It’s no secret that work-life balance is difficult to strike in many professions. Especially as lawyers, we have consistently demanding schedules that never seem to stop—between managing our support staff, complying with court-ordered deadlines, scheduling, briefing and travel—many of us may relate to feelings of overwhelming pressure and stress. If you find yourself answering emails in the middle of the night or combing over today’s TDO list in the shower, your job is probably all-consuming. Not to say there is anything wrong with this. Many personalities attracted to the legal profession not only enjoy, but thrive from this lifestyle. Nonetheless, every so often it is valuable to step back and ensure you haven’t begun to sacrifice your own physical, emotional and mental well-being at the furtherance of your career.

In July 2017, the New York Times published the tragic story of a high-powered, successful attorney who eventually succumbed to years of hidden addiction, ultimately dying from an overdose during a work-related conference call. The article, titled “The Lawyer, the Addict,” begins by describing the shocking discovery of his body—having died from a systemic bacterial infection common to intravenous drug users. An esteemed Silicon Valley lawyer had died a drug addict, after dedicating the past 20 years of his life to the beloved practice of law. This came as a shock to many people in his life who knew nothing of a secretive life of dependency. After his death, family and friends became readily determined to track his spiral downwards into the depths of addiction. They started to examine various aspects of his life, trying desperately to connect the dots and revisit signs of addiction that had gone previously unnoticed. His ex-wife recounted erratic behavior and the unrealistic hours he worked, accompanied by stress and sleep deprivation. She began to research the phenomena of drug abuse specifically among lawyers, looking at various studies and statistics. This story in the New York Times reveals the haunting realization that drug and alcohol abuse among America’s lawyers is on the rise and deeply hidden. In fact, plenty of studies show that lawyers tend to abuse drugs and alcohol to handle the daunting expectations known to the career.

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