More Law Students Struggle with Emotional/Mental Health Challenges (and subreddit big law confirms lawyers aren’t doing too hot either)
Law school, at least as I experienced at Harvard Law School, is a microcosm of the competitive arena Big Law is known to be. That brutal ethos is confirmed daily on Subreddit Big Law.
And, yes, when a 1L at Harvard Law I felt overwhelmed. Also, I didn’t like the seeming arrogant professors. I didn’t like my hyper ambitious classmates. I didn’t like what a defense lawyer had to do in order to represent the client interest.
So, it isn’t exactly a grabber story that a survey found that 69% of law students reported needing help for emotional or mental health probems. 11% revealed suicidal ideation. That survey is titled “It’s Okay to Not Be Okay,” published in the University of Louisville Law Review. Here you can read it.
However, seeking out help in a formal way – read that it’s recorded on one’s “record” – could become problematic when applying to admission to the bar in myriad states.
In addition, the stigma of beng formarlly diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder can give ammo to the sharks opposing you as well as internal enemies. In an open letter to Law.com Joanna Litt, widow of the late Sidley Austin partner Gabe MacConaill, contended that’s why her husband refrained from getting treatment. In the parking lot of Sidley (message efficiently sent) MacConaill committed suicide.
Sure, progressive forces are fighting that but right now it is what it is.
Also, sure, some leaders in Big Law are focusing on the mental health challenges. In an interview in Bloomberg Law Paul Weiss chairperson Brad Karp noted he was sending the message throughout the firm to press down the brakes on overwork. Also the firm had been enforcing taking vacations.
As an intuitive coach, I advise professionals (I had lectured at the New York State Bar Association) to create coping skills that, if possible, will be “off the record.”
Boomers remember the era before therapy became fashionable (now meds are) that we sorted out and came out whole by really talking with someone who knew how to listen and wouldn’t pounce on us. It was free. It was penalty-free. It was effective.
All that still applies. When strugglign to adjust to living in the southwest a transplant here from Kirkland & Ellis Chicago office got me through via marathon listening and a word injected now and then,
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