Addicted Lawyer

The Addicted Lawyer by Brian Cuban offers a personal expose about one attorney’s struggles with addiction.  Cuban describes the “secret life of Brian” which prevailed for too many years and prevented him from seeking help for his drinking/drug problems.  At a recent Ramsey County Bar CLE book talk on Cuban’s story, David Schultz (Hamline U. Professor of Political Science and U of M Professor of Law) led a   discussion about causes for addiction among lawyers.  He also remarked that the younger generation of lawyers is much smarter than their elder colleagues because they seek help.

This book explains what addiction looks like in the legal profession with its many stressors, causing lawyers to experience higher levels of anxiety, depression and problem drinking than in the general population.  In addition to Cuban’s excellent book, recent resources include the following:

  1. Cuban’s book references a landmark study that examined the high incidence of addiction among attorneys,   The Prevalence of Substance Use and Other Mental Health Concerns Among American Attorneys  Krill, Patrick R. JD, LLM; Johnson, Ryan MA; Albert, Linda MSSW), Journal of Addiction Medicine: January/February 2016 – Volume 10 – Issue 1 – p 46–52.  This study was conducted by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and the ABA’s Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs; it confirmed “a substantial level of behavioral health problems among attorneys and revealed cause for great public concern.” (p. viii)
  2. The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change (2017) is the result of a study by the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being.  It found that between 21 and 36 percent of attorneys qualify as problem drinkers.  The study concluded that collectively, small steps can lead to transformative change, especially in a demanding profession.  It also focuses on ways to facilitate, destigmatize, and encourage help-seeking behaviors.
  3. At the highest level, Minnesota’s legal community has provided a response to the addiction problem among attorneys with the 2019 “Call to Action” summit hosted by the Minnesota Supreme Court. The summit presented plans for various legal entities—In-House Counsel, Large Law Firms, Public Lawyers, and Solo and Small Firms.
  4. For immediate assistance or for a confidential discussion about substance abuse and/or mental health concerns, Minnesota is fortunate to have Lawyers Concern for Lawyers (LCL).  They can be reached at 651-646-5590 or 1-866-525-6466.

At the conclusion of the CLE/talk about Cuban’s book, one young attorney shared with the group his struggles with addiction. He highlighted the fact that he was able to reach out to others in his firm with very positive results. The attorney continued in his job, has achieved sobriety, and is thankful for the ongoing support the firm provides.

The Addicted Lawyer is available for loan from the Ramsey County Law Library.

CalltoAction

 

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