How Lawyers Can Cope with Vicarious Trauma

Jeena Cho
Vicarious trauma, along with other mental illnesses, needs to be discussed starting in law school.

Vicarious trauma, along with other mental illnesses, needs to be discussed starting in law school.

10'000 Hours/DigitalVision via GettyImages

Lawyer Assistance Programs provide confidential services and support to judges, lawyers and law students who are facing substance use disorders or mental health issues. If you or someone you know is in need of assistance, contact your state or local LAP.

One thing they don’t teach in law school is how to cope with the trauma associated with legal work. One such unintended consequence is vicarious trauma.

In my work as a bankruptcy lawyer, I meet a lot of clients who are in deep distress.

Often, clients end up in my office due to some life trauma—divorce, death, extended illness, and so on. We know from research that first responders are at risk for vicarious trauma when they’re helping those in crisis. Lawyers are similarly at risk.

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