The addiction crisis and its impact on the legal profession are the subjects of two recently published articles.
The first is The Lawyer, The Addict, published on July 16 in The New York Times (sub. req.). It is a powerful story written by the ex-wife of a Silicon Valley-based IP partner. She recounts her former husband’s painful descent from 20 years of the 60-hour-a-week Big Law grind, which helped catapult him to the top of his profession, and how that lifestyle contributed to a spiral of drug abuse and addiction. The story ends tragically with the attorney’s death. Alone. Surrounded by white powder and crushed pills–the instruments of his final act.
The second is Profile in Recovery: AA and Beyond, published on July 13 in Above The Law. This article discusses a second-year associate’s path of alcohol abuse that ramped up in law school, enhanced by designer drugs and speed. The law student is now a litigation associate in a New York firm. He is five years’ sober–alive and, in his words, “shimmying out of this miserable goddamn field.”
These articles bring home the darker side of law practice, a side that many law firms (and lawyers themselves) either refuse to acknowledge or are ill equipped to address. These articles are must reads for everyone in the profession, including law students, legal educators, health care professionals, and bar counsel.