Vulnerability does not match the general impression society has of lawyers as tough and ambitious. But research suggests that those in the profession (and those that support them) are at much higher risk of depression, anxiety and substance abuse issues than people in the broader population — and may even be more susceptible than those in other high-stress professions, such as medicine. A study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine in February 2016 found the rate of problem drinking among lawyers was between two and three times higher than among other highly educated professionals, including physicians. The American Bar Association and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation funded the study. The rate of depression was about three times higher than the general population in the U.S.
We chose not to turn our heads and ignore the problems our community might face. We have established a “Safe Harbor” Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that provides confidential assistance to deal with various personal problems such as stress, relationship issues, depression, peer conflict management, and other issues that affect work-life balance.
We are also conscious of the stress and disruption caused by the loss of a close loved one. We have a formal bereavement policy to offer support and flexibility when it is needed most.