragraph.