June 24, 2019 Feature

Depression and the Practice of Law: Signs of Struggle and Avenues of Relief

Joshua Rooks

Among highly competitive and demanding occupations such as the practice of law, a dedication to perfectionism, long hours, and isolation are often expected. In the pursuit of success, great effort is naturally made to overcome one’s perceived weaknesses and conceal any sign of vulnerability. Unfortunately, difficulties with emotional pain and distress are often not easy to surmount. Further, these stressors are strongly linked to mental illness. Research suggests that roughly three out of ten lawyers currently experience elevated levels of depression and that nearly half report suffering from depression at some point during their career (Patrick R. Krill, Ryan Johnson, and Linda Albert, “The Prevalence of Substance Use and Other Mental Health Concerns Among American Attorneys,” Journal of Addiction Medicine, February 2016 (10:1), at 46–52).

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