Handling Job Stress Without Becoming a Drug Addict or an Alcoholic: Some Good Advice & Some Cautionary Tales
On Tuesday, March 26 at 4:30 in Room 107, the Law School will present a very, very special Pitt Law Academy program. In their confidential evaluations of the Pitt Law Academy last year, more 1Ls raved about the value of this particular program than any of the other PLA programs. This one is different. This program next Tuesday is on the topic: “Handling Job Stress Without Becoming a Drug Addict or an Alcoholic: Some Good Advice & Some Cautionary Tales.”
Unlike the other PLA programs, there will only be one speaker this time. Just one. His first name is Shawn. For fairly obvious reasons, I’m not revealing his last name. But I can tell you this: Shawn is one of our Law School alums, and he is also a prominent local attorney. He has worked in private and public law practice, in a large local law firm, in his own firm, and currently is in-house general counsel. He has extensive jury trial experience in both civil and criminal matters, and he has handled thousands of non-jury trials and arbitrations.
But that’s not what he will be talking about. What Shawn will be talking about is how his own drug and alcohol problems affected his professional and personal life, and what he’s done about it.
Obviously, you know the mantra now: The Pitt Law Academy program is designed to assist you in thinking about life after law school. Well, believe me, stress – and drug and alcohol addiction – are simply a fact of life in our profession. The accepted statistic for the percentage of alcoholics in this country is 10% of the adult population. But numerous studies have found that the rate of alcoholism in the legal profession is somewhere between 15% and 24%! So roughly 1 in 5 lawyers in the U.S. is an alcoholic. One in 5!!!
And practicing lawyers exhibit clinical anxiety, hostility, and depression at rates that range from 8 to 15 times the rates found in the general population. Closer to home, studies show that 20 to 40% of law students suffer from clinical depression by the time they graduate. Out of 104 occupational groups, lawyers rank the highest in depression. Lawyers rank 5th in the incidence of suicide. Of course, if you weren’t depressed before you read this paragraph, you’re probably depressed now . . . right?
“No,” you say, “not me. I’m not the depressive or addictive type.”
Hey, you may be right. You may not be. So . . . how will you handle the stress that is inherent in this business? And how will you deal with the alcoholic and/or depressed partner that you are working for? Or the inebriated judge before whom you are trying a case? (Remember to make all of your important motions in the morning before he returns to the Bench having “drunk his lunch.” A quick tip.)
Anyway, Shawn will talk about these problems . . . close up and in person. And he will talk about the stress that causes it, and how you can deal with these problems for yourself, for your loved ones, for your friends, and/or your co-workers, bosses and judges. And he (and I) will talk about where you can get help (for you or for them). Confidentially and free.
Following this presentation, there will, of course, be a reception. Open bar. By “open bar,” I mean, of course: cookies, fruit slices, and (very, very, very non-alcoholic, day-glo red) punch. Cookies and punch. Really, can you ever eat too many cookies or drink too much punch? Are you getting depressed again?
2ls and 3Ls: IMPORTANT BAR NOTE: Some State Bars require you to have taken a class on substance abuse at Law School or from a CLE provider before you can be admitted to the Bar. Ohio, for example, is one of those jurisdictions (see Section 3(e)(2) at http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/LegalResources/Rules/govbar/govbar.pdf#Rule1). This presentation satisfies that requirement. If you are attending for that purpose and are not a 1L who will be “swiping in,” please sign the attendance list before you enter Room 107. When you fill out your Bar application in one of those jurisdictions, remember that the Law School Dean’s Office has that attendance information. (1Ls get credit for this, too, of course.)